In the debates of Creationism and/or Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution, those favoring creation love to find anomalies around the edges of evolution to use as a wedge, to pick it apart- Hell, even though I believe in Evolution as to our physical bodies, I’ve done some of that picking myself . And, of course, those that favor Evolution can easily do the same thing. But sometimes a given anomaly cannot be used by either side; it is a two-edged sword. I’ve been contemplating the question of pain- and cannot find an answer in either philosophy.
Religion cannot answer why we feel pain from disease and internal problems that are not related to behavior- cancer and the like. Some try to say that it’s a punishment, but that won’t wash; as the song says, “everybody hurts, sometimes”, and everybody dies- if it were a punishment, it would imply that nobody is ever saved. Some say it’s a test- but if God knows all, why does he need to test our reactions to cancer? And even if there were some value in revealing our reaction, how does that explain the suffering of animals who cannot by nature sin? In the end, all religions have to fall back to “It’s a mystery.”
But science is no better at explaining such pain. Yes, there is considerable evolutionary advantage to pain from external sources- “Once bitten, twice shy”, but what conceivable evolutionary advantage is there to pain from ailments that are not behaviorally related? Sometimes even a relatively minor internal ailment can cause debilitating pain that renders one non-functional; that’s actually contra-survival. Other diseases that will eventually be terminal, but would allow months or years of useful parenting or reproduction have those years cut short by debilitating pain- again, that’s contra-survival. Even non-fatal ailments can have pain that is inexplicable by evolution, because we heal much faster when carrying out our normal activities, rather than staying bed ridden- and the pain can prevent that from happening... again, a survival disadvantage. Evolution has given us bodies with little or no nerve endings in various places- try pinching the point of your elbow, for example- why was it necessary for us to feel such agony over internal diseases we have no control over?
Doctors, Priests, Philosophers, in three part harmony: “It’s a mystery.”