August 20, 2010

God, wasps and caterpillars

I wouldn't want to be the green guy. That wasp has the unsportsmanlike habit if laying eggs in live caterpillars so they'll have a nice warm meal when they wake up.

Charles Darwin's Origin of Species kicked off a battle between science and religion that is still raging. Darwin's own religious views went through quite an evolution of their own from moderate Anglicanism to agnosticism.

Ironically, it wasn't so much his theory of natural selection that killed his religion as much as the difficulty of reconciling the idea of a benevolent God with suffering.

As he put it in a letter to American biologist Asa Gray,

With respect to the theological view of the question; this is always painful to me.— I am bewildered.– I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I [should] wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonid√¶ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.

The problem of theodicy, or reconciling the justice of God in a world full of suffering, is an ancient one. It was probably old when the Book of Job was written. And it hasn't been neatly resolved since Darwin's day.

SPEAKING OF SUFFERING, here are some stale excusing for not dealing with the kind caused by unemployment.

WHICH, BY THE WAY isn't looking real good right now.

YOU ALREADY KNEW THIS, but poverty is bad for your health.



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