What sort of God?
When the BBC's Michael Palin interviewed noted nature commentator, Sir David Attenborough, Sir David revealed that he often received letters from people asking him why he never gave credit to the Almighty for the marvelous wonders that he had been singularly involved in documenting. He remarked, without any hint of opprobrium towards the alleged Creator, that he had to deal with a simple truth - that he saw much in creation that was difficult to reconcile with a supremely wise, benevolent Creator. He mentioned sitting with a five year old boy in Africa who was going blind as a result of infection by the Guinea worm. He then remarked that people who urge him to acknowledge the Creator invariably note the beautiful aspects of nature, such as flowers and hummingbirds. He said that theists must deal with nature's sinister side, too.
Well, believers in creation, how are we to respond to these insightful comments from a man who has seen more of the created order than perhaps any other living person? How do we respond to his implied question: "What sort of God would create such baleful creatures as Guinea worms, the trachoma-causing bacterium, the AIDS virus, bilharzia and malaria parasites?"
Humanists will find my answer unacceptable, because I start with the premise that God is good, and work from there; humanists assert that nature's malign side argues against God's goodness. I know God is good because He was willing to enter flesh in the form of Jesus Christ and to taste agony and death for our atonement. Jesus Christ's self-sacrifice proves beyond any doubt that God loves His children (John 3:16). So why did He create life-sapping nasties?
I doubt anyone can answer that question directly. Who can know the mind of God? What we can say is that, if the human race lived in accord with biblical law, such problems would not exist. Nobody alive can understand all the cause and effect ties between rejection of God's ways and any given insidious affliction, but we can believe Scripture when it says the following things:
You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess (Deut. 5:33).
If you diligently heed the voice of the
Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians (Ex. 15:26).
We human beings, inasmuch as we reject God and His revealed ways - in a word, we sin - are responsible for bringing disease upon ourselves. God reveals Himself as always willing to take us under His wings, but we won't have it (Matt. 23:37). The Egyptians rejected the One True God and worshiped a panoply of non-gods.
Trachoma, a blinding eye disease found especially in sub-Saharan Africa "caused" by certain strains of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis, illustrates how unnecessary much disease is. "Sight for Sore Eyes", an article by James Zingeser in the December 2004-January 2005 issue of "Natural History" magazine, points out that this crippling affliction results from an "infernal cycle of poverty and disease". Evil people in positions of power have no concern for the welfare of their subjects; their greed and indifference lead to war and poverty. and disease. The primary vector of the bacterium is flies; as Zingeser says, "Where flies are a problem, for instance, an effective measure is to eliminate fly-breeding sites, such as human feces left uncovered on the ground." How simple. Basic hygiene that is virtually automatically followed in societies not ravaged by poverty would put a stop to trachoma. And let's not blame God for poverty! Paying heed to His laws would eradicate it (Deut. 15:4).
Furthermore, Deuteronomy 23:13 says, "and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse." One must be careful not to misinterpret Scripture; this statute was enacted to keep the camp "holy" (vs. 14). That said, adherence to it would go a long way to eliminating trachoma.
The good news is that, in time, God will convince all peoples to turn to Him and reap the blessings:
The Lord lives, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; the nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him they shall glory (Jer. 4:2).
Be ye gone, you misery-bringers.