A quotable Facebook comment (not one of mine) in regards to Haiti and Why does God Allow Natural Disasters?
“Allow”? Funny, as there was a time when theists were certain that their god actually *caused* these so-called “Acts of God”. In more modern times, it seems, this god character passively waits for natural disasters to happen, arriving only afterward to perform a “miracle” by not completely killing a random victim or two. Public relations is all in the timing, apparently.
Now quoting from the BBC article:
Why wouldn’t he have freed the Haitians from slavery himself, or prevented them from being enslaved in the first place? And why, in particular, would he punish today’s Haitians for something their forbears putatively did more than two centuries before?
So what should believers say? To make progress, we might distinguish two kinds of evil:
* the awful things people do, such as murder, and
* the awful things that just happen, such as earthquakes
Sorry, earthquakes aren’t evil. It’s sad and terrible to hear about quakes and aftershocks (can’t imagine how I’d react while experiencing one) but they’re not evil. The earth has no ability to feel an emotion, nor does it have ambition. The earth has no hatred for human beings, nor does it have the capacity to love itself over us. It just does what it does, with no regard for where we are and what we want or expect.
St Augustine, author CS Lewis and others have argued God allows our bad actions since preventing them would undermine our free will, the value of which outweighs its ill effects.
But there’s a counter-argument. Thoroughly good people aren’t robots, so why couldn’t God have created only people like them, people who quite freely live good lives?
However that debate turns out, it’s quite unclear how free will is supposed to explain the other kind of evil – the death and suffering of the victims of natural disasters.
I would think the answer is obvious. All people have to do it stop trying to attribute purpose to those events. Free will has nothing to do with natural events. Why do they happen? Because someone chose to sodomize someone? Because someone else chose to pray to a voodoo doll? Because someone chose to sacrifice a kitten? Hardly.
I have a much better suggestion: move out of the areas where quakes, floods, hurricanes and tidal waves are likely. Then nobody would be at the epicenter or in the path of such destruction. Quit wondering why they kill people. Just get the hell out of their fucking way!
And if you can’t? Maybe figure out better ways to build so stuff won’t fall apart when the earth shakes and waves roll over. Work on better methods for predictions and advanced warning so people aren’t caught unawares. Figure out how to change what needs changing. If that’s still beyond ability and skill, then learn to deal with loss constructively. Assigning blame, creating guilt, and making excuses is not the way to improve matters. That doesn’t help anyone, except those who seek to take advantage of the people who DO think that way.