Recently, I have been thinking about what lies at the heart of all the tough questions people have about the world that God has made – you know, questions like:
‘Why does God allow natural disasters?’ Why do viruses exist?’ Why do people grow old and die?’ etc
Anyway, I have an answer. Actually, I’ve had it for some time though I think I have been unwilling to name it out loud for reason that it challenges a cherished verse of scripture.
I refer of course to Genesis 1 v31 where we are informed that ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’
Now, while a bald reading of scripture leads many christians to believe the world is perfect – that is harm-free and without fault or danger – it also creates a problem when avalanche or tsunami or coronavirus strikes as we are forced to resolve the question ‘In what way are these things good?’ *
Which leaves us with a dilemma – either the scripture is wrong or we are lacking in our understanding of the true meaning of what God is speaking to us?
To which my answer is this:
God creates a world that is ‘good’ in that it sustains human existence BUT it is not harm free.
It seems to me that too many believers read the word ‘good’ in Genesis 1v31 and take it to mean ‘perfect’ and posing no threat to humans. Yet, this is not true. We learn this from an early age because when we fell and banged our knee on the ground we registered it as not a ‘good’ experience. In fact, it’s painful – the ground is hard and gravity constant.
So what are the implications for our reading of Genesis 1 v31?
Well, maybe the words ‘for sustaining life’ should be added (like a footnote) to the word ‘good’ where it says ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’
Don’t get me wrong, God has created a world that is good in providing for human need and sustaining life. That said, any world dependent on techtonic movement and gravity being built into a system for sustaining life (through replenishing soil, creating uplift to facilitate water from hydrological cycle,etc) is going to result in casualties as avalanches, tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons and a whole range of other things come our way.
In summary – for the most part our world sustains human life – though it will also disrupt , injure and take life also. The world is not ‘harm-free’ but for the most part it remains manageable.
Til next time!
* Over the next few weeks I will attempt to address these questions in regard to the joint benefits of the things that are seemingly harmful but also sustain life.