"Why Does Creation Groan?" by John R. Schneider in "Christianity Today" is An Extremely Unsatisfactory Answer to Animal Suffering

I like John Schneider, since he's willing to think oustide the box. But he still defends the indefensible when it comes to animal suffering for a cover article in the evangelical magazine, Christianity Today. In Why Does Creation Groan?, Schneider offers readers a quick glance at a book he wrote on the subject.

Schneider does a lot in his book, arguing against apologists who say there was "only one way" for their God to create the universe, given his divine goals. This is noteworthy, but it's not as if it's a big difference, since Schneider goes on to defend the way his god chose to create the universe after all.

Anyway, I wrote the editor about his article. Here's an longer version of what I said:

This is an extremely unsatisfactory response to the evidential problem of horrendous suffering. No, the author tries comforting us, we don't need to be concerned about the depraved indifference of an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, omniscient creator, because all that is required of him is to defeat the evils he allows. But it's obvious to every thinking person that if I allow a pack of wolves into my house who kill and dismember my children, and if I subsequently defeat this evil by killing the wolves one by one, I have not done anything praiseworthy. Yet that is the low standard of an apologist, a label Schneider eschews by claiming he's a theologian instead. In this case though, and in many many more cases, an apologist is a theologian is an apologist is a theologian, having the same goal to exegete the Bible in ways that defend it from the triple accusations of being unreasonable, scientifically illiterate, and against morality.

Theologians are indeed apologists when it comes to the Bible. Both of them take the Bible literally until such time as the literal interpretation becomes indefensible. Then they find some other meaning, no matter how strange. In other words it says what it says until refuted by reason, morality, and/or science, then it says something other than what it says.

Schneider seems to excuse himself from the low view of what it means to say God must only defeat the evil he allows, by citing Roderick Chisholm who had defended it before him in 1968, and is cited by anyone who wants to believe rather than to think. "But hey" they say, "Chisholm is an analytic philosopher and must know what he's talking about."

So goes any reasonable standard to assess whether God is a good deity.

Schneider then offers a bad analogy, posing it as the best analogy for understanding God's creative work. He argues God is an artist, painting a beautiful picture with his creative artsmanship.

If someone is creative it is Schneider and others who use this analogy. It should be obvious to every thinking person that works of art do not bleed! The painting that comes to mind from the analogy includes bleeding and suffering bodies being hewed and chopped to fit into the "artwork" of a psychopath's dungeon.

"Nice work," a different deity might say, slapping Yahweh on the back.

I edited a book on God and Horrendous Suffering, which has a chapter on animal suffering by me. I criticize John Schneider's "Case for God" [another lower standard than that of a "Theodicy," although a mere trifle of a higher standard than a mere "Defense" which only requires a possibiliy that God is good, despite him acting like a malignant narrcisist, or a psychopath.] John knows of my book and chapter yet still chooses not to answer my criticisms. My criticism now is that he refuses to answer what he cannot answer.

To be clear, when I say Schneider offers an extremely unsatisfactory answer to the evidential problem of horrendous suffering, he's in good company. That's because all other attempts to solve this problem fail miserably.

Since Generation Z is at stake, Schneider's extremely unsatisfactory answer is nothing more "sophistry and illusion" (ala Hume). You want to show them that animal suffering can be answered? Then answer it. Deal with the substance of the real objections.

Here is a brief article of mine, John. It's being published this month in the "Trinity Journal of Natural & Philosophical Theology."


John W. Loftus


John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 12 critically acclaimed books, including The Case against Miracles, God and Horrendous Suffering, and Varieties of Jesus Mythicism. Please support DC by sharing our posts, or by subscribing, donating, or buying our books at Amazon. As an Amazon Associate John earns a small amount of money from any purchases made there. Buying anything through them helps fund the work here, and is greatly appreciated!