God and the Tsunami


Much has been made, with regard to the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean region a few days ago, of the question of how or whether or not God could cause/allow such terrible death, injuries, disease, etc., to devastate people and land. Christians, in particular, ask the question because they claim, as the New Testament records, that God is Love. Jews ask the question, though not perhaps for the same reason. Others don't ask the question because for them God doesn't exist, though for many, the question could be directed to the gods they worship, such as Allah or the deities enshrined in Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Animism, Confucianism and nature gods, etc.

Depending on their approach to the theology concerning God, some Christians may believe God knew the tsunami would happen but did nothing to prevent it, though God had the power to stop it from happening. These folks believe in predestination or foreordination, i.e., that God knew before He developed the Creation, including, mankind, everything that would ever happen, everyone who would ever live, how everyone would live, and when and how everyone would die. These people suffer the most confusion and frustration when contemplating what happened because they, in essence, actually believe that God caused the catastrophe, and this conclusion makes them attempt the impossible, to wit, synthesize God's love into the tragedy God caused, or at least knew about and didn't prevent. This, of course, is impossible, at least in human terms. This being the case, these folks just shrug, usually, and say the whole thing is a mystery connected to God and let it go at that.

Other Christians try to adopt shades of meaning between the one just mentioned and the one at the other extreme, to wit, that God had nothing to do with the tragedy, that it was simply an act of nature, and that it was just too bad. Others will try to meld the notion that God knew about (foreknowledge) the cataclysmically violent act, but neither did anything to stop it nor had anything to do with causing it. The fact is, however, that in the very act of Creation, God took the responsibility for everything that would ever happen, since nothing could ever have happened if nothing had been created, in the first place. This actually should explain, at least to the Christian, why the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ took place, i.e., that God redeemed a Creation made by Him that had gone badly wrong. This was an act of fairness as well as an act of love, since no one who has ever lived or ever will live asked or will ever ask for existence, but has experienced or will experience it anyway.

Perhaps the more pertinent question has to do with whether or not God knows the future, and, if so, whether or not He ever intrudes Himself into it by making some sort of special dispensation. This question divides Christians, also, not least because it goes to the heart of prayer. Would there be any reason to pray for a particular outcome if God already knows whether or not the outcome desired is to be delivered? The obvious answer is, "No." There is the notion, however, that God knows but expects to be solicited anyway, sort of like a father knowing he will let his son use the car but making him plead for the favor anyway. Most will agree that such action by a father is either mean or duplicitous.

So, did God Know about the tsunami…before it happened? The human intellect is incapable of understanding God. The creation is never as astute as the creator; however, God gave the human being a mind and obviously expects him/her to use it, even to attempt to understand something as awful as the tsunami, especially as it relates to the Creator. This also presumes other questions that relate either to the good things or the bad things that happen. Did God know about the Holocaust before it happened, the Civil War, the World Trade Center? Did God know in advance about the polio vaccine, an incomprehensibly good thing? Moreover, if God didn't know, why didn't He? After all, God made the universe and ought to know where it's headed at all times - right?

There are a number of accounts given especially in the Old Testament, shared by both Christians and Jews as the word of God, in which God changed His mind. This should debunk the notion that God knew everything that would happen before He created anything, since it's unreasonable to insist that God planned before the Creation when He would change His mind after the Creation. Suppose God, of His own volition, decided when He created humankind and the world that He would know about the end of them but not about the time in between the beginning and end, except as events unfolded, with the right to intervene in any situation as He saw fit, but not look into the day-by-day future. This restriction is not unthinkable, since the Creator had the power to know or not know, by definition.

In the creation process, according to people of faith, God made the world or universe or whatever. No one knows how, when, where, or why. It is obvious that physical planet Earth functions according to a pattern called by many nature, as well as in coordination with other parts and forces of the universe(s). This is obvious, on its face. There are, for instance, air, rainfall, snow, ice storms, whatever. There also are elements not easily seen, if at all, such as magnetic fields and earthquakes, although the results of the actions and interactions of these elements are easily seen, such as the Earth's orbit (sunrise/sunset) and tsunamis. If the orbit or makeup of the Earth varied by the slightest margin, life would not be possible, so these actions are more or less "set in concrete," even though terrible havoc is sometimes wrought as they necessarily interact. Those who believe that God created the world most likely would never believe that God would change it around very much, since to do so would make it uninhabitable. Scientists agree, whether or not they believe in God.

The recent tsunami was not the first. It was the result of a natural happening, one that is not uncommon at all - the earthquake. Perhaps it is well to take the position that God, just as the Indonesian or the Thai, did not see the tsunami until it happened, and by the very nature of things, will not violate the laws of nature in rearranging the Earth so that other disasters will not occur, since, by definition, He would be destroying the Creation.

Creator?

"And where to find the evidence?"
He sternly asked of me,
And I, with too much deference,
Remarked quite flippantly,
"Just take a look at all about -
Why…nature proves the point,
Just take a look, and all your doubt
Will be…well…out of joint."
He scoffed and laughed and made it plain
That cant marked my reply,
That only those who are insane
Would fall for such a lie,
That, after all, beyond this world
Are other earths and forms
That scholars claim have, too, been hurled
Through measured cosmic storms
By forces man can understand
Through scientific zeal…
These forces, then, to take in hand
To serve the commonweal;
Thus humbled by his words, I said,
"Yes, forces you describe
Are meant for measure - live or dead -
From whence your diatribe…
The evidence you deign to sift
Lies right within your mind,
Bound up in the Creator's gift
Of…reason…to mankind."