Does God Let Nature Run On "Auto-Pilot"?

I know this sounds like Deism, etc but it seems quite possible / logical to me that God created the natural world (I can’t think of a better way of putting it) and then, for the most part let it run its course. So there are tornados or floods simply because of natural / scientific reasons. More importantly, people are born with or develop diseases, etc because of purely “natural” reasons (genetics, etc). Is it heretical to believe that? Christ himself said that people aren’t born with afflictions as a punishment. I’m not saying God cannot or has not inject his will into these things - I’m saying it might be rare exceptions, not the rule…

Yes and no. The deist proposes that God designed the world like a mechanical machine and then stepped away from it such that, once created, it would continue to run on its own without interference. This is not what the Church teaches. To quote the Catechism:

God upholds and sustains creation

301 With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end. Recognizing this utter dependence with respect to the Creator is a source of wisdom and freedom, of joy and confidence:

[INDENT]For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it. How would anything have endured, if you had not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by you have been preserved? You spare all things, for they are yours, O Lord, you who love the living.[/INDENT]

Rather than stepping back from creation, we believe that God is ever present to it. The universe continues to exist because God’s act of creation persists.

Saint Thomas Aquinas spoke clearly on this doctrine, teaching that God’s act of creation continues, and that this act allows created things to continue to move according to their own operations. This is where I get to the “Yes” part of my response. God is still there, still present, still creating, but allowing things to operate according to what they naturally are. God is the first cause behind everything, but because He permits things to act according to their nature, you can have secondary causes in how these things operate on each other, resulting in inequalities and evils in the world.

I would not divorce God’s will from the evils we experience, though. Not everything is punishment for a specific sin like the ancients believed, but God wills the world to exist and to operate according to its nature, and He knows how things have and do and will play out, and creates such a world even so, with every detail, you and me and each molecule and atom and quark and gluon known fully.

Have to consider the source that is telling people all these things have ‘natural’ explanations, if you notice modern day ‘experts’ have all but removed demonic from the causes for a variety of things, compared to the past when demonic influence was the culprit 9 times out of 10…I tend to think that is not a coincidence.

Yes, it does.


(Our Lady of Prompt Succor)

Our Father in Heaven through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, spare us during this Hurricane season from all harm. Protect us and our homes from all disasters of nature. Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

All of the evil in the world is due to sin.

Everything that occurs naturally has a scientific explanation. The consistency of natural events reflects the consistency of God. On a spiritual level, every second we exist is through the will of God. If God stopped sustaining us, all scientifically observable natural events would stop occurring and matter would be destroyed. Spirit would also be destroyed if God did not will it to exist. For human persons, this will never happen because God never changes his mind. Once a soul is created it is sustained forever.

Things that cause us suffering, such as disease or natural disasters, probably aren’t a specific judgment upon whoever is afflicted by them, but in the broad sense, the world is the way that it is because of the existence of sin. Jesus tells us that if Sodom and Gomorrah had experienced the miracles that Jesus performed elsewhere, they would have repented in dust and ashes. Likewise, it rains on both the righteous and the unrighteous. So, even the unrighteous experience God’s blessings.

But, there can be a moral dimension to naturally occurring events as well. The spread of some diseases are related to sexual immorality. Climate change is related to sloth and avarice. Poor health can be related to gluttony. Etc.

There are different spiritual reasons for why different events may occur, and these are not fully known to us. A wicked person might experience blessings in order to (perhaps) be led towards gratitude and therefore conversion. Or, they could experience unfortunate events in order to have the distractions taken away, and possibly turn towards God in conversion of heart. A person who is already within God’s grace can also experience happy events or unhappy events, both of which can be used for further conversion.

Also, how we respond not just to our own events, but to the fortune or misfortune of others will affect our conversion, as well as the conversion of others through example. If an unfortunate event befalls somebody, we can respond with mercy or with indifference or even with sadism.

In either case, how we respond to life events will lead us towards God or towards destruction. The longer we walk a certain road, the more difficult it becomes to turn around.


31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[a] you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

St Matthew 25: 31-46

I would say so.

And at all scales, from hurricanes and earthquakes to (mostly) inside our bodies.


What you are suggesting here actually amounts to a denial of divine providence which is a doctrine of the catholic faith and as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says is powerfully affirmed in the Scriptures (#303). The divine providence of God reaches out to the entire creation, from the least thing to the greatest “reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering all things well” (Wisdom 8:1). The solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate:

CCC#303. The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. the sacred books powerfully affirm God’s absolute sovereignty over the course of events: “Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.” and so it is with Christ, “who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens”. As the book of Proverbs states: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established.”

CCC#304. And so we see the Holy Spirit, the principal author of Sacred Scripture, often attributing actions to God without mentioning any secondary causes. This is not a “primitive mode of speech”, but a profound way of recalling God’s primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world, and so of educating his people to trust in him. the prayer of the Psalms is the great school of this trust.

CCC#308. The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes:

The secondary causes here is all of creation, all of God’s creatures. The causality of second causes is dependent on God, the first cause. Secondary causes don’t cause anything, nor can they, independently of God, the first cause.

I’m not saying God cannot or has not inject his will into these things - I’m saying it might be rare exceptions, not the rule…

It is not a matter of God injecting his will here and there in creation and possibly only on rare exceptions, but that without his will and causality nothing can happen in the entire universe much less exist. God’s will is the cause of things and not only when he first willed creation into existence at the beginning, but at every moment of its existence. Thus St Augustine says “nothing is done unless the Almighty wills it to be done, either by permitting it, or by actually doing it.” Here we have what is called in theology God’s will of permission and God’s will of good pleasure or operation.

Genesis 8:21
"Never again will I curse the earth because of man, because his heart contrives evil from his infancy. Never again will I strike down every living thing as I have done."

Therefore I believe that humanity is protected by Divine Providence from any kind natural disaster that might be equivalent to the Deluge of Genesis.
What we are not protected from is the world-wide disaster that mankind itself is now capable of enacting.

I further believe that YHWH will let man’s propensity towards violence run to its natural conclusion which is global nuclear war and that this will be His way of teaching us that we should take His commandment to love our neighbors seriously.

“global nuclear war”? The living will envy the dead. And that won’t be too many people.


My apologies for ranting about this all the time, but that is exactly what Scripture tells us.

Good to see you Guyman.

Now you’ve got me curious as to whether we have any Deists on the forum. Although at the same time I’m thinking that’s not really relevant, because I don’t see this as a question about Deism but rather an intra-Christian matter. (Deists believe that God doesn’t intervene in the world, not that he sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t.)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit