The earthquake and the ensuing tsunami in Japan are truly tragic and need worldwide attention. In the wake of yet another catastrophe people all over the world either pray to God for the victims and survivors of the earth-shattering calamity or point to the catastrophe as yet another reason why there cannot be a God. Human suffering, they point out, is proof enough that a loving God who would allow such suffering can not possibly exist.
But maybe there is another way to see this. Let us consider what earthquakes are, for instance. Earthquakes result in the pressure build-up of tectonic plates pressing on one another. When the mounting pressure becomes too much, the pressing plates at the fault line cause earthquake activity. But if there is a God why would He organize our planet in this manner to allow such natural disasters?
What we see when we probe into this question is that within the laws of physics currently operating in our universe it just so happens that tectonic activity is critically necessary in order to support life on a planet. The movement of the tectonic plates allows for recycling of nutrients vital for sustaining life. Not only this, but water also plays an interesting role in this system as well. Water lubricates faults in order to minimize the size of earthquakes. But here’s the kicker; too much water is not good either. We need to have just the right amount. Research has allowed us to see that too much water actually lubricates the faults too much resulting in more numerous, albeit somewhat smaller earthquakes.
As bad as the effects of earthquakes are and the devastation they cause, they are critical for life. Earthquakes cause many deaths all over the world every year, but without them no one would be alive. And we also need just the right amount of water to lubricate the faults just enough so as to avoid extremely large earthquakes. The finely balanced system that allows creatures like us to be alive and to be able to probe into the inner workings of the system itself is quite fascinating, arguing for the activity of a supernatural Designer preparing Earth for human habitation.
Additionally, the practical application that earthquakes allow in our human experience is also critical. First, we have to understand that life is a completely free and unwarranted gift and is extremely fragile. Many people probe into the meaning of life during the course of their lives, but most do not seriously consider God’s role in it. When we are comfortable and unchallenged by our circumstances we will generally not probe deep into the possibility of a God. Those who will reject the possibility of God will generally do so for any number of reason. Others will generally accept what they’ve been satisfied with – the God created by pop culture, the one that may be easier to accept at an arm’s length. Catastrophes and hardships make us realize how small we really are, remind us of our fragile nature and finitude and allow us the opportunity to search for God and come to a more accurate and deeper understanding of Him. For many of us the only way we look up in search of God is when we’re lying flat on our backs, and that, though it would always escape our attention in the immediate moments of pain, is ultimately a good thing.
Arthur is an author, a former agnostic, and current ambassador of Jesus of Nazareth who loves to share the best of reasons for God's ultimate reality. His love and passion are helping skeptics and Christians grow in their faith and knowledge of God through accessible materials.