Friday, January 07, 2005

Tsunami : Where was GOD?

The recent Tsunami in Indonesia – killing more than 150,000
people (and still counting) and causing massive destruction in
that region – again brings to the attention of the world
the age-old question:

If there is a “God”, and if He is Just as well as Almighty,
how could this have happened? Where is GOD???

This Blog entry won't presume to offer an answer.
I would, though, like to offer up some thoughts and musings:

Did GOD cause this to happen?
Either God ACTIVELY caused this terrible disaster, or He
PASSIVELY allowed it to happen (assuming, of course, that
you believe God exists at all, and that He could have
prevented it if He chose to...).

If He did cause the disaster (that is to say, He did it),
it would not be too hard to conclude He is an evil, vindictive,
and horrible Power. If He did not directly cause it to happen,
then He obviously did allow it to happen.

Why? How COULD He? How could He allow the senseless
and random mass destruction of human life, and the
subsequent horror of the disease-ravaged aftermath?

Are those lives MEANINGLESS? A person is born, grows
to be a teenager, and then, one day while walking down the
sidewalk in a coastal town in Thailand, a great wall of water
crashes down on him and destroys him? Was that Life
– that PERSON – created only to be destroyed in some
twisted, "Great Cosmic Drama" of God’s design??

For that matter, is it FAIR that every single person born is
– according to the creeds of Christianity – “born into sin”, and
“a sinner from birth”? I’m “guilty” before I’ve ever even
DONE anything, subject to God's eternal Wrath for rejecting
a Person I've never met, who paid a Debt (of Sin) I didn't
know I had?? This is FAIR??

Comparative Possibilities
The following sentence combinations are offered just as
a way of sparking Thinking along these lines...

A. God MAKES every event in this world happen, directly
CAUSING all events
B. God only ALLOWS every event in this world to happen

A. God INTERVENES in the physical world, altering the
outcomes of given events
B. God does NOT intervene in the physical world; He lets it
“run its course”

A. Man has, to a great degree, the FREEDOM to CHOOSE
how events will go
B. Man does NOT have true Freedom; God, or “the gods”
determine everything that happens; Men are merely pieces
on some "Great Cosmic Chessboard"

A. God gives Men the “dignity of Causality” (Pascal) in the
events of this world
B. God works toward INFLUENCING the CHOICES of Men

A. Natural Disasters happen because SIN “broke” the Universe
and set it on a crash course for inevitable destruction
B. Natural Disasters happen randomly, without purpose
or meaning, and are just cold, impersonal Facts about the
nature of the physical Universe that must be accepted

A. God works to “woo” humans to CHOOSE Him while they can
B. Satan works to convince humans that they can make their
OWN Destiny (and that all this “religion” talk is nonsense,
espoused only by the weak-minded among us)

One Possible Answer: The Crashing Bus
Imagine a bus full of people going over the edge of a cliff, a
burning mass of twisted metal, plunging toward the inevitable
CRASH in the ravine far below…

That is the post-Original-Sin Creation we live in, and
God works to rescue as many from the bus as He can… as will
accept His offer of Salvation of their own free will… tragically,
most of the passengers are in complete DENIAL of the
condition and fate of the bus…

Death, disease, murders, rapes, natural disasters…
These things are all part of the destruction-in-progress
condition of the Crashing Bus, and while God obviously
“allows” it, He did not CAUSE it to be that way, and is working
feverishly to save as many passengers as He can who
– again – respond to His call with their Free Will…

His objective is NOT to save the BUS, but the people inside it…

The Big Question: FAIRNESS
For me, the PROBLEM OF PAIN comes down to
a question of FAIRNESS:

Is it FAIR to, say, a 1-yr-old Girl that her filthy uncle
rapes her? Is it FAIR to a 4-yr-old Boy in Sri Lanka that his
life ends by being crushed by a wall of water? Aren’t THOSE
souls – far too young to have committed any “sins” and
not at all justifiably culpable for anyone else’s – of any WORTH
to God? Were THOSE Souls brought into existence merely
to play “bit” parts in God’s tragic "Great Cosmic Drama"???

Perhaps part of the ANSWER comes down to a limitation
on our understanding of “FAIR”. GOD understands things
and perfectly. GOD is, in the last analysis,
ALL-Powerful and ALL-Wise and ALL-Knowing; we do not
know what He knows, nor can we see what He can see.

SURE, it seems UNFAIR to us in the here-and-now; but part
of what makes God God is that He is SO far above us in His
understanding and SO much more broad in His perspective...

TRUST IN THIS: In the END (the REAL end, the
End of All Things), GOD Himself will have set everything right;
EVERYTHING will – in the end – be precisely as it “ought” to be…
will be made “Fair”… and/or, our concept of “Fairness” will
have been made perfect, and we will SEE things much
the same way God does (though not completely, of course)...

Is this really so hard to understand?

Picture this: My two kids come into the living room and see
dozens of Christmas presents. After all are handed out,
one child notices that the other not only received “MORE”
presents, but that the other’s presents were “BIGGER”.

The child begins to make complaints along the lines of
“FAIRNESS”. But only the parents understand “Value”;
only THEY know that the child complaining about “Fairness”
actually received not only the very thing they so desperately
wished for, but also the presents of far greater VALUE, while
the child with the “most” presents actually received less,
in terms of “Value” (and perhaps not exactly what they wanted…
maybe Wal-Mart had no more left…).

The complaining child has only a child’s perspective on
“Value”, and the invocation of “Fairness” was made imperfectly
and without all the necessary Data… the parents patiently try
to explain things from the more mature perspective…

Perhaps it’s that way with God: IF we begin with a bedrock
of His immutable character – All-Wise, All-Knowing, All-Powerful,
and Everywhere-Present – it is not too difficult to stop
demanding “Fairness” and to simply, with His grace,
do TWO things in response to horrible Tragedies:

Fall on our knees and worship the Almighty
Reach out in Love and suffer with/serve the Needy