‘Why doesn’t God intervene and save people from natural disasters?’
As a community on a planet spinning through space, I am sure we are all grateful for the earth’s gravity which enables us to live, work and play without fear that one day we will jump too high and be carried off into outer space. We are probably also grateful for the way it benefits us in other ways, allowing us to collect fruit from trees, ski and abseil down mountains, canoe in whitewater, freewheel down hills etc. Indeed, gravity is part of the hydrological cycle that facilitates evaporated moisture returning to earth as droplets of rain rather than disappearing upwards into our atmosphere.
However, there is another aspect to gravity we sometimes fail to consider. In the same way that gravity facilitates fruit falling from trees, it is also responsible for other things that fall and kill the people below because of gravitational pull acting upon it. Just as gravity draws water downstream to the watermill, it can on another occasion result in a flash flood which washes the mill away. Indeed, just as gravity keeps people firmly drawn to the earth and allows us to do many fun things, it may also result in rock slides, avalanches, fallen trees, excessive flooding and other incidents that are detrimental to human existence. But does the occurrence of these events mean that gravity is a bad thing? Or put another way:
‘Would we forfeit gravity rather than run the risk that it might one day cause something detrimental to happen to us?’
Now I am sure most of us would not want to do away with gravity (even if that were possible) because we appreciate its benefits far outweigh any disadvantage we may encounter. But what of God in all of this? Why doesn’t the Divine intervene and save the man who is standing in the spot in which a boulder will crash and kill him? Well, yes, God could do that. God could intervene whenever a tragedy of gravity was about to occur and save people from a falling object or flash flood. However, in order to achieve this, God would have to intervene in our world at other times and in ways that we might not like.
For example, God could intervene and stop people working in a stone quarry because (with foreknowledge) the Divine might know that the excavation will loosen a boulder that will, at a later date, fall and kill someone. However, closing the quarry will cause hardship for the people who are no longer able to make a living because God’s intervention brought a stop to their work and livelihood. Or perhaps God intervenes and stops someone from getting up on the roof of their house to make a repair because He knows the person will fall and injure themselves. But without the accident occuring, the uninjured person might feel aggrieved about the intervention, especially if they are left with a leaky roof and uncertain that events would have turned out that way. Moreover, a strong case might be made that most people do not want to be mollycoddled but would rather take their chances in life. From these examples, what we see is that gravity is basically good though accidents happen. As such, God does not intervene and thwart accidents for to do so He would remove from each of us the capacity to grow, learn and be free in our decision making.’