Sin and the Problem of Natural Evil

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I cannot help but think the problem of sin was not the primary reason for the Incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Traditionally, the story line goes that mankind fell into sin through Adam and Jesus came to redeem man from it. It’s all pretty transactional. Adam sinned, we inherited the guilt of sin and it’s consequences, Jesus came to deliver us from that and give us new life.

That’s all fine and good, but what about the problem of evil? It just doesn’t work to say that all evil in the world is because of the moral failure or sin of Adam. Nope. I don’t think Adam is to blame for hurricane Maria’s devastation of the Caribbean. Hurricanes aren’t caused by moral failure. They are purely a natural phenomenon; yet they produce tremendous evil and suffering.

Looking at Holy Scripture in the light of modern scientific knowledge, I have arrived at an hypothesis. God created the cosmos in a state of chaos. As Genesis tells us, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) The pattern we see throughout the first chapter of Genesis is of chaos being brought into order. Generally, Christians have concluded that the creative work of God is done and that he simply sustains the creation by his Spirit. I think this is incorrect. It appears to me that the Genesis pattern is the pattern for the whole of history and future of the cosmos. God is not finished creating; he is still bringing order to chaos and hastening the creation to it’s final eschatological end of perfection in order and symmetry.

The Big Bang is how science describes the initial creative event. Evolution is how science describes the rise of life and various life forms. I’m not certain there is a name for the evolution of the cosmos as such, but I believe it is a reality.

I admit,  I may be off the mark here, but it seems to me that primitive history was far more barbarous and “evil” than today’s world. It is now theorized that birds are the direct descendants of the dinosaurs. Consider how brutal the world of the dinosaurs was. Bloody life and death, day in and day out. Yet through a series of events still not fully know, that world has passed away and the descendants of that world are likely the beautiful feathered singers we call birds. The chaos of those days has evolved into an ordered beauty.

This scenario is a microcosm of the whole of history, I think. Sin, as moral failure, only became a reality with the rise of consciousness in humanity. Prior to that there could have been no moral or ethical values. Yet, looking back, we see there was great brutality and evil. It was not a world which was ordered and peaceful. So, when Holy Scripture speaks of “sin”, I think it is this larger, broader perspective that is ultimately in view. Jesus did not come simply to erase our transgressions, but to right all wrong. He came to bring “shalom”: to make things as they should be.

It was in his humble submission to the brutality, the evil of this world, this cosmos, that he entered into death and triumphed over that evil by his resurrection from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus both demonstrates God’s approval of Jesus and his life and work, as well as seals forever the victory of God over the powers of sin and death.

The notion that sin is primarily moral failure fails to address the idea of natural evil. It personalizes sin in the extreme and removes the redemption of God from the cosmos and places it merely on the souls of mankind. The personalization of sin has, at length, brought about a myopic view of the world to the Church. Christians are unable to deal with natural evil without invoking God or Satan as it’s cause. Natural evil is seen as judgment and a culprit is often found to blame it on. Often the culprit is a social minority seen as “sinful” by Christians. Christians fail to remember that judgment begins with the House of God. Only when His house is set in order will he judge the world.

So, to sum up, the word “sin”, in my opinion, should include natural evil. Especially in light of modern scientific discoveries that show us the chaotic brutal past that is our history on this planet. The cosmos is moving towards it’s consummation of perfect order and symmetry as the redemption of Christ plays out in history.

 

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A Few Things About Globalization 

It’s one of those days when I want to say something but have not yet gelled my thoughts enough to get it out. So, I’m just going to blabber a bit and hope to say something worthwhile.
Without touching on any specifics about politics, I’d like to say something about the political climate and general feeling of hopelessness and fatigue many of us are experiencing. 
While it may seem trivial, we now live in the 21st century. Not only was this an historical milestone for the books, but it was a generational climax for those born as children to the baby boomers. Most of us counted the years down in anticipation of the new millennium and dreamed countless hours about what life would be like for us in the year 2000. It was as though the “future” were just around the corner and we would live to see it and perhaps even influence and share in it. 
The turn of the century marked a real, tangible break from the old, dated, and tired Western culture with the rediscovery of the broader world and the influx of cultures. The possibility of a united world was made all the more real by the world wide web and the interconnectedness of communication across the globe. While the roots of these technologies lie in the 20th century, their fruitfulness rests in the 21st and beyond. 
Globalization is the enemy of nationalism; its arch-nemesis. Yet to many of Generation X and their offspring, globalization is an absolute inevitability. It’s cliche’, but old ways die hard. The current subculture of nationalism, fascism, nazisim, etc, is the direct result of revolt against globalization. It is the remnants of the 20th century attempting to reassert it’s meaning and value into today and wrest back or at least slow down the impending globalization of culture and politics. 
It takes on the forms of religion and patriotism but is actually, simply, fear of the future and the unknown. The shells of religion and patriotism give it a sense of self viability, but to any with eye to see and ears to hear, it’s “clarion call” is empty of anything but promises that cannot and will not be kept. The exposure of the emperor as naked is happening before our eyes. The hypocrisy of the past, namely misogyny, racism, sexism, and every form of prejudice and discrimination, are becoming so blatant that it’s hard not to laugh. 
There are those who will blame religion or patriotism. But those are merely the conduits through which these forces have chosen to flow. After they are finally dead and gone, religion and patriotism will remain; rejuvenated and transformed. 
In my opinion, not only is globalization inevitable, it is desirable. Without it we cannot solve many of the worlds problems such as hunger, poverty, ecological issues and global warming. 
That said, there are also those who would force globalization on a not yet ready public. While we should work for and toward globalization, to force it on a public that does not want it would be disastrous. Slowly but surly is the best method and the only one that will work. It is not without reason that many have had the foresight to write in literature and cinema about future civilization rising from the *ashes* of the old. I am reminded of the novel “A Canticle for Leibowitz” in which the author explored the unending lust of humanity for self destruction. I pray his assessment is wrong and that we have within us, not only to survive, but to thrive in the future without destroying ourselves. 
Finally, let me say that whatever happens in this election is not the end. For those who despair, the fate of the United States of America is not a signal to the end of the world. Yes, America is Great, but she is not immortal. One day she will die, hopefully to rise again just as the other ancient countries and civilizations have done for millennia. Vote your conscience and go about living your life. Change what you can and hope for the best for yourselves and your children, but do not despair if things don’t go your way. You are but a particle of dust in the winds of history. Your legacy will live through values and ethics you instill in your progeny. When a nation instills great values and ethics into it’s children, then that nation will rise up and be a great nation. Likewise, if those values and ethics are deeply flawed, so will the nation be who follows them.