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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"Creation" - the movie, Darwin, pain and suffering

I did not see the movie, Creation, which is about the life of Charles Darwin, when it came out. I may not see it. One aspect of Darwin's life that was important to him, but doesn't get mentioned much in our time, is that he had a beloved daughter, Annie, who got sick and died at age 10. Apparently the movie considers that at some length. The Wikipedia article on the film is here.

I have read a good article on the movie, written from a Christian perspective. The article is largely sympathetic to the film, and, for example, points out that some of the medicine of Darwin's time would now be considered quackery. The article also considers the conflict between the Christian faith of Darwin's wife, and the perceived implications of Darwin's theory.

I'm not clear as to whether the film considers that the death of Darwin's daughter was an example of selection against the unfit, but the article mentions that. (Darwin and his wife were related, hence their children were likely to have gotten a double dose of some bad recessive genes.)

Two other aspects of the article are important. The first is the consideration of a problem that has vexed believers since the Fall, namely the question of how pain and suffering in the world is compatible with the existence of a loving, omnipotent God. Here's the most important passage in the article:
Regardless of what philosophical problems Christians may have with the notion of God’s sovereignty and evil, our first commitment is to discover what the Bible says about the issue, not to presuppose what can and cannot be proposed philosophically. Clearly, the Bible claims that God somehow ordains natural disasters and both good and evil in such a way that man’s responsibility is not diminished, nor is God himself engaged in evil. Just how this is so is not explained to us.

The author then goes on to discuss Bible passages which are what the Bible has to say about it.

Another idea that I didn't realize that Darwin had had is mentioned in the article, namely that Darwin considered the possibility that, although evolution seems to work through blind chance, it is possible that God foresaw all of this, and made it possible, by constructing the universe in such a way as to bring it about by chance processes.

Thanks for reading. The movie sounds, from the article, like it is thought-provoking and far more worth seeing than many a film. AllMovie is less generous, but praises the portrayal of Darwin's daughter, whom is described as Darwin's intellectual superior and most penetrating critic. Read the article.

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