“Death and Animal Suffering Before Humans: Rethinking the Effects of the Fall”
Abstract: A common interpretation of Christian history is “U-shaped”. Everything was created at a perfect high point, then in a dramatic fall from grace, human sin interrupted all God’s purposes and disrupted the cosmic order. All of creation plunged into meaninglessness until God’s gracious work began to redeem it, most importantly through the work of Jesus. In this view, death, suffering, and tragedy are all interruptions of God’s good work–unintended consequences of sin. The discovery of a long pre-human history of life which includes many of the evils traditionally ascribed to the Fall (suffering, predation, parasitism, untimely death, etc.) challenges that U-shaped history. This lecture reimagines the story of God’s creative work as including these more unpleasant realities, and works out how such a starting point affects our understanding of sin, of the human role in creation, and of the character of God.”
Dr. Bethany Sollereder is a research coordinator at the University of Oxford. She specialises in theology concerning evolution and the problem of suffering. Bethany received her PhD in theology from the University of Exeter and an MCS in interdisciplinary studies from Regent College, Vancouver.