Thus, the problem in a nutshell: How does the Christian claim that a good God creates a good creation account for the ubiquity of these negative aspects of nature when they are necessary and/or inevitable given the very structure of that creation? What do we make of the notion that God created a world so well-equipped for extinction that 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are now extinct? Or that God created a world with parameters in which biological strategies such as predation and parasitism are so rewarding that they are virtually inevitable? If there is a critical blow that cosmological and biological evolution delivers to Christian faith, it is not about the age of the Earth or the ancestry of humans. It is rather about the character of a God who would create a world that facilitates such violence on such unthinkable scales. To this problem there is no clear solution.
So, where does Christian faith go from here? Should we all be atheists? Not necessarily. The problem I’ve expressed here has nothing to do with the existence of God. It has to do with the character of God and, as a corollary, whether or not God is actually worthy of worship. Should we then stop worshiping God? Again, not necessarily. Some theologians argue that God’s character withstands the challenge of nature’s darkness. How so? Perhaps what some of us consider “evil” or “negative” is simply human sentimentalism or misconception. Perhaps God is limited in such a way that God cannot prevent or eradicate evil. Perhaps a world such as this one was the only way God could bring about the values so many of us cherish—morality, freedom, intelligence, biodiversity, love. Perhaps some other creatures, such as angels, rebelled and distorted the cosmos. These are all views—and there are more—theologians are currently exploring and debating. In my view, none is without issue. All require problematic assumptions, appeals to mystery, or logical leaps at critical points.