Friday, March 25, 2011

Faith Fridays: Natural Disasters

Originally, I wasn't going to write a post about the earthquake in Japan.
It's a devastating natural disaster, one that has destroyed countless lives as well as critically injured Japan's economy.  It will take years for that beautiful, interesting country to completely recover.
I wasn't going to write about it because, honestly, no words of mine can do justice to the situation or to the pain and devastation being felt by the Japanese.
So, what exactly changed my mind?
Some fairly obtuse statements made by certain individuals in the Christian community that have been circulated via Facebook status updates.  Quite frankly, they pissed me off.  Yes, there will be a bit of personal ranting in this are warned.  I'm not going to go into every statement in the linked articles that made me say, "Wait, now WHAT?!" but I am going to deal with they two that seem to be the most pervasive.

The first statement that royally pissed me off is that "natural disasters are the result of the Fall and the sinful nature of this world."  Now, this isn't the first time I've heard this.  Someone tried to tell me this back in high school as well, and even at fourteen I realized something didn't quite add up.  Why?
Well, let's start at the beginning.  The beginning of what?  Everything.
(Earth rise over the Moon, photographed by Apollo 17) 
If you adhere to Christian theology (or several others), God created the world.  According to Genesis (and common sense) the Earth came into existence before mankind.  Looking back at my 8th grade science education, the world is divided into four parts--the crust, the mantle, the outer core and the inner core.  Furthermore, the crust is divided into tectonic plates.  These plates rest on the semi-molten mantle and sort of float around on it.  Because there is motion involved, there is friction where the plates meet--also known as fault lines.  Depending on the type of fault, the friction can cause mountains, valleys--or earthquakes.

Seeing as many of Earth's mountains and valleys were formed prior to human existence, I think it's pretty safe to say that earthquakes--and thus tsunamis as well--were also taking place before human existence.
Having established that, how in the heck can you say that natural disasters are a consequence of human sin?!?  That's pretty dadgum arrogant if you ask me.  The earth simply continues to operate the way it always has, and since humans live on the crust--and live at fault line sites--we have to deal with the consequences.  This goes for weather patterns and those of us living in hurricane pathways as well.

A second statement that has been irritating me concerns all of the "prophecies" that show that we are living close to or in the "end times"--many of which point to the recent natural disasters as hallmarks of the beginning of the end.  I'm not about to get into whether or not I believe that there are current, legitimate prophets in the world today--that's a whole can of worms that I'm not about to open in this post.

However, I am going to point out that everything that is happening in the world now has happened before--to name a few, economic collapse (hello Roman empire), wars (take your pick!), and climate change (yes, humans have lived through it before).  This list also includes natural disasters.  In ancient times there were plenty--two of the most famous being Vesuvius erupting and Atlantis flooding (yes, I think there was a real Atlantis and recent archaeological findings back me up on that).  Anyone who has taken a World History class knows all of that.  Another sticking point from the theological side is the statement made by Jesus that no one, not even He, knows when the end will come--only God the Father possesses that knowledge.  What that tells me is that whatever the current guesses of today's "prophets" are--yeah, they're wrong.

Anyway, I understand that natural disasters and the suffering they cause are hard to wrap our minds around when we believe in a loving God.  I just wish that people would actually use the brains God gave them to think through what they're about to say before issuing any grand pronouncements on why God "did" this or "let it happen" or, in regards to natural disasters, how humanity "brought this on themselves".

Here's the link to the AmericanRed Cross Donation Page in case you can/want to donate to the Japan Earthquake fund, or any of the other funds listed:


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