Natural Disasters?

This post was published on Tuesday 18 May 2010.

I am currently watching an excellent series on the BBC called The Story of Science.  The third episode, which I have just watched, is called ‘How we got here’.

It of course raises all the red herrings and difficult questions surrounding geology and biology, but one observation from the presenter hit me squarely between the eyes.

The episode ended on a geological note, Dr Mosley talked about how violent Earth is, with the volcanic eruptions and earthquakes caused by continental drift, and the tsunamis that occur when those events happen underwater.

His point was that the development of life is not in spite of Earth being so violent, but is actually helped by it. Some catastrophic events do wipe out entire species, but most of the time the violence actually encourages life to flourish by giving it new opportunities.  His best example was the Rift Valley in East Africa, which is home to hundreds of thousands of animals and birds.

I found this a fascinating argument, that natural ‘disasters’ help and encourage life to flourish far more often than harming it.  And it made me think - well that’s exactly how God operates, bringing life out of death, even totally dead and arid places like the deserts of East Africa, transformed into lush savannah by the violent separating of two continents.   (That doesnt mean God necessarily causes evil, but that he uses and transforms it.)

It should not surprise us that he created the world in such a way - that no matter how dreadful the catastrophe, life always survives, somehow, somewhere.  Even at its most harsh and devastating, creation does exactly what it says on the tin.