Why Would a Good God Allow Natural Evil?
by J warner Wallace
As a police officer and homicide detective, I’ve seen my fair share of injustice and hardship. Every time I’m asked to defend the existence of God in light of the evil we observe in our world, I take a deep breath and try to separate the emotional nature of this issue from the rational explanations I might offer. I recognize the impotence of my rational response when trying to address to the emotional pain people experience when they suffer evil. At the same time, I think it’s important for us explore reasonable explanations. Natural evil is perhaps the most difficult category of evil we, as Christians, can address. It’s one thing to explain the presence of moral evil in our world (the evil actions of humans); it’s another to explain the existence of natural evil (earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters). If an all-powerful and all-loving God exists, why does He permit natural evil? If God exists, it is certainly within His power to prevent such things. Why wouldn’t He?
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The problem of natural evil is irreconcilable unless there are necessary or good reasons for God to permit such evil. If God exists, it is reasonable to believe that He would design a world in which free agency is possible (this is a necessity for true love to be achievable). In order to understand why God might allow natural evil, we have to do our best to examine the nature of the world around us, the nature of humans and the desires of God:
Some “Natural Evil” May Be the Result of Necessity
God may tolerate some natural evil because it is the necessary consequence of a free natural process that makes it possible for freewill creatures to thrive. Scientist-theologian John Polkinghorne suggests that God has created a universe with particular natural laws that make life on earth possible so that humans with free will can exist in the first place. As an example, the same weather systems that create tornadoes that kill humans also create thunderstorms that provide our environment with the water needed for human existence. The same plate tectonics that kill humans (in earthquakes) are necessary for regulation of soils and surface temperatures needed for human existence…
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