Where is God in the Haitian Earthquake?



I think that this video presents a good response to the question of God and the earthquake.

24 comments:

  1. I echo Barbara's sentiments, Bob. As ungracious as it is, I find myself wanting to stuff a dirty sock in the ignorant mouths of those who say this terrible earthquake is punishment for of some sort of deal Haiti made with the devil in exchange for independence from France. Enough of this recycled baloney already!

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  2. it's our nature to ask where God is when bad things happen. But we don't even look for Him when good things happen. In some way I partially agree with the people who claim that disasters are God's way of reminding us that we need Him

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  3. I thought author Donald Miller had a good response to the ignorant speech CR.. you can check it out here. Of course I don't really like to give too much attention to some of those loud talkers.. it is what they want.

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  4. Good point Rygel.. crisis often turns our thoughts to the Lord.

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  5. Thank you, Bob. Donald Miller may just be onto something and I hope other readers will visit the link. However I still really wish Pat would just retire and allow his son to run the 700 Club. In the meanwhile...Fathe, forgive Pat Robertson, he knows not what he does.......

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  6. It's a terrible theodicy (mostly just circumlocution with a dash of question-begging), but sure beats blaming the victims as other Christians have infamously done.

    "it's our nature to ask where God is when bad things happen. But we don't even look for Him when good things happen."

    You're joking, right? I can't count the number of times in a week that I hear believers giving their deity credit for all sorts of good things. Consider the common dinner prayer where people thank God for the food. Or how about all those athletes thanking their god for their skill or achievement? You don't hear them blaming any God's for something bad, like an injury or a loss. Perhaps it's that thanking God for good things is so ubiquitous that you've tuned it out.

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  7. I wonder Sid.. are atheists thankful for the joys and enjoyments of life like having an ancestry that settled in America? What does thankfulness look like in the life of an atheist? Apart from thanking individuals do atheists give thanks? Are atheists grateful people? An honest question.. hadn't thought of it before I read your comment.

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  8. All good questions, Bob. Well, at least some of us are thankful. I'm certainly thankful for quite a lot. It's usually not ritualized like, say, a pre-meal prayer. It's also most often quiet and private (as opposed to out-loud and communal) unless it's directly thanking an individual. Because of it's private nature, I have no idea how thankful atheists are as a group. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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  9. Thanks Sid! From what you have written it seems that there is not an object to your thankfulness. I guess thankfulness can be a state of being with having an object.. it is a bit confusing though.

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  10. For me, personally, my thanks are for the countless people who have made whatever I'm grateful for possible. Take the example of a meal again. I am thankful to the growers, transporters, merchants, chefs, even the inventors of the equipment and farming techniques used and the scientists that made those inventions/techniques possible. The shear amount of human effort, smarts, and time that has gone into everything we use and do in ever day life is awe-inspiring.

    On the other hand, I think thankfulness (or something very much like it) can be a state of being without having an object. I guess it would be better described as "I'm glad I have this / had this happen to me." It's not thankfulness per se, but is a closely related emotional state.

    I hope that makes more sense.

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  11. Thanks Sid.. that does make sense that it is an abstract state of being rather than a giving of thanks in the sense that you say thanks to the growers and transporters.. you probably do not offer thanks at the dinner table for these folks.. but I guess you could?

    I do wonder if the giving of thanks is ever abstract? Maybe a better word for that state is one of contentedness?

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  12. One other thought Sid.. you could express thanks to the people at the grocery store if you were so inclined.. of course they might not feel that they need the thanks as they are being paid for what they do.

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  13. This video also begs the famous Epicurean question. Was god able but not willing? or willing but not able to stop disasters such as these? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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  14. Thx for stopping by Happy and for the question as well.

    Firstly God would have to be spelled with a little 'g' if he was not able.. so yes I think that He is able to intervene in every single crisis in the world and eliminate all sorts of human suffering.

    A question for you - would you have God eliminate all suffering in the world? If you answer yes then I think that you would be inadvertently saying that all beings that cause suffering would be eliminated.

    Of course one could want God to eliminate all suffering caused by natural disasters like flood, earthquakes and tornadoes.. as I do not know why such natural phenomenon occur I think that you would have to ask that question to someone with a scientific background.

    I did post a quazi-theological post about this stuff yesterday.. feel free to read and let me know if it answers or causes questions.

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  15. Thanks for the response. Regarding your question, well I think a supreme omnipotent being could effectively eliminate all suffering without eliminating the beings that cause it, couldn't he? For e.g. if a being wants to cause suffering to another being, couldn't God simply remove the entire thought process that leads him/her/it to act on it? You could argue that doing so would essentially take away freedom but allowing someone to commit a despicable act is in no way moral especially when you have the power to stop it. Also some acts are attributed to another supernatural entity called Satan, again doesn't God's omnipotence govern that entity as well?
    The question about natural disasters is not a scientific one in my opinion. We do know to some extent why natural disasters happen scientifically. A scientific explanation is apathetic towards humans and that correlates perfectly with what we see in the real world. The question is that if there is a supernatural entity that governs the natural realm and who is not apathetic towards humans then why doesn't he stop all disasters?

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  16. Good thoughts Happy.. thx for the dialog.

    I think that the resolutions that you propose essentially change the very nature of humanity and makes God a micro-manager of human behavior. I wonder.. if humans were unable to do bad things then why would they need God.. why would they need to pray.. would people have a relationship with God or simply ignore Him? Now I am not saying that people only have a relationship with God for selfish reasons but if everyone was like God then maybe God would not be needed.. of course then the created might feel equal to the creator.. that could yet usher in other problems.. I do not think that answers are that simple when you consider the alternatives.

    I do think that natural disasters are a mystery to me.. I really do not understand them and have no real answers concerning why they happen except to say that bad stuff happens.

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  17. I came across this quote today Happy and in light of the topic wondered what you might think about it..

    "We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world." -Helen Keller

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  18. Bob thx for your responses, I have really enjoyed this conversation.

    Well I am not proposing anything. All I am stating is that the model of a omnipotent and ultimately moral God is inconsistent with what we observe in the real world. My point is that only a Utopian world can be consistent with such a God. In my humble opinion the very reason that we do not live in such a Utopian society leaves us with the following options: Either he does not exist, or he exists but is not omnipotent, or he exists, is omnipotent but simply unwilling to help which would make him immoral.

    The quotation is quite interesting. In a world where only joy existed maybe those are virtues we would not need. Would that lessen our human experience? Probably not if we postulate that they simply aren't part of that reality.

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  19. @Happy - You feel that you would be happy being mentally micromanaged and think that it is a good thing? Seems that humans would be more like pets and dolls than humans. Being mentally and morally micromanaged might be heaven to some but I think it would eventually be a bit more like hell to others.

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  20. Bob, I am not stating that I would be happy being mentally controlled. I am merely stating that a reality where an omnipotent, omnipresent, morally perfect God exists would have to by definition be micromanaged by him.

    Let me explain. Let us assume(and I am sure you will agree with me on this) that God has the following three qualities:
    1. He is omnipotent - Has the ability to intervene in all events and affect their outcome.
    2. He is omnipresent - He is the observer of all events.
    2. He is morally perfect - Has never committed and can never commit an immoral act.

    Now let us look at an event X in reality where some evil has been perpetrated. Now if while this evil was being perpetrated an observer Y had the ability to 'micromanage' the situation so as to stop the evil, and if Y chose not to do so, I think that would be an immoral act. In order for Y to maintain his 'moral perfection' he would essentially have to micromanage all such situations where he acts as an observer.

    Now if we replace Y with God and follow our assumptions we can see that God because of his omnipresence is the observer of all events. Also his omnipotence grants him the ability to micromanage all situations. Yet we see evil happening all the time. This leads me to believe that one or more of these qualities attributed to him is false or he simply doesn't exist.

    In order for God to reconcile all three of these qualities, he would essentially have to micromanage society.

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  21. I am not sure if these questions works for you Happy but you may get it if you are a parent.

    At what point does "protecting" your child inhibit their maturing as an adult? When does "protecting" them defeat the purpose of parenting? Is it ever a good idea for a parent to let children learn by making mistakes?

    If you can see God as a parent then the idea of micro-managing His children would be analogous to inhibiting their maturing. Of course the example is a flawed one because we imagine that we would always not allow our children to hurt others as they make mistakes.. of course we are only parenting a few kids.

    I guess my reactions to much of what you are saying is that I think that your image of what God should be is that of a divine manipulator of creation.. a God that has created a robotic existence.. a God who is afraid of pain.. a God who is not interested in having a relationship with His creation.. a God who doesn't understand what it is to love. That kind of a deity does not attract me at all. Okay if it does you though.

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  22. Well I am a parent but as you yourself indicated, that is not a good analogy in this context. There are certain things I could never permit my child to do just so he/she can learn some 'lesson' post factum.

    I did not describe my image of what a deity should be. I merely stated three qualities that are attributed to a Christian deity and explained why I think they are logically inconsistent. I simply do not understand how Christians can logically (not emotionally) reconcile those qualities considering the state of the world we live in.

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  23. @Happy - I see no problem reconciling them and, as I have pointed out, I think that life would be a somewhat robotic existence if God were as you described him.

    I still do not understand why you think that the moral failings of man and the natural calamities of earth are a reflection on God just because He does not answer every prayer or prevent every disaster.. that seems to be a somewhat narrow concept to me.. of course I see things through eyes of faith.

    I understand your thinking that pain should not be in the world if God is moral and almighty I just do not share the view that the life is bad just because bad things happen. I think what people do with pain and failure say more about them then when things are going well.

    I am not saying that I desire pain (never wanted my first wife to die).. all I am saying is that I find faith and the Lord to be helpful in dealing with hardship, pain and suffering. I do not blame God for those "bad" things.. they are just a part of life.. I do not declare God to be immoral just because He does not answer my prayers.. just because life is not how I imagine it should be.. regardless of how "logical" it may seem to some.

    Just my thinking.. enjoying the dialog.

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