Animal Suffering in an Unfallen World: A Theodicy of Non-Human Evolution
Sollereder, Bethany Noël
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
I would like to embargo this research for 18 months, after which it will be published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License: You may copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes. NoDerivatives — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you may not distribute the modified material.
Reason for embargo
This work will be turned into a book soon, and I do not want the publishers to feel that the work is already freely available.
The publication of The Origin of Species in 1859 raised a host of theological issues. Chief amongst them is the question of how a good, loving, and powerful God could create through an evolutionary process that involved so much suffering, pain, and violence. The traditional Christian answers for suffering in the natural world are not plausible in an evolutionary world. We cannot blame natural evil on human sin, since earth history shows that non- human suffering long preceded humans. Nor can we say that God allows suffering because it allows opportunity for moral choice, spiritual closeness with God, and the development of virtue, as none of these apply to the non-human realm. A new approach is needed to address the question of suffering and violence amongst non-human animals. In this dissertation, I address the question of evolutionary suffering with a multi-disciplinary approach of biblical studies, philosophical theology, and systematic theology to build a compound theodicy. After a survey of the various scholarly contributions in this area, I begin with biblical considerations of the God-world relationship. I set aside, based on exegetical examinations of Genesis 1-9, notions of “fallenness” in the natural world. I therefore argue that evolution was God’s intended process of creation, and that we should not attribute it to any kind of corruption. The rest of the dissertation engages in the development of a compound theodicy rooted in a philosophical and theological definition of love. How does a God who loves creatures respond to their suffering? I argue that God’s action in creation is characterised by kenotic restraint, the giving of freedom, co-suffering with creatures, and the work of redemption.
University of Exeter
PhD in Theology