Does theology of massive extinctions exists?

Natural history tell us that in the history of life on Earth there were several massive extinctions of life, before humans even came being. If I would be asked, I would tell that this was result of God’s choice to make this cataclysm happen and various species to disappear. (I hope that my lack of knowledge in this field doesn’t distorted reality too much.) This point of view implies that God is not only a Creator and Ruler of Universe, but in some sens also destroyer of life (I don’t know if this is right choice of words).

In Bible there is plenty of examples when God shows his power of destruction, by bringing floods, poisonous snakes, famine (with Covid-19 hard not to think about it) or death to man, to mention only one episode from Act of Apostles, so this is not very controversial point. At the same time when I found relatively a lot theological materials about God as creator of life, I have found nothing about God roles in destroying life and massive extinctions are extreme examples of that.

This lead to my question: does theology of massive extinctions exists at all now? If it doesn’t exists, why is such omission possible? Only reasonable answer that I can find is that theology of creation in today’s sens of the word is still to young and it haven’t enough time to consider events such as massive extinctions.

Why would the death of animals require a theological answer? Animals were considered food for man and other animals so no explanation is needed. Perhaps I am missing the point of your question.

Mass extinctions have taken place before and life has rebounded each time. But before the extinction event currently in progress, the causes have been discrete catastrophic events and their aftermath. This time the cause is our sudden possession of technological prowess and unchecked appetite to extract ever more resources for our exclusive use. Never before has the cause of an extinction event been sentient, sapient and possessed of free will. So far the planet’s natural capacity to maintain homeostasis has been sufficient to right the ship following every calamity. Now it seems the only way to restore balance requires our participation or else our own extinction.

I’ve certainly encountered plenty of Christian indifference to what we are doing to the planet, though never here. The worst Christian mindset seems to regard the biome that includes us as a kind of yolk sack provided to help us transcend the natural world to find our permanent home in the supernatural. But the competing competing mindset takes dominion over life here as a responsibility to see the entire web of life thrive.

I suppose there are schools of theology which support both the biome as human larder view and the view of humanity as caretaker for the biome of which it is part. In the same way, two hundred years ago there would been a divide over whether every race of man was rightfully a child of God or whether some were better fit to serve as beasts of burden for their betters. I don’t know that the answer is to be found in better theology or whether theology evolves to fit our own improvement.

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I would not expect the Bible to address mass extinctions as they were unknown to the writers and audience when written, and would have been nonsense and distracting to the message of the text, which is God’s revelation to man. Indirectly, I suppose God’s discourse to Job might be applied, where God controls and interacts with creation on different levels, and think most EC types are comfortable with that.
It gets to be a problem when either as an YEC or EC, or an ID adherent, one tries to make the Bible a scientific text, or even as an owners manual for life.

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Is it not written that God is the Potter? He can make one pot for Honor and it is displayed in the Holy Temple of God with Honor. And He can make a pot for dishonor, and people poop in it to be destroyed later.

Peoples are no different. The mass extinction of all unbelievers is foretold in Scriptures and will come to pass one day.
Mass extinction of all life in the oceans will be destroyed:

Rev 16:3 And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.

Scriptures teach there will be no more oceans:

Rev 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (OCEANS)

So yeah, Mass destruction abideth aplenty during the 7 year Tribulation Period.

I fall into the same camp as those who don’t find it necessary for their to be a doctrinal development over what the Bible has to say about mass extinctions. I believe in free will. Not just for us but for animals and even as a form of randomness in nature. I don’t believe God is guiding meteors or volcanos to react destructively with our earth.

I do agree that this upcoming extinction will be one caused by us. Our species is just so destructive. Even the way we handle our corpses is counterproductive to nature.

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I’d blame the t-rex for causing the downfall of the larger, non-avian dinosaurs, but we all know his arms were too short to grab the fruit from the tree of knowledge.

In some way, which I admit is tautological, all these mass extinctions ended up with humans – beings we believe ultimately share the image of God.

I find it hard to believe there ever was a garden or idyllic world that man ruined. It has been this way since the beginning. It defies our sensibilities at times but God created it this way and it must somehow work towards hs intended purposes and be deemed good.

Vinnie

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Not guiding, not stopping. Completely oblivious to them by all practical intents and purposes. God doesn’t look sovereign or omni-benevolent in that framework. The universe looks exactly like it would without God. Score one for atheism.

Surely there has to be a better answer?

Vinnie

I don’t think it’s a score for atheism or anything. I think it’s just a fact. God is not blowing clouds this way and that way. Katrina was not sent because New Orleans was evil. The insect smashed against my window was not some god sent omen.

I tend to tentatively agree with that but I also I feel I disagree on finer points. I’m conflicted. Of course Amos 3:6 disagrees with both of us. It assumes it as conventional knowledge. One might ask, if New Orleans was NOT evil, why wasn’t Katrina not prevented? I think what troubles me about this position is not only does nature looks oblivious to humanity but you are simultaneously deeming it as occurring outside of God’s control as if its somehow external to God or operates outside his sovereignty. . When we have a newborn child, we baby-proof our homes. It is the ethical and responsible thing for parents to do. The universe does not seem to affords us such protections. I can’t help but see this as a point for atheism. We look like a science experiment gone bad. I think we should be encouraged by this to dig deeper into the issue.

I think we need to err back towards the side of Amos without fully embracing it. God is sovereign and made the universe a specific way. It includes what we call natural evils. There must be a good reason, as harsh and unloving as it seems.

3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Vinnie

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Depend on what you precisely understands by “massive extinctions”. If you meant by this death of enormous number of species, that would not go back afterward, this is true.

If you think that extinct of almost all life on earth was destroyed, but all species of animals come to life afterward, in such cases very little can compared to the story of Noah’s flood.

Also, something doesn’t need to be in the Bible to develop theology of it. All works on Evolutionary Creationist seems be perfect example of that.

As side not, I’m not American so I can’t always decipher acronyms as “YEC”, “EC” or “ID”. I guess that ID stands for Intelligent Design, YEC for Young Earth Creationist.

Deaths of particular members of some species, which are replaced by other members of this specie, are not concern to me here. Whipping out from existence a vast number of species, dinosaurs are the most famous example, which seems to be part of God’s plan is different thing.

If someone try to develop theology of God as creator with accordance to evolution theory of life and natural history, he/she also need to find some theological framework, why God decided to remove so much of them in massive extinctions events.

Is my point clear now, or I’m still to muddy in my words?

It’s not occurring outside of his control, just outside of his concern. If you trace it all backwards it becomes obvious.

Take a volcano exploding. First how long has that pressure and lava been rising? Thousands of years? How long has that volcano been there? Millions of years? How did it develop? Was fault lines and a multitude of other things? How many millions of years did that take? Did the breaking of Pangea play a role in that land fault line de looming where it developed? For how many thousands of years has humanity been working towards living there and how many thousands of years have they been living there.

To say that it happened because God willed means that God controlled the fault lines and the moving plates. To plan back that far in order to have it explode on some current tribe requires millions of years of planning which means God had to control or influence the original tribes to make their way to where that mountain was. So I think instead, God is not controlling all these things. They happen. He may or may not want people living there through prophets or dreams or through scientists.

All theology that accepts nature as it is, lacking nothing in its autonomy from eternity.

Nobody in the Bible knew about mass extinctions, and they all occurred when no humans were around. Therefore there is no, say, theology of the Permian extinction. Some thing that God chucked the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs to make room for us, but to me that’s just a bizarre idea.

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I agree that God is not an cosmic asteroid director, but mass extinctions do empty niches that new life grows into, and thus may be part of the creative process. It is interesting to consider how pruning is necessary at times in a garden.

Pruning implies a light touch on plants that encourages them to be healthier and/or bear more fruit. It isn’t a blitzkrieg that wipes out most of life.

Mature theology fully accepts all of the findings of science and all of its implications, above all the eternity of self-pruning nature.

I respect your view, but I disagree. I believe that any such big omission in theology will go back to bit us.

Do you think that is also no need to develop theology of evolution beyond that what is in Scripture? Because I don’t know any part of Scripture that support your believe in randomness in nature, but of course I’m not men that know Bible by heart.

I don’t know that I agree with that. Can you give some arguments for that being distinctive feature of mature theology?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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