Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Why does God allow natural disasters?

A burning church in Haiti

At the heart of Haiti's humanitarian crisis is an age old question for many religious people - how can God allow such terrible things to happen? Philosopher David Bain examines the arguments... (full article here)

Thought I'd write a comment on the BBC website to the article above. Am intrigued to see whether they publish it... Will say in the comments shortly!

Natural disasters remind us how little power humanity really has.

The Bible tells us that whilst God does love humanity, humanity doesn't want to live under its creator. It rebels and seeks to serve its own desires, with itself as it's 'own master'. If God is what defines good, for him to be perfectly just and thus judge over the world, he has to punish what is has departed from good. The New Testament says that the Ten Commandments serve not as a benchmark to show us how good we are, but as a means of showing us that no one has fulfilled all that defines someone as good. No person is perfect, living up to God's standards - we've all done things wrong and thus fallen tragically short. When we see the horrors of a natural disaster we see that this is not how the world is meant to be. Not only do they highlight our fallibility, but they show us that actually no matter how hard we try, we can't rule this world separate from God. Jesus said that he came into the world to take the punishment for mankind's rebellion from God, a sacrifice in place of us that took place through his crucifixion. The message of biblical Christianity is too turn back to God from serving ourselves as lords (to repent), and to live lives under God, to the praise of his name, in light of the freedom and restored relationship that he has bought for us.

The book of revelation (final book of the Bible) depicts a kingdom post-judgement. There the relationship between God and humanity has been restored, and as a result natural disasters are no more.