People of faith have responded to such disasters in two ways. First they, like Darwin, have attempted to try and understand how such a world can be created by a loving God. While some at the fringes of the church have proclaimed the horror caused by earthquakes and hurricanes as the judgement of God, most Christians see something in the view that the creativity inherent in the world also brings with it risk. So the fault lines which cause devastating earthquakes have also been of immense benefit by providing minerals, oil, and good soil for agriculture. In fact, the 19th century evangelical and friend of Darwin, Asa Gray, argued that evolution’s waste and suffering were necessary for more complex forms of life to emerge in creation.
However, such insights can sound very trite to the person who has lost a loved one or been made homeless. In addition, they don’t provide a full explanation to the extent of suffering, a point which struck Darwin strongly.
It’s here that there has been a second response. Seeing in Jesus, both a God who gives genuine freedom to the Universe and a God of compassion in the face of need, churches have been motivated to be at the forefront of help to those affected by earthquakes despite the unanswered questions of suffering.