Towards a Reconciliation
of Good in the Face of Evil from Nature Herself!
The front page of
USA Weekend (February
20-22, 2009) had these words.
Are they disasters or
the experts say may surprise you.”
Then, the inside story
presents first, “the bad and the ugly” on each of five natural
disasters: wildfires, volcanoes, landslides, hurricanes, and
is, our first thoughts of natural disasters picture their
Thus, it does not seem necessary to present the loss of natural
resources, property, and lives that these catastrophes wreak.
Our minds are vivid with stories and pictures of these
common and uncommon events.
And, commonly associated with these events is
the question, “How can a good God allow such evil?”
Well, it is obvious that the news media in general these
days is hardly supportive of Biblical Christianity.
Yet, this article
unwittingly proposes a strong argument to deflate the force of
And, I will present other evidence, as well.
Let us begin with the “natural good” that occurs with
these “disasters,” as stated in the
Wildfires allow the continuing survival of forests.
They burn dead debris that accumulate under the trees
themselves (leaves, needles, and limbs) and undergrowth that
would cause greater fires.
They also provide vital nutrients in the ashes of what is
responsible for our tropical paradises.
They transport “good stuff” for civilizations that
includes deposits of lead, zinc, silver, and gold.
Ash helps create fertile soil for crops.
cause “gorgeous outcroppings, such as those along the South’s
Blue Ridge Parkway.
By choking streams, they create “pools that allow trout and
other species to build habitats.”
“import good dirt… nourish marsh vegetation… build the land
higher … (and bring in) nutrients and minerals.”
earthquakes have the same forces that create our fuel
resources: hydrocarbons, such as, coal and gas, and by providing
tectonic plates that bring them closer to the surface where they
can be tapped.
Earthquakes create “natural beauty … mountains and other
landscapes…. Over time they have split continents, formed great
ocean basins, and built mountains.”
All these “goods,” and the author, Dennis
McCafferty, has not even mentioned “God.”
I would posit that if God is going to get the blame for
such disasters, He ought to get credit for the “good,” as well!
Of course, someone may want to bring up the
tremendous loss of human life that occurs in these “natural”
disasters. Well, I
believe that our naturalist friends are caught on the horns of
their own dilemma here. “Animals
are people too.”
Many of these events may destroy some animals, but they create
opportunities for others, as well.
So, how can naturalists call these happenings “disaster”
for some species and “good” for others?
Further, since nature is a blind force, how can they even
bring God into the picture?
Why not ask the question, “Why does Nature allow these
rail against God, when they do not believe in Him, and to deny
their own belief in the “survival of the fittest” is surely as
great a divergence in consistency of worldview and philosophy,
as one could conceive.
But, let us suppose that some naturalists (or
maybe for the Christian’s own completeness of reasoning) would
be unwilling to equate the “good” that happens from these
disasters with the loss of human lives.
That challenge can be answered in this way.
(1) These events provide or enhance the availability of
life-sustaining materials and nutrients, as mentioned above.
So, while many human lives are lost, many others are
enhanced and sustained.
The contrast lies in the time period.
Disasters destroy life immediately.
Their provision for lives takes place over many years,
decades, and even centuries.
From a personal perspective, there are many, many
accounts in which both Christians and non-Christians talk
enthusiastically about how their lives were enhanced by what
they first considered a disaster.
Families blessed by orphans that are adopted.
Displaced persons meet the “love of their lives.”
Lives changed for the better because persons had come
face to face with the brevity and tenuous nature of life.
And on and on the stories go.
major point of this review and discussion is that theodicy, the
challenge of God’s goodness in the face of evil, does not
necessarily require a carefully crafted theological or
There is great evidence within and about the disasters
themselves that provide for a balance of “goods” and “evils.”
And these come from non-Christians, as well, as we have
seen with the article that began this review.
One of my favorite phrases is, “This is my
Father’s world.” If
properly studied, and attempts made to remove biases, His truth
will be found in both nature and in humanistic scientific
As an aside, if I am ever asked, “How can a
good God allow such evil?”
I plan to answer that question with a question, “Which
God are you asking about?”
And, then, I would push for an answer.
If they want to challenge the God of Biblical
Christianity, they are going to have to define Him for me.
I cannot imagine any reporter being able to give an
Most Christians, even, cannot adequately define God.
But the Westminster Confession of Faith does in
Chapter 2, Section 1.
Just for the record.
If someone did define God adequately, I would answer the
question in this way.
“The God of the Bible is perfectly righteous.
He can do no wrong or evil.
Therefore, your idea of “evil” is wrongly conceived.
It only has the appearance of evil from man’s lowly (in
comparison to God’s) and limited perspective.
Many more of our supposed dilemmas could be
answered by a Biblical understanding of God!
For more on the unnecessary problem of “evil” in God’s universe,
see Gordon Clark’s God
and Evil: The Problem Solved at
For another perspective that honors the Sovereignty of God and
the "deservedness" of victims, see
The God of Disasters.