Tuesday, 18 January 2005

Tsunami apologetics

The discussion has been broad and deep over the problems surrounding God and the tsunami.
I've previously described the cluster of issues called 'the problem of evil' as the hardest question in the world.
Most people feel (or even think) that the existence of evil in the world casts serious suspicion on God's existence.
I'm working on some material on natural disasters for the Case magazine, but here's a question I'd appreciate responses to:
What aspect of God is called into question by evil? Is it his love? His power? His justice?
I'm interested in specific answers.


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9 comments:

Adam said...

I think its the issue of power...

Greg Clarke said...

Thanks, Adam. Do you mean that God it causes people to question whether God is all-powerful?

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg - the old question.

From my Mum's experience (her faith took a hit when her Mum died young from cancer), I expect it shook her idea of `trust'. `How can this God who promises such good to me, allow this to happen??' Note, that this comes with a presuppositon of a loving God, who is in control, but then calls into question God's trustworthyness as the executer of such powerful love. `What will he do to me??' Reflecting on this, then, would then go towards undermining an idea of a loving God (for the love from a capricious God isn't the kind of love I'm after..). I'm not sure if I've answered the `existence' question, rather than some kind of God's character question. But I expect, as with many people, once the crown slips on our understanding of God, then we quickly don't want to be his friend, followed further by not acknowledging him at all...

Anonymous said...

sorry. forgot to put who I am -- Simon A. (for the above)

Greg Clarke said...

Thanks for that, Simon. God's expression of love does seem very different to ours. Either our understanding is inadequate, or (if our understanding is adequate) the quality in God can't be called love. The concept of trust seems to come into believing the former (that our understanding of the love of God is inadequate).

Anonymous said...

[Simon] Yes, I agree.. why do I love someone? versus, why does God love someone? is there a difference?? Sometimes they aren't all that different, I guess, even in what appears `evil' -- as my wife would say, it is all about intentions... killing a fallen, lame chick in the backyard when a kid (at my father's urging) was a fairly abrupt way of learning about the surprising paths that love can take you down. I'm not suggesting that God likewise uses suffering solely in this way (though we can read the judgement on us all (death) as a loving `end' on our suffering in a fallen world), rather, we always ought work harder at working out the intentions in things.. both small and large. God's intentions, if really the sovereign loving ruler of all, are right.

Greg Clarke said...

I'm not sure we can see God's intentions, unless he tells us. For that reason, our faith is in his power and divine all-seeing nature (as in Romans 1:20) but his plans are hard to fathom (as in Ecclesiastes 3:11).

/Karen/ said...

“What aspect of God is called into question by evil? Is it his love? His power? His justice?”

I think it's his goodness. How can God be good if he allows such things to happen? It must mean that he loves disaster, death and destruction. Therefore he cannot possibly be good.

C.S. Lewis then steps in to point out that our idea of “good” is probably heaps different to God's idea of “good”.

Adam said...

Apologies Greg, for answering you so flippantly and then not coming back to elaborate on my point.

I said power originally (as a gut feeling), but since then I've done a bit of a water-cooler survey with workmates who are not Christians.

An intriguing result: - on a 'micro' (personal?) scale, people question God's love (or, perhaps as Karen mentioned, his goodness) eg, miscarriage, when a loved-one dies, people seem to question his love/goodness.

But on a 'macro' level, ie disasters, 9/11, Tsunami etc, people seem to question his power more - ie, God is basically good, bad stuff happens, therefore God must be power-less to stop the bad things. hmmm. Interesting, isn't it...