memory's sacred domain

moments mundane and magical

with 3 comments

Between human tragedies and “natural evil”

As I write this, I think of the hundreds of grieving Filipino families left in the wake of the fury of typhoon Frank. Is there such a thing as “natural” evil? The American theologian Gregory Boyd, in his book Satan and the Problem of Evil, raises this question in his discussion of the gaps in the standard “blueprint” theodicy that seeks to explain tragedies wrought by “natural” disasters such as storms and earthquakes in terms of the all-encompassing but mysterious wisdom of a good God. His is a straightforward repudiation of that kind of theodicy, one that instead asks Christians to take seriously the challenge that Satan and his minions in the spirit world give to the dominion of the Kingdom of God in the here and the now. At the same time acknowledging that as humans, we do not have a full picture or a God’s-eye-view of things, Boyd says that we must realize that the Devil, as Scripture says, is still the “prince of the air” who exercises power, even if limited, over the natural world. He can stir up nature; and it is in his best interest that he does so. After all, it is his in evil nature to destroy, to kill, to maim, to cause untold human suffering. (This present darkness, when mixed with the human propensity for carelessness and exploitation, could pack an even more potent and deadly force). And who usually gets the blame for all that misery and death and destruction that come in the wake of these “natural” disasters? The language lawyers usually use to describe these events is a giveaway (but we don’t even need lawyers to tell us what the answer is) – caso fortuito, an act of God.


Written by Romel

June 25, 2008 at 8:02 am

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Aren’t natural disasters a consequence of the choice made by Adam and Eve? “And unto Adam He [God] said, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee, saying, `Thou shalt not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life (Gen. 3:17).


    June 25, 2008 at 3:08 pm

  2. Hi Anne,My take on that verse is that it doesn’t speak directly of catastrophic activities implicating the created order; it deals with the fact that from now on, humans will have to earn their keep, as a consequence of the fall. Before humans, war broke out in heaven, and Lucifer fell down to earth (Isaiah 14). In Genesis 1:1, we read that the earth was a desolateness; (without form and void). There was a pre-human created order, in other words. Until the eschaton, and though the Kingdom is coming and indeed has come, Satan is still the prince of the air and continues to battle with God. He is head of territorial “powers and principalities” (Ephesians 6, if I remember correctly).


    June 25, 2008 at 3:48 pm

  3. And I don’t mean that all natural disasters are attributable to this present darkness; the consequence of sin is such that all creation was affected. Hence corruption not only affected humans but the entire cosmos. The effect of sin was cosmic. In Romans, we read that all creation groans for the promised renewal, indeed for the new heaven and the new earth (Revelations); I only mean to say that these demonic powers and principalities can and may influence the movement of the created order — already corrupt and fallen as it is — for their purposes.


    June 25, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: