Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The reason for natural evil

On the BBC news website right now, one of the most read stories is on the question "Why does God allow natural disasters?".

In it, a philosopher surveys various options and possible answers. Amongst which, he somehow neglects any mention of any option that involves the Christian doctrine of the Fall. As in, the answer on pages 1, 2 and 3 of the Bible - the book that shaped the foundations of our civilisation. Sigh. Why we want to consider that option anyway? Typical BBC.... line up a panel of "different views", but make sure that the Judeo-Christian one is either not heard or represented by someone who is stitched up as the fruit-cake (in this case the former). Though perhaps now ignorance of Biblical thinking is so widespread that it was not intentional this time - who knows?

Why does God allow natural disasters? Because man rebelled against him, and God's curse on mankind included a curse on the creation. All men sinned when Adam did, because he had been appointed our federal head. This entails that we cannot say that natural disasters come upon people who are more evil than others. They can come upon all mankind, because all mankind was "in Adam".

The good news is that Christ's redemptive work is also cosmic in its scope - and those who are "in Christ" by a covenant not only have to suffer the effects of Adam's ruinous choice, but also receive all the benefits of Christ's perfect righteousness in his life and death. Thus the Bible promises us that when he winds it all up, there will be a curse no more.

Natural disasters are a confirmation that all is not well in the world. People inevitably ask "why does God allow..." because natural disasters have the inevitable effect of making us think of our Maker. They are a huge red flag that there's a big problem between us and him. In that sense, they can have a positive effect - as long as we look in the right place for the answers; not in philosophy, but in the person and the work of Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

Ned Kelly said...

One might also take the "glass half-full, half-empty" approach. Adam's sin affected three relationships: God-Man, Man-Man, Man-Environment. That we suffer from natural disasters is a reflection of the third relationship. Depending on your experience, you might consider that we suffer the effects of such a broken relationship far less frequently than we might, in which case we take the glass half-full view and thank God's Providence for keeping us from harm. Given the severity of sin, I am decidely thankful that I remain generally unscathed by interaction with a hostile environment. This may sound trite to some, but witnessing the thankful prayers of so many victims in the recent Haiti tragedy, I know that there are many who share my view even though themselves suffering terribly.