Is there a purpose for natural disasters
By: The John Ankerberg Show
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|If God exists, why is there evil in the world? What is evil? Where did evil come from? Why doesn’t God intervene and stop all evil? How can physical evils such as earthquakes, tornadoes and cancer be explained? Is there a good reason for the existence of hell on which even some atheists would agree? What about those who have never heard the Gospel?
Copyright: 2003, Number of Programs: 8, Cat. No. EVL
Keywords: Natural Disasters, Natural disasters, Deuteronomy 29:29, Romans 11:33, Proverbs 3:5-6
- Ankerberg: How can physical evils like earthquakes, tornadoes and cancer be explained in God’s good world? And that brings us to the purpose. Let’s talk about the purpose for these things. Talk to us.
- Geisler: Well, the problem is, if God is all good, He has to have a good purpose for everything. But reality shows us that there are some things for which there is no good purpose. There’s no good purpose for throwing babies in the air and catching them on bayonets, as The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky’s novel, shows. There’s no good purpose for innocent people being killed or suffering. And we can all think of illustrations where there was just no good purpose for it.
- Well, now, if there is no good purpose for any one thing in the universe, then God can’t be all good because, see, if He is an all-good God, then He has a good purpose for all. But if there’s something for which there is no good purpose, then He can’t be an all-good God. So, that’s the painful dilemma.
- Ankerberg: And I mean, we’re talking just one.
- Geisler: One thing.
- Ankerberg: So, anybody that’s listening, if you’ve got one gripe at God, you’re saying this should not have happened.
- Geisler: That’s it.
- Ankerberg: We’re talking your tune right now, so what’s the…
- Geisler: Well, it’s a powerful argument. Dr. Mavrodes, who has a Ph.D. in philosophy, taught at the University of Michigan, wrote a book years ago, Belief in God. He is a brilliant philosopher and teaches at one of the top secular schools in the country and made this simple distinction. He said there’s a big difference between saying “I do not know the purpose for this event” and “There is no purpose.” As a matter of fact, there are a lot of things that I don’t know the purpose for and I can’t explain them. I can’t explain why your loved one died. I can’t explain why you lost your job, why your daughter died. I can’t explain all those things. But I know there is an explanation, and here’s why: because I know there is an all-good God who is all knowing.
- Now, if He is all knowing, He knows everything. If He’s all good, He has a good purpose for everything. So, even if I don’t know it, I know God knows it. And I also know there are good reasons for me not knowing it. Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belongeth to the Lord our God, but to us and to our children the things that are revealed.” Romans 11:33: “His ways are unsearchable and his judgments past finding out.” “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; lean not to your own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).
- So, we know that we don’t know the good purpose for everything, but we know the One who does know the good purpose for everything. And what the atheist would have to show to make his argument stick is, there is no good purpose for some events and no one knows any good purpose. Well, he’d have to be omniscient. He’d have to be God to know that. He would have to know everything to know that there’s no one in the universe who knows a good purpose for this suffering. And even though I don’t see it, sometimes, given enough time – even in this lifetime – I figured out, “Oh, that’s why my loved one died: so and so came to the Lord. That changed somebody else’s life.” And I can look back and see, even in my lifetime, many things I couldn’t explain at the time. Later I saw, “Yes, God did have a good purpose” and in fact, we know some of those good purposes.
- Ankerberg: The critics will come back on you and say, “That might be true philosophically, but we’ve got two things going on. We’ve got moral evil – which we could say comes from our free choice, but, hey, we’ve also got physical evil that I didn’t choose.” And they put it in a syllogism this way: “Moral evil can be explained by free will.” I’ll grant you that one. “But physical evil does not result from free will.” We’re talking about earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, meteors, floods, genetic deformity, cancer. I didn’t choose that one. “Hence, physical evils cannot be explained by free choice,” that is, no one chooses to have these things. So, where and why do these things come to us?
- Geisler: That’s a good question and it’s a good topic for a whole program. Maybe we could do a whole program on it. Let me give you just a little short answer for it. We do see that there’s a good purpose for many evils in our life, and we do see that they’re all connected with free will. For example, if I freely abuse my body, say, for example, smoke myself to cancer of the lungs and die of cancer of the lungs, whose fault is it? That was a free choice; I brought a physical evil on myself. If I use my freedom and become a drunk and abuse my children, my free choice was a cause of the evil that is happening on somebody else. So then a lot of the evil in the universe can be explained by free choices that bring evil directly on ourselves and directly on someone else.