Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The voices look to the heavens, and ask Why?

The earthquake and tsunami killed over 225,000 people. Entire villages were destroyed. Thousands of children orphaned. Survivors are left with no home, little water or food, no way to earn a livelihood.

The largest chorus of voices ask, why? Craig read from Job this past Sunday, in which Job, a man blessed with everything in life, has it all taken away by Satan. In response, Job prostrates himself and worships:

And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.

Some religions teach that a destructive and killing act such as a tsunami is punishment for sins of mankind. Atonement is the only proper response.

I do not picture a God with puppeteers’ strings off the end of his/her fingers. God does not wave a hand in one direction, setting fire to a house in Nevada; point a finger in another direction to set off a volcano in Mexico. Such a theory smacks of determinism, meaning that we have no control over our own actions – thus, no responsibility. This is not a pure, linear cause-and-effect life, with an act of evil on the part of one human being resulting in a direct response from God to condemn that act.

God is not in the How, God is in the Why? The problem lies in the fact that we cannot answer the question with mortal words.

Another perspective is given in the latest issue of The Christian Century. In an editorial entitled “Creation Groans: Tsunami Theology”, the author points out that

To say God willed such devastation for some greater reason is to administer a theological slap to the tear-stained faces of all who mourn, especially the parents who mourn their drowned children. To say God was powerless to do anything to stop the disaster may make the divine seem less monstrous, but it leaves us with no God worthy of the name....

The article goes on to compare past religious tenets and theories about good and evil, and says that each of them still leave us without reason:

Evil should be mourned, and redressed as far as we are able, but not ascribed to any greater divine purpose.

Craig encourages us all to don the workgloves of God, and do his/her work. We do not ignore evil, or try to attribute it to the lack of some good somewhere in our previous actions, or try to redress it with more evil. We acknowledge evil, we respond with prayerful thought, and we carry out our own good.

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