Are natural disasters the result of the Fall?

I am not quite certain where the idea came from – possibly my early education at the hands of the nuns in catechism – or later as a ‘born again’ at college? But somewhere along the line I came to the conclusion that earthquakes, typhoons, floods,  hurricanes, lightning strikes and tsunamis occurred as a result of human rebellion away from God.

Now, whereas I think quite differently today, I do have some sympathy with those who believe natural disasters happened as a result of the Fall. After all, it’s inferred in the Bible. At the start of Genesis we are informed that God assesses His creative handiwork and considers it ‘good’. And yet, later on we are informed that the same earth is in such a state of turmoil and disrepair that God likens it to a woman who is in the pains of labour who ‘groans’ and ‘longs for’ a time of restoration – all of which suggests something has happened to our perfect world since God created it – but has it?

For many believers, the obvious response is to assert these phenomena came about as a result of human rebellion away from God – but is this a fair assumption to make? One reason we might question such thinking is that it does not accord with what we now know today about the physical properties of our world today and the processes within it – such as tectonic movement which (incidentally) is a good thing.

After all, without higher tracts of land there would be no hydrological cylcle allowing moist sea air (containing water) to rise, cool and deposit fresh water as rain. Likewise, without flooding and deposition, large areas of land previously eroded by farming and cattle grazing would never be replenished with new soil enabling the continuance of human survival in those areas. Could it be that things like earth’s replenishable soil – unlike the impervious rock or gas base of other planets that do not facilitate erosion – is what God is talking about when he declares His creation good for sustaining life? (And not a harm-free zone)

Extracts and article idea taken from ‘The God of the Cruel World’ (Bob Eckhard)