The terrible destruction and on-going problems in Japan are deservedly in the news. They need our prayers and support.
And it has made me think about God in all of this. Some of the things that photographers love about the natural world include mountains and oceans. Both of which are in abundance in Japan and in Southern California where I live. And those mountains only exist because of the way the earth works, including earthquakes and volcanoes. And part of the wonder of the ocean is also the nature of water which is susceptible to tsunamis.
One reason people like living in places like Japan, Hawaii and California is because of the mountains and the ocean. The forces that made these things are also the same forces that made the volcanoes, earthquakes and so forth. I think it shows we live on a dynamic earth. This certainly argues against a static earth once formed by God and then nothing more happens.
I know that there are some fearful folks who feel that these forces show God’s wrath or that God originally made a perfect planet and now it is stressed by forces of evil (because of the fall of Eden). I find that hard to believe and there is nothing in the Bible that would have me believe that. I know that we all come back to the first part of Genesis, but it truly says that God made what we have and He saw it was good. There are others who would say that this is evidence that there either is no God or a God that doesn’t care. I think that is misreading the “two books of God”, the Bible and nature.
To “make” an earth, a solar system, etc., requires a great deal of energy, regardless of where that comes from. To me, God created the earth and endowed it with certain characteristics, the “laws of nature.” That explains much because the world continues to evolve based on what God started. There is a lot of energy built into our planet. You can’t have mountains and the wonderful variation of this earth without other things going on. Sure, God could arbitrarily change that, but would we want to live in a world that we could not count on? Mountains that appeared suddenly without reason, for example. I think God is smarter than that and sees a bigger picture of things than we can possibly know.
It reminds me of the movie, Bruce Almighty. Bruce thought he could do a better job than God but then he quickly understood that God cannot simply do one thing without affecting many other things. With an intricate system that is our planet, I believe there are things that happen because of the way it is so beautifully integrated, not because God is wrathful or benign. There are causes and effects that cannot be arbitrarily changed without affecting something else. Things like tsunamis and disease happen because of the intricate web of connections, connections so deep that we cannot fully understand them, connections that cannot be arbitrarily cut without changes that could be much, much worse.
That flows into many things we need to consider about our planet today. With a system so intricate that only God truly can understand all of its connections, we really cannot do just one thing without affecting other parts of that system. John Muir and the ecologist, Garret Hardin, said basically the same thing, “You can’t do just one thing.” People want to say, “but it is my right” or “but I own it”, yet those ideas truly do not sit in isolation from the rest of the world anymore. And concerning God’s world, who really owns it and do we have a right to do anything we want? Are we living a man-centered life with attitudes about what is right or wrong based on our limited point of view or do we live a God centered life that understands He is in control and probably knows a little more than we do about our planet?
The images here are from the Sierra Nevada mountains in California, the mountains in Zion National Park in Utah and the Pacific Ocean on the California Coast by Guadalupe Dunes.