Monday, January 25, 2010

Rising Above Catastrophe

Why does God allow evil to happen in our world? Robert Royal, editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, wrote an insightful column today called Job and the Haitians that explores the tragedy of natural disasters with a mind to God's plan for creation. He adeptly exposes the erroneous notion that man in some way can quell the tide, so to speak, of natural disasters.

Of course, the cataclysmic events in Haiti have touched countless lives both in Haiti and around the world. Our prayers are certainly with all those who suffer under these unthinkable circumstances. But, what was striking in Royal's column, at least to this reader, was the idea that God's creation somehow would have been filled with the same calamities even without the fall of man; that the Creator of the world designed the shifts and climate changes. Could it be? Do we actually live in a perfect world?

Well, Royal reminds his readers that Genesis certainly points in that direction. Remember God created the heavens and firmament before He created man. (Cf. Gen 1: 1-19) When man sinned creation did not change, man did; in his arrogant pride, he brought upon himself suffering. Will we never learn our lesson? Consider modern man and his deep-seated arrogance with regard to what can actually be controlled in our world. For instance, let's look at global warming, aka climate change. There has been much fervor in the media in recent years over science that seemed to support man's ability to change the Earth's climate. It even resulted in a Nobel Prize for the noted American pseudo-scientist/former Vice President, Al Gore. However, we have recently been provided information that the science undergirding all this climate change/global warming nonsense is based on hooey -- forgive the not so overly scientific descriptor -- just read junk science expert Steve Milloy's take on the issue.

Where does that leave man and his responsibility for creation? Well, if we humbly take into account that, no, we actually can't control the weather, or the fact that the tectonic plates will shift and move regardless of what man does, as Royal offers in his commentary, with what are we left? The answer to that is this: man is a created being who must react to natural disasters using right reason, understanding that there is nothing he can do to prevent such occurrences because of the mystery of God's divine plan.

It might be appropriate at this point to ask ourselves a few questions. For instance, will I cause an earthquake if I don't recycle? No. Will I add to the enormous amounts of waste in our overflowing landfills if I don't recycle? Yes. Again, will I cause the polar ice caps to melt if I don't drive a hybrid? No. Will I help increase the longevity of the deposits of fossil fuel we currently have at our disposal if I do? Possibly. Our role is that of stewardship, not control. The control belongs to God in His original design.

Ultimately, Royal, in alluding to the Book of Job, draws attention to the fact that it is important to trust in the Creator. With faith in His wisdom and mercy, man can rise above the physical ills that plague our world. There is much hope in the goodness of mankind that shines with genuine intensity in the face of natural catastrophes. We simply need to care for one another in those critical moments, and stop trying to control nature.


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