Question: I’ve just learnt that you’ve had a really big ‘quake in San Diego. You’re remarkably assured on this subject and bacteria in your apologetics. I wonder if you still feel the same. Answer: Well, if I hold to a world view and it is shaken by something like an earthquake, then it certainly was not a very firm world view.  Yes, to me earthquakes are a sign of God’s wisdom, certainly not of his weakness.  Plate tectonics is part of a worderful and elegant design to allow the earth to have fruitful soil and an atmosphere.  Without plate tectonics, there would be no atmosphere to speak of, and the earth’s surface would have become virtually sterile.   What a wonderful idea to have one element (just one!) which has a sufficiently long half-life so that life can be sustained on the earth over billions of years.  Also a good idea to have it be a very dense element so that almost all of it is at the center of the earth, giving us sufficient heat to maintain an atmosphere, but not enough radioactivity near the surface to cause massive damage to life.  Perhaps you see all this as just a lucky accident:  That we have plate tectonics sustained for billions of years and that the element responsible for maintaining that (uranium) is very dense, but I see the beauty of God’s design there. Now, if God were to ask me, I would have suggested he figure out a physical universe in which we can have an atmosphere and vigorous plant and animal life WITHOUT having plate tectonics (and therefore earthquakes), but I, for one, do not know of, nor can I conceive of a better universe than the one we live in.  I am not so arrogant so as to challenge God on that one.  What I do know is that I certainly do not want to live on a planet without plate tectonics (and earthquakes). If you see all this as just luck—as an undesigned accident, they you have more faith than I do!!! And yes, I think of bacteria as one of the wonders of creation.  Either God creates the universe and lets it run according to the laws he created or not.  Bacterial are an absolutely essential part of a world in which advanced life forms can exist.  Again, if you can conceive of a physical universe in which the atmosphere of a planet would contain sufficient oxygen and stable/inert nitrogen in it, also which then has an ozone layer to protect it from UV and nitrogen in the soil, thanks to the same bacteria which puts oxygen into the air, the I would like you propose a set of parameters for such a world.  Again, I see beauty and design there.  Now, it so happens that bacter evolve according to natural laws, and the same bacteria which is absolutely essential to life also has potential negative impact in the form of disease.  Again, if you have a better universe in mind, please share it—not one which exists in your mind, but one which would actually function according to fixed laws. So you are right, the fact that an earthquake happened near to where I live has no negative impact on my faith in a wonderful creator at all.  What my faith does make me do is find ways to go to Mexicali (I plan on going next month) to help with the damage from the earthquake. John Oakes         

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