"For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the
faith of God without effect?" (Romans 3:3)
Tragedy struck on January 31, 2000, when Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crashed into the Pacific Ocean off the southern California coastline near Ventura. All 88 people on board perished. On May 4, in concert with Ventura's 27th annual Day of Prayer, residents and community leaders of the area gathered to remember the dead, honor those whose rescue efforts turned to recovery efforts, and bring closure to the episode for the many residents whose lives intertwined with grieving loved ones. As featured speaker, I was asked to put the tragedy into a larger perspective.
As always, creation thinking provides the answers. The creation/evolution controversy boils down to a war between two worldviews, the naturalistic, evolutionary worldview, or the theistic, creationist, Christian worldview. Which worldview is more scientific and which should dominate our schools, society, and personal thinking? Which way of thinking will better minister to those experiencing tragedy?
The evolution view proposes that only natural processes have ever occurred. There is no meaning to life other than that which we choose to give it. There is no ultimate reality, no absolute right and wrong, no life after death. Furthermore, life's tragedies have been going on for hundreds of millions of years, long before man arrived. Death and pain and suffering—that's just the way things are, and it was the extinction of the less fit that allowed man to evolve. To a knowledgeable evolutionist, death is good. What comfort is that in time of grief?
Now consider the creation view. In the beginning, things were "very good" (Genesis 1:31), no death, pain, or tears, with man in perfect fellowship with his Creator. That fellowship was broken, as man rejected God's authority and disobeyed His law. Disobedience is sin, and "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The penalty of man's disobedience passed to all of creation (Romans 8:22-24), with everything in the process of death and decay (Genesis 3:19). We live in a cursed world, dominated by sin and its penalty, unable to change the situation. But understanding this is little comfort.
Thankfully, the Creator has acted to remove the dominion of death, by entering creation as a man Himself, living a sinless life for which no death penalty was demanded, and dying as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Then, He rose from the grave in victory over sin and death, offering us eternal life. He has pledged to create a "new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (II Peter 3:13), where there will he "no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" (Revelation 22:4). At long last creation will reach and maintain God's "very good" intention for it, and those who have accepted His free gift of eternal life will be there too.
You see, to a creationist, death and pain are but temporary intrusions, brief postponements of God's ultimate plan rather than survival of the fittest. In this plan the fit has died for the unfit, and eternity without tragedy awaits. What comfort this brings to the suffering and grief-stricken.