Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Do Natural Disasters Like Katrina Prove There is No God?

I have been trying to figure out why God created the hurricanes that devastated the gulf coast, the tsunami in Asia & allowed the devastation that occurred in N.Y. in his name on 9/11. Why did god murder all those innocent people? What could have gotten him so pissed off to commit genocide? Has he been talking to Hitler or Idi Amin again?

I do not believe in God, but I do believe man has the potential to be God-like in his kindness & generosity. After all, god was created in man's image. Perhaps that is why god is evil!!

Hi Al,

I want to respond to your comments and hopefully provide some clarity on the issue. Basically, you've written that you don't believe in the existence of God and one proof you offer is the fact that God "created the hurricanes that devastated the gulf coast, the tsunami in Asia & allowed the devastation that occurred in N.Y. in his name on 9/11".

First, I think it is important to recognize that there are two different categories of events we're discussing - evils that stem from men's actions (i.e. 9/11) and evils that are a result of events beyond human control, such as hurricanes. The former types of evil are known as volitional evil or moral evil and can include events that were not directly perpetrated by a human being but were the ultimate result of his actions. A baby born with a birth defect as a result of toxic dumping by a company may be a good example.

Separating Natural Evil from Moral Evil

Moral evil is ultimately always caused by a person or group of persons who chose to act in a certain way. Therefore choice is a big part of the issue. In order to blame God for these type of evils, you are left with two possibilities - either God needs to remove man's free will so he cannot choose to commit evil or God must judge a person for wrong doing before he commits the evil act. But, by eliminating free will isn't God actually perpetrating a greater evil to humanity? I mean, would you want to be reduced to a puppet whose every action is controlled by another? Is that a better state than how you live now? To blame God for the evil acts of men assumes that you would rather have God remove all of your free will and control your every action so that it may be guaranteed that no evil exists in the world. But to remove your freedom to choose would be a grosser evil than anything else.

You may say, "Well, God could judge those who are committing such evil acts. He could choose to wipe them out before they did anything heinous." Perhaps He could do so, but a loving God is not obligated to do so. In fact, if a holy God were to judge all evil in the world, there would be no one left! We have all deviated from God's perfect laws, so we all qualify for immediate judgment. But what of those very evil people who later repent and do incredible good for humanity later in life? Could it be that the good they do could outweigh the evil done before? If that is even possibly true, then there is no contradiction in God allowing such people to continue to exist - even if we don't see or don't understand why they were not judged.

Now, one may counter, "Alright, human evil perhaps cannot be blamed on God. However, what about natural evil such as hurricanes? Surely God can control that without imposing on anyone's free will." Well, not necessarily. You see, the Bible says that natural evil is a result of man's original choice to sin, that all of creation was changed as a result of Adam's fall. There are some good reasons for this. For example, natural events that cause suffering can befall anyone. Therefore, people are more inclined to have empathy for those who are afflicted since they realize that they too could be in such a state one day.

Another reason is that it keeps us from feeling invincible. Many people have reexamined their poorly lived lives when facing death or suffering and turned their lives around. Understanding our own mortality causes us to look at our desires and see how hollow materialism and worldly success can be. Indeed, parents use the pain of punishment to instruct their children on right and wrong and how to act properly. Other areas that some may classify as evil, such as sexually transmitted diseases, can act as a deterrent to unbridled immorality.

Ultimately, one of God's purposes is to draw all men to Himself. Natural disasters display man's incapacity to be in control and force people to think about. Again if it is even possible that disasters and natural evils can serve God's purpose in this capacity - if a greater good can be accomplished - then it doesn't follow that because evil exists there can be no God.

Assuming a Moral Standard Assumes There is a God

Ultimately, though, when you think about it, your question actually falls apart on itself. You assume there is a moral right and wrong by claiming God "murdered" others or committed genocide. That means that there must be some objective standard of right and wrong to measure actions like murder and genocide against. But an objective moral standard can only come from a being who has authority to set that standard for all of humanity - in other words a being whose authority over mankind is absolute. That would mean there is a God. A God must exist in order to establish some type of moral standard. But if a God must exist o establish that things like murder and genocide are wrong, then how can you claim these prove there is no God?

If we are just some evolutionary accident, then things like right and wrong don't really exist - they are just made-up rules we use to stop people from doing things we don't like. You would not be able to say that murder is wrong because it is murder. You would be forced to say something like "a whole bunch of us agree that we don't like the idea of murder, therefore we're going to call it wrong. However, if we all change our minds, then it will be O.K. at that point."

Let me give you an example of this. Say that you are an astronomer who is about to witness a once in a lifetime event. Halley's Comet is going to pass by the earth closer than ever before. As you begin to observe the phenomena, you're struck by the beauty of the comet's tail. The colors are splendid. Just as the comet comes into focus, you see a small meteor approaching the comet's path with tremendous speed. The two collide, shattering the comet into a million pieces. My question is this: can you classify the meteor as being wrong by breaking up the comet?

I think we can agree that using moral terms like "right" and "wrong" to classify such an event is absurd. The thing just happened - it was a random event with no moral meaning behind it. If our existence is also a random event, then there is no moral meaning behind our lives. Therefore, there can be no right or wrong in our continuing to exist. But you don't believe that. You believe that human lives have value and there is an objective standard that says we shouldn't take another's life arbitrarily. You say so in your question. To hold to such a view and to say there is no God is a contradiction - you can't have both.

I hope this discussion has shed a little more light on the concept of God and evil. Please let me know your thoughts.

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