Design and Natural Evil

by Max Andrews

In an early post I discussed the issue of “bad design” in nature and how that objection is often coupled with the problem of evil.  One of my friends posed the question as to whether or not this could be a result of demonic activity and some natural evils really are evil.  (I deny natural evil).  I have reservations about attributing natural evil (I’ll simply refer to the claim as such) to demonic activity.  My reasons for doing so are twofold:  a Scriptural/theological and scientific basis.

An easy illustration would be earthquakes.  Earthquakes have recently killed thousands of people and , I would venture to say, have killed millions throughout history.  Are earthquakes then evil for causing the death of so many people?  Sure, it’s responsible, but no moral attributes can be attributed nature in this fashion.  I’d simply say it’s design.  The same water that hydrates you can drown you.  Earthquakes are a result of tectonic shifting, which is a result of activity in the iron core of the planet. The iron core is what produces the poles and the movement within that core is what protects the planet for certain solar radiation.  If there were no tectonic or core activity, we wouldn’t be alive.  It’s design.

On a Scriptural/theological basis, you won’t find God allowing any other agents to create (or create design).  From a biblical witness, God seems to be the one who creates and designs nature and I haven’t found an instance where God gives this ability to do so.  The demonic activity wouldn’t be a mere manipulation but it would have to have creative abilities to create new information (in the case of biology).  In any other case, tampering with the fine-tuning would not permit life.

I know there’s much more to be said with this and perhaps I’ll elaborate on this in the future.



One Comment to “Design and Natural Evil”

  1. Great follow-up, Max.

    In order to judge good and evil, we need to know the ultimate purpose of things.
    In a universe where there is no ultimate purpose, there would be no way to measure whether things in nature are good or evil.

    Natural (physical, material) processes operate by law and chance and so are either random or determined. Without consciousness and choice they cannot be considered evil.

    Nature is amazingly harmonious and balanced with the cycle of life. Death and decay of animals feeds the worms and soil which feeds the plants which feed new birds and animals which then die and decay, etc.

    We have the mystery of the Cross. A sign of contradiction. Through death we have life.

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