Jan. 4th, 2005

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From my point of view, God created the world, and the way it works. Therefore plate tectonics, subduction, earthquakes and tsunamis and the physics behind it all are his work. In fact things like tectonics, the water cycle which produces storms, vulcanism are actually necessary for life to exist on Earth. However, why do these natural forces produce evil like we've seen in South Asia? Well, as with most things in the faith, it has to do with a humanity that has been endowed with a will and a mind. Man is able to understand the forces of nature and to understand where it is safe, or failing that, the warning signs of approaching calamity. In fact, an entire tribe of sea nomads in Thailand were saved because they had a tradition of watching for the tsunami tide and running very fast up hill when they observed it. But, due to our sinful, disobedient and prideful natures we are often unwilling to learn these lessons or obey them when we do. Thai and Indian officials had ample warning of the tsunami and many years to prepare for the event. They chose to ignore it. If people fail to respect natural forces such as tsunamis or remain willfully ignorant of the danger, it seems that the responsibility lies with them, not God. Much like people who remain in places like San Francisco or Los Angeles, or people who continue to build on barrier islands in the paths of hurricanes or live in trailers in the Oklahoma panhandle. Sin, brought into the world by man's rebellion, has created a disharmony between us and God and us and Nature. This unbalance causes evil in the natural world the same way it causes evil within the hearts of men.

That being said, what could be God's purpose in designing a world where this was even a possibility? Well I don't think I am making much news here when I say that I don't know. The answers I've given you, natural processes coming into conflict with faulty human judgment, are somewhat unsatisfactory. We know that God is all powerful, all knowing and supremely benevolent. We know he has endowed mankind with a capacity for choice. We know that evil, painful things occur that can be easily understood, and there are other evil, painful things that seem totally incomprehensible. What I would say, as a Christian, is that God is as sovereign over the things we cannot understand as he is sovereign over those we can. His actions in this world are done to accomplish his will and are done with the full knowledge of eternity behind them. We, as limited, mortal creatures lack the ability to know, or in some cases even the capacity to discern the reasons behind events in this life. All I can say, ultimately, is that God loves us, and wants us to be happy and that this disaster, as with all pain and evil in this world that we cannot understand, is working within that plan and toward that goal. That doesn't mean we cannot be angry, nor does it mean we should not mourn and weep for the many who have lost all, and even more. It certainly does not mean we should not question and look for understanding in this tragedy. Your Aunt may consider herself very religious, but she has made a grave error in ascribing to God a motive that may well be false. It is presumptuous to say that God is somehow "angry" with these people, and has wrought this destruction as punishment. God is indeed angry with man, as man is in rebellion against God, it could hardly be otherwise. But the reaction that I as a Christian would point to is not plagues and disasters but to the life and reconciliation that God offered to us through his son, Jesus. God is not a God who is only filled with wrath and vengeance, he is a God who loves mercy and offers it freely.


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