Natural Selection

A Distinction Between Two Forms of Ecological Suffering

  • Ramon Isaac Duran Santa Clara University
Keywords: Darwinism, ecology, environmental ethics, theodicy, climate change ethics


Provided that theology and biology agree evolution is good for God’s creation, this article argues that humanity must acknowledge that ecological suffering ought to be viewed in two distinct forms. The first form of suffering allows human and non-human creation to experience suffering that promotes biological, spiritual, and intellectual progress. In contrast, the second form of suffering not only manifests itself through human sin, but also perverts the progression of nature that would exist in the absence of immoral action. This paper examines humans’ and non-human animals’ relationship with suffering in an effort to reconcile environmentalist attempts to mitigate environmental degradation caused by humans with the apparent necessity of suffering for natural progress. Elizabeth A. Johnson’s interpretation of the crucifixion of Jesus in Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love serves as the primary basis for the method proposed to determine the necessity and ethicality of human intervention in ecological suffering.