Monday, January 03, 2005

Facing the hard questions

The recent tsunami disaster in Southern Asia raises some very difficult questions for Christians and other religious believers. If God exists and is a loving god then how could he have allowed something like this to happen? The Guardian Unlimited's Martin Kettle asks these very difficult questions in his article How can religious people explain something like this? The question is not new (it has been asked for centuries) but is still relevant and just as difficult to answer. How do we, as Christians, respond to this question? We need to because it has historically been the one question that, perhaps more than any other, led people to reject Christianity and the existence of God. I'd be very interested to hear your responses to Kettle's article and this question. You can click on the Comments link below to add your thoughts. You can remain anonymous if you wish.

1 comment:

  1. I'm an atheist, but I've thought and read enough about the problem of evil that I can come up with some ways to explain it.

    The main thing would be that death, assuming an afterlife in heaven, isn't a horrible event; from there the answer depends on how interventionist you believe God is.

    On the high end you might consider it to be one of the more visible parts of God's plan to bring about the maximum amount of good in the long term. (Eg. had it not been for this act, nuclear war might have occured.) Further down the scale and it could be seen as an attempt to bring people back to the faith or as an act against (largely) non-believers. If you think God uses a minimal amount of intervention, then you may see it as a simply a consequence of living on the coast.

    Only the extremes are palatable to me. More interventionist views are contrary to the idea of free will but less intervention raises doubts about omnibenevolence. From my point of view the minimal intervention explanation makes the most sense: God creates the universe, let's it play out on its own and then brings people to heaven when they die and to avoid simply being deism, you can say that God also wanted to give us a push in the right direction. I would think however, that most religious people would believe the "God's plan" version, for the cynical reason that it would be more comforting.