If God Promised Noah, No More Floods, Why Do We Still Have Natural Disasters?

Q: In simple terms, when God made the covenant with Noah, he said he would not destroy everything he created, including animals, birds, etc., by flood again and gave us the signature of this covenant with a rainbow. The deaths due to floods today, is that just an act of nature and not God?

This is a question that commonly arises after natural calamities such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, or wildfires. If our God is good and the created world is good – as God declares in the first chapter of Genesis – then how is it that so many still perish in natural disasters today? Why does God allow this? Are natural disasters acts of God’s judgment against humanity?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives a resounding ‘no’ to such questions. It states that “the universe was created ‘in a state of journey’ (in statu viae) toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. … In God’s plan this process of becoming involves … the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.” (CCC 302, 310) This is the Church’s way of saying that the pain, heartaches and deaths caused by floods today are not willed by God, they are marks of physical evil that are separate from God. They are reflections of the reality that creation has not yet reached perfection. Until it does, we are left with the mystery of death and destruction, even as we strive to believe that God can make good come out of evil, as ultimately happened in Christ’s death on the cross.

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger

Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.