As Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) said to the alien invaders near the beginning of Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” “The earth is closed today!” The world continues to respond to the current novel coronavirus pandemic by closing everything from churches, to restaurants, to movie theaters and many other public spaces in order to limit person-to-person interaction. While my own family practiced “social distancing” this past Sunday by watching a livestream of our pastor, we reflected on current events and the changes we are all making. We talked about having peace in the midst of trouble and the fact that God is still in control. Then my oldest son made an interesting comment. He said, “God made the coronavirus.”
This makes perfect sense to 9-, 6- and 3-year-old boys, my sons’ ages, who have a simple belief that God made everything. The coronavirus is a thing. Therefore, God must have made the coronavirus, right? Well, the answer is both yes and no. There are at least three things to consider when wrestling with this question.
1. Why Does Anything Exist?
As we have argued in many places like Southern Evangelical Seminary’s e-book, Why Trust the God of the Bible?, nothing at all would exist apart from the creative and sustaining power of God. Indeed, God at this moment holds in being the novel coronavirus, along with everything else that exists. Were this not the case, nothing at all other than God would “be.”
That is not to say, however, that everything that exists here and now is a special creation of God out of nothing. A piece of blue chalk causes a blue line on the chalkboard, but the chalk could do nothing apart from the hand holding it. The chalk is only an instrumental cause. In a similar fashion, God acts through secondary, or instrumental, causes in this world. As Thomas Aquinas puts it:
“Nor is it superfluous, if God can produce all natural effects by Himself, that they should be produced by certain other causes: because this is not owing to insufficiency of His power, but to the immensity of His goodness, wherefore it was His will to communicate His likeness to things not only in the point of their being but also in the point of their being causes of other things: for it is in these two ways that all creatures in common have the divine likeness bestowed on them, as we proved above.—In this way too the beauty of order is made evident in creatures.”
Assuming the novel coronavirus is a naturally occurring virus, God created the original virus(es) and animal kingdom that eventually provided the needed conditions for the novel coronavirus to emerge. Much like tornados, hurricanes, lightning and even other disease-causing agents, the novel coronavirus is a byproduct of the good world God created. How can this virus be part of a good world?
2. What Do We Mean By ‘Good’?
In the creation account of Genesis, we read that God called everything He made “good.” Does that include things like viruses? Classically speaking, good is a matter of actuality or being. Something is good to the extent that it exists as the kind of thing it ought to be according to its nature. Understood in this way, everything that exists is good in one respect just by virtue of the fact that it exists. Things are good instances of their kinds when they exist and fulfill the ends toward which their natures are directed. Even a virus, by virtue of existing, is good. Moreover, a virus that finds a host and replicates itself is a good virus. That is, it is fulfilling the end toward which it is directed. Notice that “good” means more than just “morally good.” (Moral goodness is a subset of good as such and is not our current topic).
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Adam Tucker