by Keith B. Miller
In the Genesis account and elsewhere, Scripture declares God’s love and care for creation, and the glory and praise it returns to him. Yet, the creation that Scripture declares both good and an object of God’s care is a creation in which death and pain are integral, indeed vital, aspects. A number of different approaches have been used to develop a theodicy for the existence of this “natural evil” within the created order. Approaches that view death and pain in the nonhuman creation as a consequence of either a human or angelic fall are difficult to reconcile with both the testimony of Scripture and nature. More helpful are approaches that stress the “self-emptying” of God, and the cruciform character of the creation. But ultimately, we seek some explanation that has relevance at the level of the individual creature’s life. Here, something similar to the “soul-making” theodicy of John Hick seems to provide a framework for understanding the fulfillment of animal existence in a world beset by suffering and challenge.