1st Edition

God, Evolution, and Animal Suffering Theodicy without a Fall

By Bethany N. Sollereder Copyright 2019
    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    216 Pages
    by Routledge

    After the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859, theologians were faced with the dilemma of God creating through evolution. Suddenly, pain, suffering, untimely death and extinction appeared to be the very tools of creation, and not a result of the sin of humanity. Despite this paradigm shift, the question of non-human suffering has been largely overlooked within theodicy debates, overwhelmed by the extreme human suffering of the twentieth century. This book redresses this imbalance by offering a rigorous academic treatment of the questions surrounding God and the suffering of non-human animals.

    Combining theological, philosophical, and biblical perspectives, this book explores the relationship between God and Creation within Christian theology. First it dismantles the popular theological view that roots violence and suffering in the animal kingdom in the fall of humanity. Then, through an exploration of the nature of love, it affirms that there are multiple reasons to suggest that God and creation can both be "good", even with the presence of violence and suffering.

    This is an innovative exploration of an under-examined subject that encompasses issues of theology, science, morality and human-animal interactions. As such, it will be of keen interest to scholars and academics of religion and science, the philosophy of religion, theodicy, and biblical studies.

    1 Leaving the Courtroom  2 The Bible and The Fall  3 Joining the Conversation  4 Creation, Freedom, and Love  5 Special Divine Action  6 Redemption  7 Conclusion


    Bethany N. Sollereder is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, UK in the Faculty of Theology and Religion. She is a fellow of the International Society for Science and Religion and of the Royal Society of Arts. She has written for a number of journals and magazines, including Zygon, Theology & Science, and The Christian Century and she is a regular contributor to the BioLogos website.

    "This is a ground-breaking study which faces fearlessly the implications of believing that God creates through the process of evolution, with the consequent suffering caused to animals. Rejecting any explanations which rely on a single-point, historic fall of the universe the author develops a highly original alternative account, taking seriously the meaning of the love of a creator God, that all theologians will need to take a view on. At times provocative, always clear, expert, readable and interesting, this is essential reading for all who want to continue writing theodicies in the modern era of biological science."

    – Paul S. Fiddes, Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Oxford, UK

    "A thoughtful, original and important exploration of an important theological topic. Dr Sollereder opens up some of the most challenging questions arising from Darwin's theory of evolution, and offers fresh insights and perspectives to her readers."

    – Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, University of Oxford, UK

    "Rigorously researched, and written with both clarity and passion, Bethany Sollereder’s new book makes a highly creative contribution to a significant and much neglected debate. It will be a vital resource for researchers and students alike."

    – Christopher Southgate, Professor of Christian Theodicy, University of Exeter, UK

    "In this engaging book Sollereder is "joining a conversation" on evolutionary theodicy that has now spanned a decade or more. She does so with aplomb, with new insights, coherence, courage, and with lively and intelligent interactions with her peers. Spanning a wide theological horizon, Sollereder delves deep into the issues of divine action, the goodness and freedom of creation, the problems of evolutionary suffering, God’s temporality, kenosis, passability and above all God’s love for all of creation. Hers is an acco