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Old 01-09-2005, 12:20 AM   #1
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God and disasters

I really don't know how to start this and I hate to have to bring it up. It probably will be a touchy subject as it is between myself and my good friend who does not believe in God.

I do believe and have faith in God. I attempt to know what I believe, but this reminds me that I just don't have all the answers.

I'm just going to put it out there. I bring up the age old question, how can one believe in a God that allows things such as September 11, or now the tsunami, or Nazi Germany, or AIDS! Does God allow for this to happen? Is there a reason for it all? Or is God just a cruel asshole as my friend/housemate says? Should we even Question God?
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Old 01-09-2005, 09:31 AM   #2
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I will give my answer although it may sound simplistic. I believe very strongly in a God who created the earth and everything in it and then gave it free will. That includes humans as well as nature. The world runs according to laws like gravity and whatnot, but I don't see that God runs every little thing in it. Thus, my belief system would have room both for mass murderers as well as natural disasters. God doesn't cause them. but God doesn't step in and mess with them either. Because for "free will" to work it has to work both ways. We have to be free to make good choices as well as bad ones. And unfortunately our choices affect others. As for nature, it acts disregarding humans. It doesn't try to hurt us but doesn't go out of it's way to spare us either.

I struggled a lot with the question of "is God good" and for me actually the idea of God having a light hand instead of planning and predestining everything makes faith much more plausible. I for one cannot fathom a God who ordains horrible things and mass murders and that we are just supposed to smile and shrug and worship. But a God that loves us enough to give us liberty, even though that liberty has the potential to be abused...this I can and do believe. And I also believe that it hurts God to see us suffer. That he is not up there smiling but that it breaks his heart to see things go wrong. When we talk about "the Fall" in the garden of Eden, that applied not only to humankind but also to creation. We are living in a cracked clay pot, so to speak. It doesn't work as intended...it is being redeemed, but we are not there yet. So, I see all aspects of life as having the possibility of redemption and that hope lies in the belief that in the future, not only will humans be redeemed, but creation will also be perfect and we will no longer hurt one another.

Hope that made sense. It is not an easy question and there is no simple answers.
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Old 01-13-2005, 03:47 PM   #3
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A geologically and meteorogically dead Earth would turn us into Mars--a dead, dry planet. No volcanoes or earthquakes would mean we'd erode into a flat ball--or, more realistically, the surface would be all ocean and no land. Natural disasters have a reason for existing, even if they do nothing more than cause us misery. Hopefully, it will be another 165 years before we see another 9.0 earthquake/tsunami in the Indian Ocean (the last one was in 1840).

Rather than dwell on September 11th, we should be thankful that we have had only one major attack on mainland U.S. soil since...the Civil War. Forgetting internal conflicts like the Civil War, the last foreign attack was probably the War of 1812. Other nations are far less fortunate and are currently mired in multi-decade conflicts (i.e., Columbia, Israel, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan). It is unfortunate that September 11th happened at all (don't get me wrong), but it is helpful to look at the perspective.

Nazi Germany is most certainly unfortunate, although "mass genocide" is a hallmark of world history. We can try to be hopeful that Nazi Germany will be the last instance of mass genocide (although places like Uganda and Sudan have had to deal with this more recently).

AIDS? Again, unfortunate, but we should be thankful that we no longer have to deal with diseases like smallpox: highly contagious, airborne, and you'd end up either highly disfigured or dead. There has been a lot of progress in solving AIDS, and, overall, a lot less misery than smallpox wreaked onto the rest of the world for millennia. Or polio, even.

To put it simplistically, I would say that the generations before us had a right to say that God "is a cruel asshole." On the contrary, our modern civilization is probably the most peaceful and the luckiest we've ever known. We're really mostly victims of groups that just thrive on fear and intimidation as a method of control, whether that be the media scaring people into buying things, the pharmaceuticals scaring people into buying prescriptions, or religious denominations scaring people into contributing to the collection plate.

All we have to fear is fear itself, and if we are able to keep the present in the perspective of the past, then we can realize how truly lucky we are, after all.

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Old 01-14-2005, 07:25 PM   #4
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Right, I agree with these posts. And thanks for responding.

I guess the root of this problem comes from a friend of mine. He is the one who calls God a wicked and cruel God. I think in your posts you hit on something that will probably be the bain of my argument against him. My friend is looking for any reason not to believe in a good God. Therefore to get him to listen to "the fall" or look at the positives in the world instead of the negatives of these situations will almost be impossible. Which is why I am so frustrated...

Oh well, I'll just try to continue to shine His light in me.
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Old 01-15-2005, 01:34 AM   #5
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Well, if you believe in God, you can look at it this way:
From God's perspective maybe He saw this as a wonderful gift.... taking all those souls up to Him at once.
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Old 01-17-2005, 08:58 AM   #6
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Melon -

nice post

btw, do you believe in God
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Old 02-07-2005, 08:54 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by AcrobatMan
Melon -

nice post

btw, do you believe in God
I never got a chance to follow up to this thread (it was moved from "Goal Is Soul" in January and I was banned from FYM at the time).

I do believe in God. But I also believe that science reveals the true nature of God, so I am very much interested in the workings of science.

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Old 02-08-2005, 04:06 AM   #8
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Life is everything as we know it.

We can't speculate as to whether it is a good or a bad thing that a disaster happened. It is something that happened. And a bad one cause it took our life.

If God is omniscient and omnipotent, than what an arsehole.

Life and our beating heart is everything and the most important posession we have. If it goes, we can only speculate if there is something other than life that is better than life itself. Does God take us to this other place?

An afterlife perhaps? - Maybe but there is zilch proof.

If I could communicate to God (not that I am a believer) after "he" takes my life, I would be pissed off because he wouldve kidnapped me from my family and freinds and everything I cherished on Earth.

But if you don't want to accept God as the villain than here is what is the cause for:

Nazi Germany - Greed, Selfishness and cruelty
September 11 - Anti-Americanism
Tsunami - Natural causes
AIDS - Human ignorance and natural causes

Take it or leave it.
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Old 02-08-2005, 07:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by intedomine
But if you don't want to accept God as the villain than here is what is the cause for:

Nazi Germany - Greed, Selfishness and cruelty
September 11 - Anti-Americanism
Tsunami - Natural causes
AIDS - Human ignorance and natural causes

Take it or leave it.
If you think God is an "arsehole" for those things, if you lived hundreds or thousands of years ago, you'd probably think he was a bigger one. Smallpox was a severe global problem for centuries that either killed you or left you severely disfigured. Thankfully, the disease is eradicated. On top of it, the bubonic plague periodically ravaged Europe for hundreds of years. Interestingly enough, it is theorized that the plague resulted in a lot of people questioning Christianity, which led to the Reformation. Nowadays? The bubonic plague is rare and treatable with antibiotics. AIDS, frankly, is quite tame compared to these former global scourges.

Secondly, Europe was pretty much embroiled in incessant wars from the Roman era up through World War II. War was not generally seen as a last resort, but, rather, several kings would just start wars for the hell of it. WWII did not come out of a vacuum; it was the culmination of centuries of hate.

Sure, post WWII, we plunge into the Cold War, but for the first time in centuries, Europe is not embroiled in incessant wars. Post-Cold War, life is not perfect (as it never will be), but Europe is very stable and very peaceful, and the Cold War sparked heavy investment into technology--including the Internet. We can wish that WWII never happened, but life would be dramatically different. Without "an enemy," would even a fraction of the technology we take for granted today even exist?

My point is that things don't happen the way we want them to. On the contrary, we have too much free will, and we must observe the results of our actions, both good and bad. I guess I put religion under a lot of scrutiny, because for an institution that should be on the side of good, I find it is often ripe for every human vice: hate, greed, and power. Of course, I also see God as outside religion. God deserves better.

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Old 02-08-2005, 07:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by intedomine
Life is everything as we know it.

We can't speculate as to whether it is a good or a bad thing that a disaster happened. It is something that happened. And a bad one cause it took our life.

If God is omniscient and omnipotent, than what an arsehole.

Life and our beating heart is everything and the most important posession we have. If it goes, we can only speculate if there is something other than life that is better than life itself. Does God take us to this other place?

An afterlife perhaps? - Maybe but there is zilch proof.

If I could communicate to God (not that I am a believer) after "he" takes my life, I would be pissed off because he wouldve kidnapped me from my family and freinds and everything I cherished on Earth.

But if you don't want to accept God as the villain than here is what is the cause for:

Nazi Germany - Greed, Selfishness and cruelty
September 11 - Anti-Americanism
Tsunami - Natural causes
AIDS - Human ignorance and natural causes

Take it or leave it.
It is human failure that the holocaust happened, that 9/11 happened, that there was no warning system implemented in the indian Ocean despite recommendations that one was needed, and last I checked we humans have yet to find a cure for any viral - borne diseases.

It's convenient to blame God for human failings isn't it ? It's not like he's going to personally respond in this forum after all.

It's not about what he "allows" or doesn't allow, it's about our ability to do the right thing. Maybe if we (as a world population, not just the US) spent he same amount of money on AIDS research as we do in military spending we might get somewhere ? Just a thought.
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Old 02-08-2005, 07:38 AM   #11
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I previously posted this in my journal regarding this topic:

Where is God in Natural Disasters?

Over 120,000 dead in the tsunami. Unprecendented deaths. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” But with terrifying upheavals in nature, what should we do as Christians?

Our first response should be worship. When Job lost his 10 children to a windstorm, he did not know the prologue of his book’ he didn’t know that Satan and God had had a dialogue and that he had been singled out for a special trial. Without explanation to Job, a natural disaster wiped out his children. With 10 fresh graves on the side of a hill, he faced a choice and he chose worship. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job. 1:20).

God controls nature. Can He be trusted? Yes, for unless He does, we would be subject to the whims of impersonal fate. If the devil creates tornadoes and tsunamis without God’s approval, I could die in a disaster before my appointed time. But if weather is in His control, then I rest with the confidence that my life is ordered according to His will and plan. If nature is out of God’s hands, then my life is also out of his hands.

If God is indeed sovereign (including controlling weather, we can have confidence that “all things work together for good”. We do not believe in fate, but in a specific purpose ordained by an all-wise God. Natural disasters might drive some people away from God; for others they have the opposite effect – they drive us toward Him because they remind us of what is temporary and what is permanent.

When the earth shakes under your feet, we duck under doorways. But ultimately we must flee into the arms of the only One Who is able to shelter us. No matter how many things move in this world, we can always find solid ground in the consolations of the Almighty. We are reminded that all things pass away and only what is eternal abides.
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Old 02-08-2005, 07:54 AM   #12
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I don't think Satan creates tornadoes. It's our fault for living on a continent that mixes cool air from the Rocky Mountains with warm air from the Gulf of Mexico.

If Satan created tornadoes, I would think they would appear in more random places defying scientific laws.

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Old 02-08-2005, 08:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
I previously posted this in my journal regarding this topic:

Where is God in Natural Disasters?

Over 120,000 dead in the tsunami. Unprecendented deaths. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” But with terrifying upheavals in nature, what should we do as Christians?

Our first response should be worship. When Job lost his 10 children to a windstorm, he did not know the prologue of his book’ he didn’t know that Satan and God had had a dialogue and that he had been singled out for a special trial. Without explanation to Job, a natural disaster wiped out his children. With 10 fresh graves on the side of a hill, he faced a choice and he chose worship. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job. 1:20).

God controls nature. Can He be trusted? Yes, for unless He does, we would be subject to the whims of impersonal fate. If the devil creates tornadoes and tsunamis without God’s approval, I could die in a disaster before my appointed time. But if weather is in His control, then I rest with the confidence that my life is ordered according to His will and plan. If nature is out of God’s hands, then my life is also out of his hands.

If God is indeed sovereign (including controlling weather, we can have confidence that “all things work together for good”. We do not believe in fate, but in a specific purpose ordained by an all-wise God. Natural disasters might drive some people away from God; for others they have the opposite effect – they drive us toward Him because they remind us of what is temporary and what is permanent.

When the earth shakes under your feet, we duck under doorways. But ultimately we must flee into the arms of the only One Who is able to shelter us. No matter how many things move in this world, we can always find solid ground in the consolations of the Almighty. We are reminded that all things pass away and only what is eternal abides.

while i respect where this is coming from, it reminds me again of how far i am from this kind of religiosity.

and it also seems to be a kind of thinking that could only arise from people like ourselves who are so far from the horrors of actual natural disasters like the tsunami. the response should be worship? i've asked this before in a very similar thread -- what the fuck kind of God would willfully kill 10 children? let alone allow 200,000 be washed out to sea?

i don't think this has to negate the existence of a God, but in the face of such horrors, i think to argue that all these things are a part of God's Plan makes me not want any part of this God.

"all things work out for the good"?!?!?! please, go to Indonesia and reassure the folks of this. i'm sure they'd love to hear an American tell them that, really, it's for the best.

what i can accept, is the end of your argument -- that what is "real" isn't, and that what is spirit is what is real. that this flesh, these mountains, that ocean, will one day be gone, and that only the soul remains. that might be what deserves worship, and how religion can be a source of comfort and solace to those desperately in need right now.

but to say that God caused the Tsunami because he ultimately controls nature and he knows best and it is not ours to question ... i reject that God.

with passion.
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Old 02-14-2005, 06:53 PM   #14
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I think that this is a really hard subject... and as us being humans I don't think we will every fully understand the ways of God... especially when it comes to tragedies... in Isiah 55:8 its says his ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts... but we can somewhat understand that ways of the Lord still...

Through out the bible there has been many examples I think where the Lord would Judge nations with natural disasters... like in Egypt when he used the plagues... and it was because of what they did to the Israelites... And it was because of a sowing and reaping factor... the Egyptians sowed pain and sorrow to the Isrealites and the reaped Pain and sorrow... I have just heard recently from a man in australia that just prior to the Tsunami there were many christian meetings being held in Indonesia and some men had came into the meeting of mostly young people and starting killing people with Knifes... from what I have heard there has been much persecution to christians throughout those areas where the Tsunami hit...

I am not sure if that was only by chance... or what... let me know what you guys think....
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Old 02-15-2005, 09:19 AM   #15
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Having lived most of my life in Indonesia, I am afraid I would have to say that it's pretty much bullshit. Sure there has always been tension between Christians and Muslims and there has been persecution practiced on both sides. But following that logic, what about the Sudan? Rwanda? The Congo? There are plenty of human atrocities that go unavenged by nature. Besides, another problem with such logic, imho, would be that the tsunami is indiscriminate. It would kill the persecuted and the persecutors alike. How is that a fair punishment?

No, I cannot accept that a just God has any hand in these sorts of natural disasters.
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