Okay, I had been leaning this way for a very long time, having even argued with the professor that “natural evil” does not exist. Things can occur in nature that have bad, sometimes devastating effect on humans, but that doesn’t make them evil. And finally, just read (which is truly screwing with my paper) an excellent article ( Faro, Ingrid. “The question of evil and animal death before the Fall.” Trinity Journal (September 2015): 193-213) that points out that the cycles of nature (weather patterns, death of animals and plants, earthquakes, tidal waves, etc.) occurred prior to the history of mankind. And, since God did not create evil but only good, natural evil does not exist. Entire species of plants and animals existed prior to an ice age – we have evidence of it through paleontology; the continents used to be in different formations. Just because the “furniture” has been rearranged does not mean there was evil in the cycle.
I truly think that evil must have an actual intent – not that it is part of the cycle of life. Death happens because we are limited creations – we have a finite existence. That doesn’t make death bad. Now we can die of horrible diseases – but does that make the disease evil? Whatever microbe has caused the disease, or warping of the cancer cells that we are all born with, or failure of our body to fight off the disease – it can have devastating effects on the people suffering, their families and friends, but I still don’t think it’s evil.
Which is why I’ll still use the example of “natural evils” in the paper, because I believe that they still provide an opportunity for mankind to learn, to grow, to utilize overwhelming good to overcome some of these effects.