There is a growing volume of scientific data that points to intra-species violence (that is violence between members of the same species) being a phenotypic trait of Homo Sapiens (hereafter ‘humans’). How can this be rectified with the notion that God imposed suffering on man (apologies for the use of the masculine here) for the Original Sin of Adam?
I shall posit that there is no possibility of rectification, and that this is problematic for Christian theology.
(The argument here set out is only a first attempt – apologies for any error before I begin – and one that I have a slight intent to return to and develop, so any comments will be appreciated.)
The argument, as it has been presented by a visitor here, seems to run that God (the Judeo-Christian conception – seemingly more post-Protestant than Catholic) created Adam qua man as a perfect being free from suffering and death, and granted him free will. Adam then, under peer pressure, committed the sin of disobeying God (which seems to have been the only possible sin in Eden) – this event having been made possible by free will. God then punished man by casting him from Eden and into suffering. It is claimed then, that much of the suffering caused by man is a result of his free will.
This account does not appear to stand up to basic scientific scrutiny. Violence has been seen to be – however contentiously – at least partially hereditary; that is individuals born into families with a history of violence are more likely to be violent. This has given rise to an argument, much debated, that violence is genetically caused; and that there is a gene or group of genes that increase the likelihood of violence, and that in the right environment these genes will manifest themselves as phenotypic traits.
If humans are indeed phenotypic beings, with our individual phenotypes resulting from the interaction between our genes and our environment, this raises the question of how we came to be such. I will take it as beyond a reasonable doubt that human beings have genes – since I am yet to hear a Christian argue contra this – and for the purpose of the discussion acknowledge a creationistic view that God created man as a genetic being. Herein this account there lies a problem – if God created man he did so with a gene for violence because in both Genesis accounts God leaves man as created (except for the removal of a rib or two in one of the accounts) after He completes creation. Simply, when man is forsaken to this world, God is not recorded as interceding and inserting another gene into man for violence before sending man on his merry (?) way. So, it must be asserted that God engineered man with a gene for violence.
God need not have inserted this gene from a biological standpoint. It seems pointless to make the claim, as I fear some may want to do, that God had to insert a gene for violence because of free will – the claim is simply nonsense. In fact, if God had inserted a gene for violence, violence ceases to be an issue for free will. How is this? If a trait has a genetic basis, it is likely to become active regardless of the will of the possessor – I may will to have blue eyes, but I possess a gene that results in brown and my will can do nothing about my actual biology on this issue – and can be said to be ‘determined’. Effectively, if God implanted a gene for violence then God has caused man to be violent. I take this position to be one that few, if any, Christians would consent to yet it seems the only logical one given the evidence.
The options that appear are either to concede the error of creationism and acknowledge that the flawed evolutionary theory that we currently possess (which are being developed) are better at explaining this issue and thus are paradigmatically better, our to concede that God has caused violence by implanting a gene for it and the consequences that this must have for theology.
Some may rally to the cry that violence is a product of environment. This would be a valid claim were it not for the data from higher primates that seems to show them capable of intra-species violence. This does not sit well with creationism at all – either God gave the apes a gene for violence or they must also have committed their equivalent of Original Sin and been cast from Eden as well. Of course, the tendency to employ violence has been demonstrated to have evolutionary advantages, and can actually be considered evolutionarily valuable, which would amount to an explanation of violence in apes as well as humans, without recourse to a deity …
To restate the question – how can the scientific data pointing to violence having a biological basis be rectified with creationism?