A Matter of Identity
As an armchair Platonist, I find the philosophy behind Darwinian evolution not only intellectually unsatisfactory, but also self-contradictory. On the one hand, it asserts constant change, that, given enough time and proper conditions, anything can change into anything else; on the other hand, it asserts identity, that there is a “struggle for existence” of the individual and/or group. It is a self-contradiction to state that something must undergo changes in order to preserve its identity.
The law of the conservation of energy ensures that energy remains constant in a closed system. Matter and energy always exist, though in diverse forms. On the material level, the “struggle for existence” is superfluous, if not meaningless.
Evolutionists have attempted to explain away the altruistic acts observed among living beings in terms of survival, that the individual sacrificed himself for the survival of the group, the extended self. But where does this sense or notion of self come from? How is its boundary defined? If it can be extended to a group, why not all the species? After all, we are all nothing but matter, with the same “selective advantage”. From the materialistic perspective, the ideas of “survival”, “individual” or “race” are mere fantasies, and have no more material underpinning than the ideas of justice and morality.
Nature, Good and Evil
From a naturalist perspective, there is no such thing as natural evil. All things come into and pass out of existence according to the laws of nature. Death is no more evil than birth, and pain is no more evil than pleasure. The bacteria and viruses that cause diseases in men have the same rights of existence as men do.
From a philosophical perspective, evil can be defined as a privation of good or falling short of the good. The definition implies a standard of good, without which evil is meaningless.
According to Aristotle, a thing is evil if it falls short of its purpose, i.e., what nature intends it to be. We do not attribute blindness to stones, for they are not meant to see, having no potential for sight. Likewise, if something is not meant to live for a long time, its death is not evil. The Stoics believe that life is not a right of man, but a loan from God, and it is the duty of men to live responsibly. Death is to be preferred if it is impossible to live virtuously any longer, and to extend one’s life by unjust means is evil. An example of the latter in biology is cancer.
From a Christian perspective, God alone is good. Evil is falling short of the glory of God, or, which is the same thing, His manifested will for the created being.
When devastated by the death of his dear friend, Augustine found consolation in contemplating the meaning and coherence of the Creation: “That is the law limiting their being. So much have You given them, namely to be parts of things which do not all have their being at the same moment, but by passing away and by successiveness, they all form the whole of which they are parts. This is the way our speech is constructed by sounds which are significant. What we say would not be complete if one word did not cease to exist when it has sounded its constituent parts, so that it can be succeeded by another…There would be more delight in all the elements than in individual pieces if only one had the capacity to perceive all of them. But far superior to these things is He who made all things, and He is our God. He does not pass away; nothing succeeds Him.”