I'm finishing the chapter of my philosophy book on the problem of evil today, and one of the last things to do is a textbox on evolution and the problem of evil. I'd be delighted for any feedback you have to offer on this textbox.
Theistic Evolution and the Problem of Evil
One of the strengths of Augustine's free will theodicy is the way that it accounts for natural evil. Why is it that, in nature, the most vicious and cunning of animals tend to thrive, while the weak tend to get eaten? Why do the most virtuous of people get cancer, die in earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, and floods? The free will theodicy suggests all the apparent inequities of nature are a consequence of Adam's sin.
One of the challenges for a theistic evolutionist--someone who believes God has directed the process of evolution--is to account for these sorts of things. A theistic evolutionist might believe that an Adam existed, perhaps the first homo sapiens with a soul or the first human on whom God somehow imprinted his image. They might even believe that spiritual death entered the world through Adam's sin. But a theistic evolutionist will need to have millions of years of animal death, pain, and suffering long before Adam.
Some of the earliest objections by Christians to evolution did not derive so much from perceived conflicts with the Bible. For example, William Jennings Bryan, who argued against evolution in the famous 1925 Scope's Trial, opposed evolution because of what seemed to him its philosophical implications. Indeed, in the decades before Bryan, some of the richest and most powerful Americans subscribed to a kind of "social Darwinism."
Following Darwin's idea of the "survival of the fittest," they took their success as an indication that nature had "selected" them. And with this view came the corresponding sense that it was perfectly appropriate for them to ignore, run over, and in general "eat" any of the weak or less powerful who got in their way. We see this same philosophy in Adolph Hitler's approach to those he considered inferior, the ease with which he eliminated the infirm and those whom he thought corrupted the purer race.
If we assume that the evolutionary dynamics of nature are not a result of human sin or the sin of Satan, then would we have to conclude that God created the world with these dynamics? Did God create a world where the fittest survive, not from love of their neighbor, but precisely because they can beat their neighbor to the food or because a male can impregnate more females than his rival, perhaps including his rival's mate? To say the least, these considerations would invite some rethinking of what good and evil are, as well as of what it would mean to say that God is love. We will discuss some of these issues further in chapter 8, "Science and Faith."