Sunday, October 14, 2007

Is God responsible for natural disasters?

The other day I complained that I hadn't written about religious topics in a while. I guess God was thinking the same thing, because the very next day who should show up at my door but a pair of Jehovah Witnesses. Of course, it was slightly awkward, as I actually went to high school with one of them. I think at that point we both realized nothing productive would happen, as we'd played out a lot of arguments and discussions years ago. Granted, we were both high school kids then, so our ability to debate has probably improved, but there's no changing history.

In any case, the ladies wanted to discuss with me whether or not God was responsible for natural disasters, especially because some people argue that events like hurricane Katrina were God's judgment upon those people.

Reading their literature, there isn't much to the discussion they added. I agree with them that many of the fatalities that can result from natural disasters are the fault of people, not God. There was plenty of warning that Katrina would be incoming, and yet there was still a failure, both personal and governmental, in evacuating the city. Humans were responsible for levies and maintenance, not God. Humans neglect to enforce building codes or move to areas with high risk weather (tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.).

Still, there is some room for God in this. Nothing happens without his permission in this world. So he at least allows natural disasters to occur. Why is this? Is it judgment upon people?

I think it is next to impossible to find answers when we look at any of God's actions and ask, "Why?" Sometimes this is because we may never be able to understand God's perspective on the matter. Sometimes things only become clear in hindsight, and that could take years or even centuries to become apparent. Sometimes there might be so many consequences of an event that it is impossible to consider everything that happened and all of the events which follow as a result.

In the end, nothing really new. But then, the conclusion to the JW article was answerless as well, so I don't feel so bad on the matter.

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