Saturday, March 14, 2009

Natural Evil

With all the inclimate weather Oklahoma has been having lately (tornadoes in Feb), I've been thinking about natural evil in the world. This will probably touch a bit on a couple things that I already covered in "Suffering Sucks...or Does it?". If you haven't already, check that post out before you continue with this one.

Many people have asked why an omnibenevolent (all-loving) God would allow such disasters to happen. These people tend to associate anything that causes pain with being evil. In my post about suffering I addressed why this argument does not logically follow. But on this post I would like to provide a short defense of why God would allow such things to happen at all (whether they affect people or not), and why this is actually the opposite case- these are, in fact, the works expected of an omnibenevolent God.

This argument is pretty much weighted on the impression of extreme design of our planet specifically for the existence of intelligent life.

One of the necessary factors required for a planet to support advanced life forms is "plate tectonics". In short, plate tectonics is the movement of a planet's rocky material. The way most planets form is that they start out as complete "water-worlds". Basically, they are nothing but a ball of water with a rocky center. Movement of the planet's crust allows the rocky material to come to the surface and produce landmasses.

Unfortunately, another effect of plate tectonics is that is that it interacts with the atmosphere (another just-right component) and produces natural disasters such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Plate tectonics, by itself, can also produce earthquakes and tsunamis.

All of these disasters are side effects of have a planet that can sustain our living here. We are stuck with them, if we want to live.

Some prominent Christians have said that recent natural disasters are "divine judgment" on humanity. They base this claim on the fact that God did use some natural disasters in the Bible as judgment. However, it does not follow that God used these natural disasters for this purpose.

If you take a look at the damage from natural disasters in the past, they did much more damage (in monetary terms) in the early 1900's than they do now. This is because humanity has been able to develop technologies that can keep them safe(r). Some have said that today, these same "natural evils" may be considered "moral evils" because of the fact that the more advanced nations have not implemented the same technologies in the poorer nations of the earth, and thus the loss of life may be indirectly the responsibility of the more advanced nations. So, an argument could be made for this. I don't know that I quite agree with that, but I digress.

My point in all this is that God created the universe with fixed laws of physics that have certain requirements in order to support life. God created our planet specifically so that the human race could not only live, but thrive. This is what is to be expected of an omnibenevolent God. Here's a quick video from Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason:



But this brings up another question: "Why did God not choose laws of physics that would allow for us to thrive without all the natural evils?" Here is an episode of the podcast "Why The Universe Is The Way It Is" in which Dr. Hugh Ross answers that question.



If you would like to do more research into this check out these great resources:

Web Pages
Natural Disasters- Reasons to Believe
Design Found In Earthquake Activity- Reasons to Believe
What If There Were No Hurricanes- Reasons to Believe
Problem of Evil- Reasonable Faith
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

Books
Creator and the Cosmos by Dr. Hugh Ross
Why The Universe Is The Way It Is by Dr. Hugh Ross
A World Of Difference by Kenneth Samples
Without A Doubt- by Kenneth Samples

Podcasts
Why The Universe Is The Way It Is
I Didn't Know That
Straight Thinking
Reasonable Faith
Just Thinking

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