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Old 09-09-2005, 05:49 PM   #1
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Religion and Natural Disasters.

I might regret ever asking this question, but I've been wondering about it for a few days now so I thought I'd ask for some input from my fellow FYM posters.

So my question is basically how do those of you who believe in God explain natural disasters like the one unfolding in New Orleans right now? I guess the reason this doesn't make sense to me is that I've often heard people saying that they believe God created the universe and controls the universe in which case wouldn't God have the power to create or prevent natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes and such? And if so, then how can it make sense that God would allow such horrible disasters when I always hear people saying that God loves people, loves the world etc.

You see, I can almost accept people's claim that other horrible events like bomb attacks or shootings happen because God gave people free will which means they can choose to act in evil ways - eg by setting off bombs or shooting people. But how can that argument in any way explain a natural disaster like a hurricane? I know some will argue that human actions can make a natural disaster more likely (ie global warming could increase the risk of flooding) but there are plenty of cases where that doesn't apply, for instance last year's tsunami or the huge earthquake in Iran in 2003.

So, yes, any explanations or even just random thoughts on this subject would be appreciated. And please don't make fun of me for how inarticulate this post is -- as you all know I can talk all day about politics, but on the subject of religion I am utterly clueless (but curious). So be nice, please.
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Old 09-09-2005, 06:02 PM   #2
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Same thing with cancer and so on I guess. I remember a priest coming over to dinner one night at our house and a neighbor that came to visit asked him why he believed bad things happen to good people. His response was something I will never forget: Because God loves us.

I know, sounds totally wrong. But think of it this way -- you never know how important love is until you have your heart broken, you never know how good it is to have money unless you have none, and one I can vouch for as being totally true, you never know how lucky you are to be healthy until you go through months of being sick.

I know that may sound a bit trite, but I also know there were alot of us who hugged our families a little tighter after 9/11 and appreciated our food and water a little more after the hurricane.

It's a love of extremes and there are definitely people that will disagree. After all, do you really need thousands of people to die to enjoy a glass of water a little more? But in the end, it's a comforting thought that through all each of us has been through, through all the pain others have been through, we keep going and putting oxygen in our lungs.

After all, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
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Old 09-09-2005, 06:20 PM   #3
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there are so many stories in the bible about these types of disasters being
retribution, or the lord's punishment on sinners.

many religious people look at N O Mardi Gras as a modern day "Sodom and Gomorrah"

what if someone found the writings of someone like a pat robertson a few hundred years from now
how is the katrina story much different than
Sodom and Gomorrah?

which if it did perish, was probably destroyed by an earthquake

Sodom and Gommorah 2005
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Old 09-09-2005, 06:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by deep


many religious people look at N O Mardi Gras as a modern day "Sodom and Gomorrah"

Ever since this happen I've actually been waiting for some nutjob to come out and say this, I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet.
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Old 09-09-2005, 06:32 PM   #5
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we had a very interesting thread about this post-tsunami.
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Old 09-09-2005, 06:32 PM   #6
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do you ever wonder

if Sodom and Gomorrah

got a bad rap?


perhaps they just suffered a natural disaster?
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Old 09-09-2005, 06:32 PM   #7
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Like sharky said, some good came out of the hurricane. It's united Americans and the global community when there was all sorts of discord going on. But I get confused by natural disasters, too. It's hard for me to understand why God lets certain things happen, like disease. Thanks for your post Fizz!
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Old 09-09-2005, 06:34 PM   #8
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Re: Religion and Natural Disasters.

Quote:
Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees
I might regret ever asking this question,
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Old 09-09-2005, 06:52 PM   #9
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I don't know if you were looking for a Christian perspective, but here it is:

Over a million people die each decade in natural disasters. 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 09-09-2005, 06:53 PM   #10
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total depravity works for me
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Old 09-09-2005, 07:01 PM   #11
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"So, yes, any explanations or even just random thoughts on this subject would be appreciated. And please don't make fun of me for how inarticulate this post is -- as you all know I can talk all day about politics, but on the subject of religion I am utterly clueless (but curious). So be nice, please."


I believe:

-God created this party

-We did wrong and threw the party into a sinning spin

-This includes the earth (all creation) suffered

-God came here as a human being

-Spoke a few words above loving each other and
the Kingdom of God

-We killed him

-Question, questions,questions...


What have done today to help?

Who have helped?

What kind words have we said?

What food have we given away?


Blaming God is easy,

Seeing ourselves is often, not very pretty.
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Old 09-09-2005, 07:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
I don't know if you were looking for a Christian perspective, but here it is:

Over a million people die each decade in natural disasters. 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.


as logical as this is, i can't help but wonder about a god -- if we are to believe that, ultimately, god controls tornadoes and tsunamis and hurricanes -- who would do this to his children.

seems cruel, spiteful, as if he enjoys torturing his children as an elderly woman in new orleans climbs up another flight of stairs to her attic as the water rises, she's terrified, the water rises further, she can't get out to the roof, its up to her chest, her neck, she knows she's going to drown and then she breathes her first breath of putrid, filthy water that fills her lungs and she screams underwater but the screaming only makes her lungs fill with more water because she's trapped and then it burns and she's terrified and wondering how this could have happened.

the same things for children crushed by buildings in an earthquake, swallowed by the ocean in a tsunami, and so on and so forth. i don't see how, in a moment of violent, undeserved, random death caused by natural elements that god, as we understand him, could be present in that moment and the cause of that moment and the author of that moment. why would he do this to you? how is this for the best?

this is where faith falls utterly apart for me. i can't place my trust in someone or something who would essentially cause a horrible and horrific death to the most vulnerable in society, to those which, it could probably be argued, he has given least.

as i said during the tsunami, and i'll say it again now, i would denounce such a god who would demand such displays of faith in the face of such senseless death that he himself has caused. what an awful, cruel, spiteful test of faith. a test that would, by my definitions, strip said god of worthiness of worship.

that said, this affirms my faith in the essential existential state of the human condition. it's not that there's no god, necessarily, it's that there's no god unless we choose to believe that there is one. there is no divine force at play or behind or beneath all the tragedy (and triumph) in the world. it simply IS, and how we deal with it is what matters, and it's through the recognition of those who suffer as our brothers and sisters, no matter their color of skin or ethnicty or geographic location, that we then affirm the fact that we are all connected to each other and all come from the same place, for if i am human, and a human drowns in a tsunami or is crushed in an earthquake, then i must be able to know that human's pain and suffering and do all i can do prevent that because whenever anyone suffers, i suffer to, since we are all endowed the the same capacity to feel pain (and joy) because we all come from that place which is not here, but which might exist beyond here.

and i might call that God. i'm not sure.

but i'm not a Christian, in the sense that FW was asking, but i responded anyway.

oh well.
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Old 09-09-2005, 07:13 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by sharky
I know, sounds totally wrong. But think of it this way -- you never know how important love is until you have your heart broken, you never know how good it is to have money unless you have none, and one I can vouch for as being totally true, you never know how lucky you are to be healthy until you go through months of being sick.
That's interesting, I'd never really thought of it that way before. But again, I guess it makes me question what people mean when they talk about a "loving God" because if God is willing to take away people's family or friends or home in order to make them appreciate what they have, I don't really see that as love in the way it's typically defined. I don't know though, maybe it's just a different way of defining love.

Thanks for your post though, that's given me something to think about.
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Old 09-09-2005, 07:14 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
we had a very interesting thread about this post-tsunami.
Thanks, I just looked it up and I'll read it properly tomorrow when I have some more time online.
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Old 09-09-2005, 07:21 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by the iron horse
Blaming God is easy,

Seeing ourselves is often, not very pretty.
Well I wasn't trying to blame God. I don't even know that I believe in God. I just wanted to understand how those who do believe in God can rationalise or explain natural disasters especially when they claim that God controls everything and that God loves His people.

Quote:
-God created this party

-We did wrong and threw the party into a sinning spin

-This includes the earth (all creation) suffered
But all the human wrongdoing in the world can't cause earthquakes or tsunamis or volcanic eruptions. If you don't believe in God or don't believe that God controls nature then you just attribute those things to nature, but if you do believe in a God who controls nature then how do you account for them? Or are you saying that human wrongdoing causes natural disasters and if that is what you're saying can you explain how that works.
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