Does everything happen for a reason? Many people believe so, but as we discussed yesterday, sometimes things happen because of the kind of world we live. What do I mean by that? What kind of world do we live in? Our world demonstrates at least the following three tendencies that very much affect why things happen.
First, something scientists call the second law of thermodynamics – this is a principle of heat transfer that says things, generally, move from order to disorder. The technical word for this is entropy. Things rot, they rust, they wear out, they break. It is the super-rare exception that a car, for example, would improve its working order. Cars break down and need tune ups. Our bodies heal, yes, but the normal tendency is that they age and break down. This is what Paul is likely referring to in Romans 8:21 when he says that creation is in bondage to decay.
Second, Satan is in the world, tempting, lying, and as we read in Scripture devouring. And he is no joke. We should be cautious in our view of Satan’s influence. I so often hear that a person is going through a difficult situation because of Satan. But we really don’t know that Satan is responsible, do we? If your car is broken down, it’s almost certainly not because of Satan; it is because cars follow the second law of thermodynamics, and they break down. It seems to me that we are generally too quick to blame Satan, and maybe we blame Satan when it was actually our own fault. He is real, though, and powerful, and he does tempt and devour.
The third way to describe our world is talk about the broken and fallen nature of people. People are in the world using their free will in ways that are selfish and harmful. Sometimes we are dealing with pain of our own making. Sometimes the pain is brought on us by others. Sometimes it is both. Because we have free will, and we don’t always use it in a way that is in keeping with God’s Kingdom, it leads to pain.
But does that mean God is hand’s off? Deism is a view of God that says this. God created the universe, he set things in motion, but is now hand’s off. Like a bowler releasing his bowing ball. Is God like that?
Or is God in control? That is the second phrase we’re fact-checking. I’m bringing them together at this point because they are related. “God is in control” is very much connected to the idea that “Everything happens for a reason.” Usually we think of God like that. He is in control, and therefore the pain we’re going through must have meaning or a purpose. There is a reason.
But does God control things like that? If he does, then why is there so much pain and evil in the world? Some people state, assuming that God is good and that God is all-powerful, that he would control the world so that there would not be pain or evil. Because the world is obviously filled with pain and evil, they conclude that either God is not good or God is not all-powerful. As a result, some say, God doesn’t exist.
These are deep questions, hard questions, scary to bring up. But let’s face it head on. What do we Christians do with this situation of evil and wickedness in the world? Is God in control?
We Christians respond to this in a number of ways. And that is what we will investigate in our next post, so check back in!