The excellent Jesus Creed blog tackles a question that my wife and I have batted around: If God chose evolution through which to create the world, does that mean his “good” creation came equipped with pain and death built in?
If we have a big bang, an old earth, and evolution - then explosions, asteroid impacts, earthquakes, tsunamis, death, and competition in the animal world are all part of God’s good creation. But this is contrary to the view of creation taught in much of our church. …
From an evolutionary perspective, before humans ever existed there was suffering in creation caused by disease and natural disaster. I stand by Wright in the idea that God will eventually renew both us and creation, restoring it to what it was meant to be before the Fall. However, I have just realized that it is very difficult for me to explain non-human evil without the literal account of creation found in Genesis. This leads me to a faith crisis. Suffering in the natural world, caused by things like cancer and earthquakes, must be explained if God is good and his creation was created good.
One of the more interesting responses the author makes is that even a literal reading of Genesis would seem to indicate the presence of death; after all, why would Adam and Eve have needed a Tree of Life? Or, even more interesting, how would all the animals God created have carried out the command to “be fruitful and multiply” without death to keep them from overrunning the planet?
In the end, the author seems to be arguing that man – whether a single couple named Adam and Eve, a representative couple or a community of people – had the opportunity to be immortal, but that the rest of the world was created with natural processes of life and death. When sin entered the world, those processes were transferred to humanity.
This explanation would mean that we, like the rest of creation, are traveling toward an ultimate perfection, one we had the opportunity to achieve until we severed communication with God. Thanks to the restorative act of Jesus, we are again on that road – evolving, you could say, toward our ultimate destiny.