Evil in Nature

When I posted last week (see God, Man, or the Devil) I mentioned the curse that mankind and nature are under due to Adam’s fall. The thought occurred to me that maybe not everyone is familiar with the fact that nature is cursed because of the fall. Charles Clough in his Biblical Framework series spends a lot of time discussing the fall and how it affects both mankind and our world. I would like to quote some of Charles Clough’s work on this topic so if anyone is curious they will be able to understand what I mean by the curse.

Here is Charles Clough:

EVIL IN NATURE

Evil permeates both sides of the man-nature distinction. When Adam fell, God cursed the ground because of his sin, a fact crucial to Paul’s exposition of the resurrection hope in Romans 8:18-23. Evil damaged nature as it did man.

Sin-Damage to Nature’s Design

While it is still true after the fall that nature reveals its Creator, it is also true that much chaos has come into the message. Nature has become abnormal. There is now natural evil: storms, earthquakes, plagues, and famine. Nature even pollutes itself! Gases and vapors from natural decay pollute the atmosphere. A classic example is the Los Angeles basin. Long before the automobile and white man’s industrialization, native American Indians referred to the area as “the place of the burning eyes”. It seems that trees growing in the basin area secreted a volatile organic compound that strongly irritated human tissue.

Paganism interprets such natural evil as a normal occurrence. The pagan mind cannot imagine nature without evil in it. Evil has always been and will always be. Thus evolutionary theory relies on natural evil (struggle for survival) to bring forth life. That, says the pagan, is the message of nature.

Once this “revelation” is accepted, a counterfeit moral code quickly arises. For example, Sir Arthur Keith, a British anthropologist who had just survived Hitler’s bombing of Britain could write these amazing words in 1947: “To see evolutionary. . .morality being applied to the affairs of a great nation we must turn to Germany of 1942. We see Hitler devoutly convinced that evolution produces the only real basis for a national policy.”[13] American business tycoon John D. Rockefeller made the same inference: “The growth of large business is merely survival of the fittest. . . .This is not an evil tendency in business. It is merely the working out of a law of nature.”[14]

Sin-damage to nature confuses the creation message in many of its parts. Chaos and apparently useless features appear in enough places that Christians’ argument-from-design (teleological argument for existence of God) is difficult to state precisely. Nature is not normal, and therefore does not perfectly reveal God’s original workmanship. [15]

Sin-Damage to Man’s Rule over Nature

You saw above that sin damaged man’s first divine institution of responsible dominion both in its extent and in its quality. Let’s look further at this damage. Strangely, the cursing of nature has had some beneficial results for man in his falleness. We are forced to work together to produce whether we like it or not. A number of other effects also follow. North makes very insightful observations:

“There are no free lunches in a cursed, scarce world. . . .Given the perverse nature of man, a less productive world is a necessity. Having to work is. . .a way of draining energy that might have been put to perverse ends. Men have less free time to scheme and pillage. They have less strength. . . .An expenditure of time, capital, and energy in increasing the productivity of the land could not be used simultaneously in order to commit murder and mayhem. . . .The curse of the ground is also a blessing for the ground. Men in a scarce world must treat the creation with care if they wish to retain the productivity of the ground.[16]

Again the pagan mind can’t interpret the situation correctly. Thinking evil has always been part of existence; the carnal mentality sees labor as inherently toilsome with no higher calling. From ancient Greece to many in America’s present labor force, work (especially “blue collar” work) is treated with derision and avoidance where possible.

The biblical Christian, on the other hand, knows that labor was the first occupation of God and of man. A creative person cannot help but labor over nature to produce worthwhile fruit. He knows that the thorns and thistles in every job are not what labor is all about. They are merely abnormalities added because of sin. Later in this series I will show how the spiritual life closely parallels physical labor. We struggle with that part of nature closest to us–our flesh–to bring it into subjection under Christ that His fruit, and not thorns and thistles, might be produced. Sadly, Christians often drift into pagan modes of thought, looking for some “secret” that will subdue the flesh
without labor (note God’s words to Cain in Gen. 4:7).

Charles Clough
Bible Framework Part 2
pp 62-63

I would like to make a quick comment or two about this Charles Clough quote. First is a definitional issue. I hold to a definition of evil that states that:

Evil is the policy of Satan as the ruler of this world.  Evil is the modus operandi (method of operation) of Satan from the time of his fall throughout the angelic revolution and down to the point when he became the ruler of the world. Evil is Satan’s failure to produce a system of good in mankind and society that would bring in a pseudo-millennium. Evil is Satan’s system by which he administers the rulership of this world.  Satan cannot restrain sin; therefore, he parlays human good into sin and evil.

By this definition the world cannot be evil. It cannot think or choose to be in concert with Satan and his goals for mankind.

I also disagree with the Gary North quote (a well known Calvinist theologian) that states that the curse of the ground is a blessing for the ground, that is just not true. To be fair I think his point is that the ground is cursed but it could be even worse if mankind didn’t have incentive to take care of it. Point taken but I think he is overstating his case.

Here is a quote from Paul’s epistle to the Romans stating that all of creation is groaning after Adam’s fall:

19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
20
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;
21
because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

Romans 8:19-22

If anyone is interested I tracked down two web resources which deal with Romans 8:22 and the curse:

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One Comment on “Evil in Nature”

  1. dANq3Q9 Says:

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