Clearly, Coronavirus has brought us together, only to divide us along religio-political lines. Well, politics may beg to differ because this is the first time in history that opposition parties cannot blame incumbent parties for a problem, or vice versa.
But religiously speaking, the statement that a virus has put us at two sides of the ring remains valid and true. That takes us back to old tussles and debates, old questions and puzzles. Unsettled arguments about God’s existence, Omnipotence and love for humanity have dominated social media conversations in recent times as the world struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Millions of people are in quarantine, a calamity for countless individuals and businesses; stock markets and economies are in free fall, even as governments are racking up unparalleled debt trying to save them; and experts believe the world has entered recession. This highly infectious flu has triggered a worldwide contagion of irrational fear and emotion. Humanity has lost its mind.
And where is God? Does he have a hand in this? Can He solve this case?
These crises will throw some points on the scoresheets for atheists. But that is not a problem. The problem is that atheists don’t want viruses to remain viruses, they don’t want God to remain God, but they want to remain atheists.
Let us go straight to the point: God has no hand in this Coronavirus pandemic. And He’s not happy the way you all attempt to make him the epicenter of this matter.
Natural calamity (or even if it is artificially induced) is not the result of God’s will, at least not in every circumstance. An argument can be made from scripture that God does indeed use calamity in some circumstances as judgment on sin, but often it is the natural concomitant of a creation which has lost its priestly mediator.
Here’s a question I shared on Twitter…
To suggest that God could have created a perfect world devoid of problems is a lot to ask for. Let’s take a look at a few options. If God had not created anything, there would be no evil. But is nothing better than something? Hardly. This would be a world without morality. What if God created a world where people could not choose? God could force everyone to stop before they were able to carry out evil behavior. But is such a world where freedom does not exist good?
Could God make a world with no evil suffered? It seems He could. But He has not done so. Given our material world of interacting between things, lions will eat gazelles, worms will eat apples, and people will get sick from viruses. So while the farmer is disgusted at the worm for destroying his apples, the worm, having had a field day can now prostrate to its maker in appreciation for finding food.
A cheetah would cease to live, if there were no slaying of animals.
The question is essentially the same that people ask when a hurricane wipes out hundreds of lives or when a child dies from cancer. It is called the “problem of suffering”, “the mystery of evil” or the “theodicy,” and it’s a question theologians have grappled with for ages.
Perversion and imperfections in natural things are said to be unfavorable to some particular nature; yet they are in keeping with the plan of universal nature; inasmuch as the defect in one thing yields to the good of another, or even to the universal good.
The corruption of one is the generation of another, and it is through this that a species is kept in existence. Since God then provides universally for all beings, it belongs to His providence to permit certain defects in particular effects, that the perfect good of the universe may not be hindered, for if all evil were prevented, much good would be absent from the universe.
Viruses are viruses. They maintain their name, their reputation and their fame by being viruses. They are not meant to have antidotes!
Atheists respect common cold viruses and understand that they shouldn’t have a cure, but won’t let Coronavirus be. Why non-believers have never demanded a cure for common cold viruses with the same energy they are advocating for Coronavirus beats imaginations.
But God won’t glorify these blatant double standards. This is how he too has remained God. So yeah, technically, He cannot offer a solution! A cure for viral diseases is not the original creation plan.
Is God aware we are suffering? Does He care? Can He do anything about it? This brings another two pronged opinion: either God is all-powerful but does not care about human suffering, or God cares about human suffering but He is not all-powerful. It is called the “inconsistent triad”.
So in resolving the seeming contradiction, the most appropriate means is a denial or correction of the premise. Since we cannot deny God’s love or His Omnipotence, the lot falls on a further interpretation of what evil is.
When parents decide to move their family from one city to another, this can genuinely be very difficult for a young child. It may be experienced by the child as the absolute worst suffering that could ever occur. In the moment, the child might be certain that all happiness is behind him, that his parents hate him, and that for all practical purposes his life is over.
What we know as evil is not actually evil. This wins the support of what English poet Alexander Pope said, “Disorder is harmony not understood, and partial evil is universal good”.
We can also understand the universe as a place of complementary dependency. All beings instinctively seek goodness to their own survival, ultimately acting selfish and creating evil.
Christian thinker Augustine defined evil not as a thing in and of itself, but as a parasite on good. Something that is lacking is not a thing in itself. This solves some important criticisms. If evil is not an actual thing, then God cannot be the author of evil. God is the author of good, but we make moral choices that result in evil.
In sum, God created the coronavirus, but He did not create the coronavirus pandemic.
Contrary to popular opinion, the coronavirus is not the judgment of God for the sin of the world. Because of God’s great love for us, Jesus bore not only the judgment of God for sin but also our sickness and disease.
This planet is under our stewardship and God is not going to intervene as we have free will and must tackle these challenges ourselves, He did give us the ability and knowledge after all! More terrible things will still happen, it’s up to us how we respond.