Monday, May 3, 2010

"Natural" Evil

Early this morning we had strong thunderstorms pass through our area. This brought much needed rain that ended a dry spell. Most of us were glad to see the rain bring its nourishing water to grass, plants and trees.

Yet, this same weather system caused massive destruction and 15 deaths in Tennessee yesterday. When weather becomes violent and murderous, theologians put it into the category of "natural" evil. While moral evil results from human choices, natural evil is the result of natural processes that harm humans.

Tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and famines all are examples of evil. When we're the victims of these forces of nature, we often ask, "Why?" Sometimes this question takes the form of, "Why did God allow this to happen to me?"

Is God to blame for natural evil? If God has the power to prevent a natural disaster from happening, why doesn't God do it?

I don't believe that God sends natural disasters; nor do I believe that God can/will intervene to prevent them. God created the natural processes in such a way that there is a greater balance of good over evil. The same forces that enable life to exist at all can come together in ways that destroy life.

I am arguing that there is a freedom in nature analogous to the freedom humans have to make moral choices. God's creative power is to bring order out of chaos and that process continues. Forces of nature can freely come together in chaotic ways that result in human suffering and death. Yet, if creation didn't have this freedom, existence would be very different than it, in fact, is. The restriction of freedom would lead to the constriction of life and its possibilities for good.

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