Does nature speak with God’s will or is God just a passive, detached creator of our beautiful but merciless and violent universe?
If we subject nature, herein defined as the sum total or manifestations of all the masses, processes, and energy in the entire physical world, to our human standards of morality, we must judge its acts as alternately good and evil. Good, when those acts benefit us. Bad, when they cause grief and tragedy.
Consider the unspeakable brutality wrought by nature on humanity when it unleashed terrifying forces of tsunami waves upon helpless and unwary residents and tourists along the coastal communities of Southeast Asia in December 2004. The giant waves killed more than 250,000 people, mostly children, women and the elderly. People died in the most horrible ways you can imagine: a child snatched by a wave from its mother’s arms and impaled on a jagged branch of a tree; young lovers smashed against rocks before being drowned by the waves; large numbers of people of all ages and stations pulled to the ocean depths, never to be seen again.
Whole villages and communities were destroyed in minutes on a magnitude surpassing the human toll of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.
The English philosopher David Hume once asked these questions: if God is truly omnipotent and benevolent, why is there so much evil in the world? If God is powerless to stop it but lets it go on, then he is malevolent.
Hume’s thoughts on God’s role in the equation of evil are repeatedly affirmed by human tragedies such as the holocaust that claimed more than six million Jews, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the countless, senseless mayhem perpetrated by man against man.
It’s as if our world was created by Satan when God wasn’t looking.
Surely, the world could have been better designed, considering that more than 13 billion years have passed since creation began (read big bang). This observation reinforces the old theory that God indeed created the universe but like the proverbial clockmaker, stepped back (after creation) to let it tick on its own.
Are we missing something? By stubbornly looking at the world and our problems from a purely human and therefore warped and limited perspective, we have become a prisoner of fear, distrust, and ignorance.
Let’s turn reason on its head and pretend we have God-like powers. Let us leave Earth at greater than the speed of light. Even at that mind-boggling speed (more than 186,000 miles per second), it would take us 45 billions of years to reach the edge of the observable universe. Barely a hundred years in our journey, we would have passed millions of planets and stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. But even at that nascent point (remember there are over 200 billion galaxies in the universe, each containing billions of stars and solar systems like ours), our planet Earth-indeed our entire solar system would be virtually unseen, even to the most powerful telescopes.
From that vantage point, galactic space and beyond dissolve into a unified whole of brilliant lights in an ocean of darkness. Earth and all its inhabitants would be invisible, even smaller than atoms, the smallest of known matter. And as we learned in high school physics, atoms are so minute that they cannot be seen, touched, or smelled.
In such a commanding view, where everything is interconnected and inseparable, like the crest and trough of a wave, good and evil are just two-sides of the same reality, where “form is only emptiness and emptiness is form.” It is a seething, fecund universe of light and dark matter where energy and mass dance non-stop to the cosmic flow of creation, annihilation, and transformation. E=mc2. Yin and yang, writ large.