There are a few more questions lying in wait at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll see if I can get to one more this week. I hope that all of you have a wonderful Christmas time with your families.
…Explain why natural disasters happen…with an all controlling God.
[a friend sent him that question] I addressed several things in my response (particularly the idea of an “all-controlling God”), and I looked over Tentpegs to see if you’d done so, but I couldn’t find anything directly about “natural evil” and the omnipotence of God. Thought you might like to give it a spin, or point us somewhere.
I think we’ve dealt with the idea of a “God who controls every molecule” before. Those who want to can listen to ten lessons on that subject at www.rochestercoc.org and they are free to listen to or download. Look for “God at War.” (we used Greg Boyd’s book as a guide)
For the larger question of natural disasters and a loving God, we need to remember that we are human beings. We are creatures, not the creator. There are limits to what we can do. For example, we cannot live forever without His help. And our bodies aren’t going to live forever, period. Why would God design a world that is so dangerous, that is full of earthquakes and tornadoes, etc.? Maybe He didn’t…
I was a teenager when I first read Henry Morris’ “The Genesis Flood.” Later, he would join with John Whitcomb and write more about it. The books are still in print and available at Amazon, by the way. After I did my science training and got the cute little letters to put after my name, I went back and read them again to see how they stood up. The answer was: remarkably well. While Boyd would argue that this is a planet at war and that is why bad things happen (and he has a lot of merit in his arguments, in my opinion), Morris believes the world was made to be a safe, warm, and wonderful place. It was sin that caused this earth to be broken forever. When the Flood came, this world broke apart — literally. Continents began to form and split from each other, tectonic plates shifted and continue that shift today, mountain ranges and deep canyons were formed by the smashing of the plates, ice ages unleashed, etc.
Natural disasters would not exist where it not for the Flood. Tornadoes and hurricanes can only form where there is a temperature differential. In the pre-Flood days, the weather was warm enough to go without clothing. There wasn’t “weather” as we understand it. Earthquakes? No — the plates hadn’t broken yet. In Genesis 10:25 the Bible refers to people who lived at a time that the earth was being divided; broken up. Continental drift is real and it continues to this day. We are living with the consequences of the sins of our forefathers.
There are some disasters this scenario doesn’t explain, however. What about epidemics? Some of them would have been avoided if we continued to follow the cleanliness rules of Leviticus (the Black Plague), there are some things out there such as hemorrhagic fevers, mosquitoes, and Swine flu that won’t be stopped by washing our hands and keeping our water supply clean. That is one reason why Boyd’s idea of this being Earth 2.0 or, at least, a planet in the middle of a war appeals to me. The Bible speaks plainly about demons causing weather problems, sickness, and death. Revelation 12 warns us that the devil has come down to cause us as much harm as possible.
When I talk to people who ask me why God just doesn’t stop all this, I ask them what they think this life is supposed to be about. Do they expect to live forever? Do they want a life with zero problems or challenges? Christianity, I tell them, is not an escape from the battle; it is volunteering to step into the breach and drive back the darkness by our lives. When the devil takes notice of us, he will do what he can to drive us off the line. Remember: the devil is not on our side. He has never been on the side of any human. God tells us to be faithful unto death, promising us that those who are will receive the crown of life.