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Discovery Magazine 5/1/2002

Why Does God Allow Tornados?

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

When you hear about tornados, hurricanes, or earthquakes, do you ever wonder why such things happen? People who don’t believe in God say that such tragedies prove God doesn’t exist. But that isn’t true. God is not to blame for natural disasters.

At the end of the Creation Week, God said that everything was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Natural disasters did not occur. But Adam and Eve sinned, and evil entered the world—which caused the Earth to be “cursed.” Eventually, God sent a worldwide flood as punishment for man’s sin. The apostle Paul wrote that the entire creation was subjected to the “bondage of corruption” as a result of man’s sin (Romans 8:19-21).

We know the changes that small, local floods can cause. A global flood would have changed the whole Earth, and would have produced conditions that permit natural disasters. For example, after that flood, God had to find a place for the water. Psalm 104:6-10 says that He lowered the ocean valleys and raised the land to make high mountains. As a result, temperature changes occurred that would have produced seasonal conditions unlike any before. Other factors were involved as well.

Tall mountains and deep valleys produce weather extremes. Drastic changes in the Earth’s crust (like fault lines) give rise to earthquakes. Large bodies of water and changes in climate cause hurricanes. Air and temperature changes produce tornados. Man’s sin, which was the reason for the flood, is ultimately responsible for the changes that produce natural disasters. It does not pay to disobey the Creator!

God created a world ruled by natural laws. If a man steps off the roof of a building, gravity will pull him to the pavement beneath. If someone steps in front of a moving train, it will probably kill him. The same laws that apply to gravity also apply to weather patterns. And, bad things sometimes happen as a result of something good. The purpose of rain is not to drown, but the result of rain may include drowning. Likewise, hot and cold air are essential parts of our world, but they can form tornados. If God changed natural laws every time people were in danger, no one could count on natural laws being predictable.

When natural disasters strike, we should turn to God for strength and let tragedies remind us that this world is not our final home. Our time here is temporary, and with God’s help, we can triumph over whatever happens (Romans 8:35-39). Christians, just like the apostle Paul, can know that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

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