Selections from from The Evolutionary Problem with Pain, by David Woetzel.
(These selections by Marko Malyj are of the article published in Creation Matters, a publication of Creation Research Society, Volume 16, Number 3, May/June 2011, to appear at http://www.creationresearch.org/creation_matters/pdf/2011/CM16%2003%20low%20res.pdf)
Why is pain so intense? A false step will leave an organism writhing in pain, crying out for days, maybe weeks, before healing sets in. The cry of an animal in distress can attract predators. Debilitating pain is so intense that it overwhelms the desire to eat and procreate.
It would seem that natural selection would have favored less sensitive nerves or brain sensations. As the pain sensation was evolving there should have been some “push back” against going overboard. Why go to the extra effort of making it all so excruciating?
Leading evolutionist Richard Dawkins noted that "Pain, like everything else about life, we presume, is a Darwinian device, which functions to improve the sufferer’s survival… Why so painful? What’s wrong with a little red flag? I don’t have a decisive answer."1
Allen MacNeill, professor of biology and evolution at Cornell University, was blogging about the intense pain he suffered while passing kidney stones. He wrote,2
I describe all of this, not to elicit your sympathy, but to introduce ‘the problem of pain’ from the standpoint of evolutionary biology. All of the rest of our senses have a physical referent: heat receptors sense heat, cold receptors cold, taste receptors sugars and ions and acids and bases and certain amino acids in our food, rods and cones sense the presence of light photons, etc. But pain receptors do not sense the presence of ‘pain.’ No, ‘pain’ is an ‘artificial sensation.’ What pain receptors are adapted to sensing is cellular damage…. Yet, two questions immediately present themselves: why should passing a kidney stone produce pain at all, and why is the pain so intense?The brain has no pain receptors, allowing patients to undergo brain surgery while fully conscious. But the rest of our internal organs acutely sense pain. There really is no good evolutionary explanation for this.
So why do we have pain? The most satisfying answer is not found in the evolutionary paradigm.
C.S. Lewis, the great Christian writer, stated the common question in his classic book The Problem of Pain: "If God were good, wouldn't he wish to make his creatures perfectly happy?"3 Lewis then examines how people tend to misunderstand “divine goodness.” We tend to view goodness as merely making us happy all the time.
We need to see that for God, loving kindness is giving us what is ultimately best for us. If suffering brings us closer to Him, then it is good. Perhaps one of Lewis’ most famous quotes is: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."4
Ultimately, pain is a result of the Fall of Man. Sorrow, pain, and death are part of the curse found in Genesis 3:16-19. God said to Eve, “I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children…” He said to Adam, “cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life…”
Pain was not part of God’s original creation, and the day will come when it will be eradicated from the New Earth that He will create. Revelation 21:4 states, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.”
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1. Dawkins, R. 2010. The Greatest Show on Earth. New York: Free Press., p. 393.
2. Retrieved May 19, 2011, from http://evolutionlist.blogspot.com/2008/03/onproblem-of-pain.html
3. Lewis, C.S. 1940. The Problem of Pain. New York: Macmillan, p. 16.
4. Lewis, Ibid., p. 93.