Today’s Bizarro comic addresses an interesting theological point. As human beings have found themselves seemingly under assault from forces of nature – volcanoes, earthquakes, floods, storms, etc. – they have sought ways to appease those forces. The idea that they might act mindlessly, that there might be no justice or injustice involved in the destruction they wreak, only blind apathetic processes, seems not to have occurred to anyone until relatively recently, presumably because the very fact of our existence and the natural forces that allow us to eat and survive seemed to call for an explanation in terms of some benevolent force at work.
But moving from the volcano to the possibility that something invisible might be behind it – and more like a person – was just a first step in our reflection and exploration. The scientific discoveries and theological reflections that have been offered in more recent history suggest that there is no theological approach to nature that will allow humans to simply make a volcano not erupt, whether by appeasing the volcano itself or some anthropomorphic invisible entity thought to control it.
Any reflection on our place in the cosmos, or on the forces of nature, which only gets as far as trying to feel safer by shifting the focus away from volcanoes to one or more invisible magic persons in the sky, has not gone far enough. We have so much more information now at our disposal, that to remain with ancient reflections on these matters, and nothing more, is downright foolhardy.