Theology and natural evil

I’ve wondered for years: Is the average preacher an idiot, or a whore who specializes in servicing idiots? That is, do they believe the insane stuff they peddle, or do they know better but peddle insane stuff because it’s easy to sell to idiots? I’ve favored both ends of that spectrum through the years.

Today, for instance, Holy Man Albert Mohler undertakes to correct Christianity Today’s editor over the provenance of evil.

Daniel Harrell, who prior to his experience was pastor of the Park Street Church, an historic evangelical congregation in Boston and then a church in Minnesota, he just recently joined Christianity Today as editor in chief, and he evidently intended to spark a discussion with an article that was posted at Christianity Today on the 17th of March.

[ … ]

He wants to argue that a virus is a part of the creation that God has made, the way God made it. He writes, “The theological tendency is to view God’s creation as a good thing gone bad, all due to our avaricious overreach as humans.” He goes on to say, “Any cursory survey of human history confirms this.” But he writes, “Unless God’s creation defies every characteristic of biological reality, bacteria and viruses are not bitter fruits of the Fall, but among the first fruits of good creation itself.”

He continues, “If the science is right, there would be no life as we know it without them. God makes no mistakes,” argues Harrell, “and bacteria and viruses indeed are mirabilis (from the Latin meaning remarkable, or even amazing or wondrous, adjectives,” he writes, “frequently used to describe creation) and part of the plan from the start.” He concludes the paragraph, “Better to view creation not as something perfect gone awry, but as something begun as very good, only not yet finished.”

You can see the problem. The science is definite, unambiguous: pathogens and viruses long-preceded humankind. Christian theology is equally definite: The world was perfect, without hungry pathogens, before the Fall and the introduction of sin into Paradise — after the appearance of humankind.

This is, of course, too ridiculous. Pathogens preceded humankind and, worse, evolve more rapidly than homo sapiens. New species of killer bugs are going to appear vastly more rapidly than we can kill them, and pandemics are going to be part of the human experience until the sun burns out.

But notice: Mohler writes just as if this is a serious conversation, something learned men might reason and disagree about. He is serious — and, therefore, I put him among the idiots, not the whores. Today, I mean.

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