When God looked at his creation, saw the dazzling nebulae and heard the ravishing symphony of streams and winds and waterfalls, he called it good. Then he turned his eye to humans. Men and women were the sub-creators, the commissioned rulers, the caretakers and love-givers of creation. Looking at them, God knew that “it was good … it was good … it was very good.”
And it is very good: The beauty, the freshness, the fertility of the earth; the love and heroism and passion of humankind. It is very good.
And it is very bad. Nature revolts. Tsunamis wipe out tens of thousands of people. Earthquakes crush and destroy. Hurricanes sweep away entire cities. Drought and disease kill untold millions.
But the harm caused by nature pales before the harm caused by her supposed caretaker and love-giver. It is humans who crash jet airplanes into buildings filled with people. It is humans who pack their fellows into cattle cars and ship them off to gas chambers. Humans, who torture and control and hate; who brutalize, degrade, and destroy.
Dostoevsky’s character, Ivan, in The Brother’s Karamazov, described it this way: “A Bulgarian I met. . . was telling me all about the atrocities being committed. . . they set fire to homes and property, they cut people’s throats, they rape women and children, they nail prisoners to the palisades by their ears and leave them there till the morning and then hang them, and so on; it really defies the imagination. We often talk of man’s ‘bestial’ cruelty, but that is. . . insulting to beasts. . .”