Volume 25, Issue 2, Autumn 2020
Daniel H. Spencer
Evolution, Middle Knowledge, and Theodicy
A Philosophical Reflection
In this paper, I investigate the relationship between a nonlapsarian, evolutionary account of the origin of sin and the potential ramifications this might have for theodicy. I begin by reviving an early twentieth century evolutionary model of the origin of sin before discussing the most prominent objection which it elicits, namely, that if sin is merely the misuse of natural animal passions and habits, then God is ultimately answerable for the existence of sin in the human sphere (the “Responsibility Argument”). Though I suggest that this argument likely misfires, my main concern lies elsewhere. For the proponent of the Responsibility Argument will customarily reject an evolutionary account of sin’s origin and instead endorse something like the traditional Fall account—the doctrine of Original Sin. I argue, however, that the Fall theory is also clearly subject to a parallel Responsibility Argument, so long as we take God to possess (minimally) Molina’s scientia media. While I will not pretend to have solved every issue in my discussion of Molinism, still the desired conclusion should emerge unscathed: if the Responsibility Argument is a problem for an evolutionary account of the origin of sin, then it is a problem for the Fall doctrine, too.