A Logical argument – Is Evil Inevitable by Definition?

There is an anecdotal story about a Jewish man who engages a tailor to make a pair of trousers. After weeks of delay and endless frustration, the man confronts the tail and says, “Even God only took 6 days to make the whole world!” “Yes”, says the tailor, “but just see what a world made in a hurry looks like!”

The Christian tradition asserts God to be wholly different; different not just to man, but to the whole of creation. God exists outside creation and is not a product of it, so there is nothing in it to which He can be compared. We may have analogies to help us partly understand God but in the end he is “wholly other”. When you consider the cosmos, its complexity, size and time span, and the claim that God is in charge, it is just as well that he is truly different, for nothing in the realm of creation would be up to the job.

So, when God created the cosmos that we see with our eyes and telescopes, he was making something “other” than Himself. As such, by definition, there is a profound ontological difference between the entire universe, and God. Creation, by definition, carries with it inescapable imperfection because only God is perfect and the Universe is different from God. Evil, both the possibility of it and the actualisation of it, necessarily arises from this logical but profound difference of being.

Since God is infinite, there is no room for anything else – God has had to enable something other than himself to exist, it is argued. Some element of the tri-unity of God has had to recede, to literally retreat, to vacate the space, in order for creation to exist at all. So creation as we see it is imperfect but profoundly beautiful, where creative forces are allowed to play – the way galaxies and starts get made, the way in which cells divide and a baby is formed. In that creative process, alongside its inherent beauty, there is, from our human perspective an imperfection. It is shaped by finiteness, a tendency to be dependant or contingent on other things, it is mortal and will decay, and its life will be subject to competition, evolution, death and conflict (to a greater or lesser degree).

This difference in Christianity is that this is resolved in eternity. Reality is as we see it, flawed and imperfect. But the message of the gospel is hope –  such times as this will come to an end – sorrow will cease, injustice will not only be ended but will be repaid, sickness will be gone because the inherent imperfection of the current existence will be superseded by something else.

“See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes.Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”       Revelation 21:3-5

The physical order, of which we are undeniably a part, persists as it is in the meantime because it is not God. Because it has been given an inherent creative process, it is alive but finite; nebulae form stars and planets, stars burn fuel, life evolves, and all eventually ends because the imperfection means it is not eternal. This will not satisfy us when grief is consuming us, or when man’s inhumanity to man appears on the television screen. But it is an important thing to understand. Creation is described in Genesis as “good” or very good”. It is very pertinently not described as “perfect”. This may be a good starting point to look at purpose. Is there a redeeming point to the imperfection in the universe?

 

“Give me a God I can Understand!”

We have been considering the question of evil the light of the great theodicy question that confronts the Christian gospel – why does an omnipotent God of eternal love permit the existence of evil?

Christians believe that creation is good, was created good and that evil emerged from it, rather than being part of God’s nature. This is a very important distinguishing feature of Judaism And Christianity, who do not permit the possibility that another god exists, the one responsible for all the bad stuff (a view we call “dualism”). As I have argued, this leaves with a need to look for purpose it the way that God and reality seem to be, warts and all.

This requires us to eventually accept a God of mystery. I was reminded of this listening to a sermon this Sunday about the 10 Commandments and the incident of the Golden Calf. The people of Israel cried out for a God they could understand, a God they could touch, a God they could appease and manipulate in the way that everybody else did. The result was not God at all, but a golden idol, the very opposite of what the commandments contained, literally carried under Moses tired arms as he descended the mountain (Exodus 20 and 21).

The problem of evil illustrates for me that we do not have a God we can fully understand. I have tried to show that we must accept that God created a universe which includes stuff we don’t like, and created or allowed the possibility that evil would emerge from His creation. I will go on to explore why this might be, but without ever pretend that I have the full answer. But I thought I’d like to back up my assertion with something biblical. The Bible contains much that suggests that all reality comes from him, and is sustained and governed by him. The clearest passage I can find is this one from Isaiah, which insists, “I am the Lord, there is no other.”

I am the Lord, and there is no other; besides me there is no god. I arm you, though you do not know me, so that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal* and create woe; I the Lord do all these things.     Isaiah 45:5-7

(* “Weal” =  happiness or prosperity.)

There is a danger that we create a theodicy or an explanation for evil that is nothing more than preference doctrine, that is the sort of thing we want to believe because it avoids questions we would prefer not to ask. On toughquestions.org we are saying that these questions are allowed, and the God we seek is not a simple answer to any of them. More than anyone whoever lived, Job perhaps has justification for asking God, “Why do these things happen ?” After much wrangling God answers in Job 38-40 along these lines :

 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?”    Job 38:1-5

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” is a rhetorical question that actually says, these things are not for you to fully understand. God asks us, will we love Him and trust him, even when we do not understand. So before we embark on addressing the “why” questions, I think we need to accept the fact that reality is that it s and there may be a purpose in it, as opposed to the view that it’s all a ghastly mistake and God is currently operating Plan B.  I would seriously counsel, be heard the God you think you understand and beware the theologies of those that make him just like us. He is not.


 

What we’re exploring here is the particular Christian problem with evil.  By evil we mean the issue of suffering of any kind, not just deliberate human malevolence. By this definition, animals suffer from it, and creation suffers from it. If nothing else, everything, not just humanity, is subject to decay and death, and that is an evil for our purposes.

Christians have a different problem with this to other faiths. Most faiths have similar ethics, and all recognise the difference between good and evil, exhorting the good. But they do not have the same problem explaining it. For example, Buddhists do not have to worry about why an all powerful God of love does not abolish evil, because they have no such concept of God. Even Muslims, who do have such a concept, prefer to live with the tension between evil and God’s goodness, than concede anything on God’s authority, and power. Evil is because God wills it, the explanation is mystery, and not for us to question.

However, for Christians it is a 2000 year old problem. How do we reconcile a God of omnipotence, omniscience, absolute love, and creatio ex nihilo, with the existence of evil. God is able, and should be willing to remove all evil from the world, but clearly doesn’t do so. This has given rise to the emergence of theories of “god defence” which go by the term “theodicy”. A theodicy is an attempt to explain the notion of evil within the definition of God held by Christians. Theodicy itself has been around for a long time, and the two basic types of theodicy emerged from the 2nd century onwards.

1.          Augustine’s is the best known, and has occupied a more central place in Christian theology. He argues that the problem of evil arises purely because of human choice, and is explained by the Fall (Genesis 3), which he sees as the disaster that explains all history. Human beings, Augustine argued, were created as perfect moral agents with the ability to make choices, both for evil as well as for good. They (Adam and Eve) used that freedom wrongly and evil entered the world. Evil was the absence of good, or privatio boni – the absence of good arising from the wrong use of good moral freedom to make bad moral choices.

2.          Irenaeus (AD 130-202) had a theodicy which accepts God’s partial “responsibility” for the emergence of evil. He prefers the view that says human beings were created as imperfect creatures, and the task of life was to bring them to perfection by development and growth, confronting the moral choices of life on Earth. The world is not a “paradise lost” but is as we see it now, with evil and good mixed in, is part of God’s purpose for Irenaeus, who tries to explain it by identifying what is achieved through the process of overcoming evil. Iraneuas can also embrace the concept of natural evil in his theodicy (tsunami, earthquake and disease), which is much more difficult for Augustine or any theodicy based on the Fall. Rather than a fall from perfection, Irenaeus sees Genesis as a more like a deflection, or loss of direction, for humanity. The gap between us and God is caused by us wandering off the pathway, not falling from a height.

Augustine’s explanation will appeal to those who refuse to acknowledge that God has any part in the existence of evil. But it has a serious problem of historicity ; what we think we know of history contradicts it because death and suffering predates mankind (see Bob Eckhard’s blog of September 21, 2017) . Irenaeus, on the other hand, will appeal to those who accept this evidence and would prefer to try and explain evil by redeeming its purpose and embracing its challenge.  As such Irenaeus, despite being lesser known and possibly ignored down the centuries, actually offers us some sense of purpose, and even optimism.


Is God Responsible? God, ex-nihilo, and Evil

Things are not right – inwardly we all feel that. The world is manifestly not a perfect paradise, at least according to our human frame of reference. We would acknowledge that from our point of view, creation is not “perfect” ; some Christians go further and say that it is in fact, “fallen”. Well that’s a subject for another day, but one of the oldest questions in Christianity is the one that asked: “Given that there is evil in the world, is God to blame?”

Christian thinkers have argued this point for early 2000 years. I am going to argue that God has created a universe where evil is possible, so in a logical sense, if not a moral sense, we have to say that God is involved. I hope to explore that this opens up avenues of thinking about life’s challenges which are more, rather than less, helpful.

In our sacred texts (the Bible for Christians), God is believed to have created everything. That means not just that he crafted everything from something, but that he created everything. Without being too profound, it means He created reality itself; there was no reality to make things from before God made reality itself.

The traditional view is known as creation ex nihilo, a Latin phrase meaning “out of nothing”, usually appearing in the context of creation, meaning “creation out of nothing”. It is more central, and more important to most Christians’ concept of God than they realise, despite it not being explicitly stated in the bible. It is impossible to envisage, and impossible to prove – it is not knowledge, it is a belief. Ex nihilo is implied in scripture by Genesis 1:1, appropriately the first verse of the bible, and reaffirmed in the fantastic words of John 1:3:

“He (Jesus) was with God in the beginning. 3 Through Him All things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made.”

Not every Christian thinker has accepted ex nihilo, especially as it is theologically derived from, rather than explicitly stated, in the Bible. However, the alternative view centres on the assertion that God made what we see from pre-existent matter. This means, if true, that the matter of the universe is as eternal as God is and all sort of theological questions then arise. It means that either matter is eternal or that something or someone created the chaos. Creation itself remains unexplained, being the product of something or someone else who failed to finish the job.

That view is convenient (if not attractive) because we could blame evil on that unidentified creator and not on God but the implications are wider than that. We pretty soon end up with God either coexisting with another being (something preceding God or superseding God), or derived from another being, who may or may not have the qualities we associate with “ours”.

Yet if we decide that God cannot have made evil or had any part in it, in an effort to defend God then this is precisely where we end up – ex nihilo is discarded, whether we realise it or not. On the other hand, if we accept ex nihilo as a fundamental basis of Judeo-Christian belief about God and creation then in a sense, God created evil. We can nuance this by saying God created everything therefore He created the possibility, perhaps the probability that evil would emerge.

Our task is not to try and explain that away, but rather accept it as logically inescapable and speculate why. Whether or not we then “blame God” is another matter but we need to start from first principles that at least grant God the supremacy that is claimed in our sacred texts.   That need not be devastating if we keep thinking. We can argue that the way in which the universe works, and the way in humans are made contains something of such value and preciousness, that the emergence or possibility of evil must be worth it. The alternatives might be worse, or there may be a purpose or a reason for all this? I hope to explore that in this series of blogs. Let’s see where we go with it.

In a previous post, I outlined how the Lisbon Earthquake of 1795 rocked the Church’s understanding about God. The rise of enlightenment across Europe with its appeal to a more rational understanding of the Divine, resulted in German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher attempting to reconcile the God found in Nature with a God understood through reason and rationality. The only problem being that in the wake of Lisbon and its 60,000+ deaths, the God who controlled Nature also appeared wanton and destructive.

Voltaire’s ridicule of why Lisbon should be singled out by God when other cities in Europe more notoriously decadent were allowed to survive is a reasonable question to ask. A question which deserves better answers than those provided by believers who have sometimes tried to explain these events in terms of the sovereignty of God, or an issue of faith, or as a Divine mystery. Interestingly, when survivors of the 2004 tsunami were asked to talk about their experience, few of them considered God responsible for the disaster. The reason being that today we live in a secular age where most people do not think such a thing possible or likely of God. However, when people were asked a different question about whether God should have intervened, a good number considered that the Divine was powerless to act in such a situation.

From this, it seems that God is no longer considered the arbiter of natural disasters but rather impotent or not powerful enough to intervene. All of which brings us back to what was hinted at in the first post that whether we like it or not, humans inhabit a world in which nature is at times ‘red in tooth and claw’ (Lord Alfred Tennyson). That said, on the upside, it is also a world in which people are able to make self-determining choices, enabling them to grow and develop with all the risks and challenges this brings.

 

 

 


This strand of the natural disaster argument centres on some people’s belief that suffering is the product of human activity which came about when people decided to rebel against God. The result of this being that the world of humans was changed forever. The thinking goes something like this. Firstly, human rebellion allowed moral evil to come into the world, affecting the way people related with one another (and  God). Secondly, the delicate balance of the physical world was somehow damaged and derailed in this process as the human environment was brought into turmoil.

For many christians who subscribe to this sort of thinking, the turmoil is in the Bible where the present world is likened to a woman labouring in the pains of childbirth, groaning until physical order can be restored (Mark 13v8, Romans 8v22) . Now if such a thing were true, it suggests that the extent of sin is more pervasive than humans presently understand because it affects all kinds of environments. However, in the light of scientific understanding, this also begs the question of whether such a position can be taken seriously or not?

Of course, we know from our experience of natural disasters that these can be caused by human activity within our world. A good example of this is the extended deforestation of Bangladesh which occurred during the 20th century. The extensive flooding of its plains came about because there were no forested valleys left to absorb excessive rainfall higher up in the mountains. A different example is the ‘dust bowl’ which occurred when incorrect farming techniques, combined with storms, turned vast areas of the American and Canadian prairie into desert overnight. Perhaps the most common example that people are aware of today is how industrial development has produced greenhouse gases, currently thought to contribute to the climate change that is melting ice caps and raising temperatures around the world.

Now, although all the disasters I have mentioned are the outcome of human activity, it is questionable whether every phenomenon can be attributed to people in this way. One reason that it is problematic is because scientists date the world’s existence as millions of years before human life began. Given that there is much evidence to support the claim that earthquakes and tsunamis were happening long before human activity, it is not unreasonable to conclude that natural disasters have their origin in something other than human sinfulness. This reasoning is reached by an understanding that if the early development of the world required the movement of tectonic plates to create mountains and valleys, then it is equally likely that occurrences of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis began long before humans were ever around to record these events. All of which means that natural disasters simply cannot be the consequence of human rebellion away from God, because these already occurred at a much earlier date in history.

More notably, English naturalist Charles Darwin, who in his attempts to explain how species adapt and develop in their environments, came across Sir Charles Lyell’s theory of ‘uniformitarianism’. This theory proposed that the world was far older than the date advanced by the Church which had calculated the age by adding together the cumulative years in the genealogy from Adam to Jesus and then an extra 17 centuries after that. Lyell’s theory suggested these biblical calculations were incorrect because the time needed for the weathering and erosion of the landscape to occur (in the rocks he had examined) meant the earth was much older – a planet with an age that should be calculated in millions of years rather than thousands. This theory helped Darwin to begin developing his idea of a much slower and gradual sequence of events in the evolution of species and allowed the sciences to advance independently of the Church. Prior to this, the prevalent view among scholars was that of ‘catastrophism’, which asserted that the earth had changed as a result of violent cataclysmic events which disrupted the regular order of things within it. What Darwin’s model suggested was that change was not sudden but established over lengthy periods of time and in ways that allowed species to adapt and develop in different ways – an idea totally at odds with the global catastrophe described in the Noah account.

So, given that the world and its natural disasters have been in existence far longer than human life and activity, it is not unreasonable to suggest that these phenomena originate from something other than human sinfulness – though clearly not everyone will agree with such a conclusion.

One theological idea forwarded in recent years challenges the biblical notion that humans are introduced into a perfect world. Instead, it suggests that our environment has always been fractured and prone to natural disasters. In his book God at War, Boyd outlines a model in which the origin of evil is explained as happening before the creation of humans, brought about by the decision of God to give freewill to all spiritual beings. The result being that some angels use their freedom to oppose God, corrupting themselves into evil beings resulting in conflict in the heavenly realms. Later, these ‘fallen’ angels become an anti-creational force, standing in opposition to God.

The conflict that follows between God and corrupted angels essentially becomes the battle between good and evil. The result of this is that the world sustains damage in such a way that it no longer exists as an idyll because evil is now resident within it. This outcome requiring the early biblical narrative to be revised in such a way that it is no longer seen as a creation account but rather, ‘God’s restoration of a world damaged by a previous conflict which had become formless, futile empty and engulfed by chaos.’

The restoration theory advanced by Boyd develops the idea that ‘the earth is birthed, as it were as if in an infected incubator [because] it is fashioned in a warfare context [being] altogether good, but made and preserved over and against forces that are perpetually hostile to it’ A context in which humans, as God’s agents, are later called upon to conquer an evil being who has invaded creation. So Boyd sees human suffering as an inevitable consequence of a spiritual battle that is currently taking place and that earth and its inhabitants are located in the midst of this conflict. That said, if I remember it rightly, it does not deny the geological processes by which the earth is fashioned and it’s people are sustained day to day through tectonic movement, hydrological cycle, erosion and deposition  (to name a few of many).

Having considered how tectonic movement and gravity may be factors in natural disasters, let’s turn our attention to the terminology as we ask the question : what is a ‘natural disaster?’ Having considered how tectonic movement and gravity may be factors in natural disasters, let’s turn our attention to the terminology as we ask the question : what is a ‘natural disaster?’

The answer to this is not as obvious it may seem. Yes, while things such as tsunamis, earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes, (etc) go some way to decribing the concrete events that occur in our natural world, the term ‘disaster’  is rather harder to define because of its human-centric emphasis – consider the following:

Although many natural disasters make headline news because they result in death and destruction, it is important to remember that natural phenomena often occur in places that are sparsely populated and in ways that do not result in the loss of human life. Interestingly, when natural phenomena occur in places that are sparsely populated and human death or injury does not result, the term is often not used at all. All of which suggests that what qualifies as a natural disaster is dependent on whether it has caused damage to human existence through, death, injury or destruction of property and livelihood..

For example, a tropical storm or tsunami that destroys an area of coral reef but does no harm to human life or industry is unlikely to be considered a natural disaster or deemed an evil event by a capricious god – even though the destruction of the reef might result in the extinction of many rare species, coral and animal life.

Now, let us imagine that it is a thousand years later. People come and settle in the place where the coral reef once was because it is picturesque and has great potential as a place for tourism. The fact that it is an area at risk of flooding from a tsunami is not considered. After all, as far as the people are aware, it is not prone to these disasters. So, when a tsunami happens twenty years later, this time killing people who now live in the area, the cry is one of an unfair world or uncaring God when really the decision to populate risky areas rested with human decision making. Had the reef area been considered dangerous and left unpopulated there would be no loss of human life when struck again by a tsunami. Moreover, no need to accuse God about his wantonness in creating such a dangerous world for people to inhabit.

The truth is that throughout the centuries, humans have often populated areas which are considered unsafe in terms of natural disasters. Indeed, due to seismic activity or recurring problems, these places are very often considered as accidents waiting to happen and yet development continues – suggesting that human need for an area may outstrip any concerns people  have about a disaster occurring later on. Often, these densely populated places have suffered natural disasters in their past but have since undergone redevelopment with no thought of the consequence should an earthquake occur again. Settlements like those along the San Andreas fault-line and the development of Lisbon and Tokyo, two cities that have experienced earthquakes in the past.

Although many people choose to ignore the possible outcomes of living in an unsafe area for reason of lifestyle choice – by this I mean they have chosen to live there because of its beautiful scenery or economic prospects – the poor and economically disadvantaged may not have such a choice as to where they can live. Consequently, living along a fault line or in an area that is liable to flooding, or in the shadow of a volcano, is often their only option.

In summary,  ‘wrong place, wrong time’ deals with the reasonableness of human responses to natural disasters as they occur. Particularly in regard to people’s failure to recognise that it is often a series of human decisions that have led communities to live, work and sleep in a place that is prone to destructive events. Given the choice, it is reasonable to presume that most people would choose to live in areas that are safe from natural disasters. However, as already noted, people continue to live in places that are prone to earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis (etc)  because they reason the risk of death is minimal and that the benefit outweighs the risk.

 

 

‘As a community on a planet spinning through space at thousands of miles per hour, I am sure we are all grateful for the earth’s gravity that enables us to live, work and play without fear that one day we will…

…jump too high and be carried off into outer space. We are probably also grateful for the way it benefits us in other ways, allowing us to collect fruit from trees, ski and abseil down mountains, canoe in whitewater, freewheel down hills etc – actually, the list is endless.  Indeed, gravity is part of the hydrological cycle that facilitates evaporated moisture returning to earth as droplets of rain rather than disappearing upwards into our atmosphere.

However, there is another aspect to gravity that we sometimes fail to consider. In the same way that gravity facilitates fruit falling from trees, it is also responsible for the roof tile that may fall  and kill the person below because of the gravitational pull acting upon it. Likewise, just as gravity draws water downstream to the watermill, it may on another occasion result in a flash flood which washes away the mill. Indeed, just as gravity keeps people firmly drawn to the earth and allows us to do many things, it may also result in rock slides, avalanches, fallen trees, excessive flooding and other incidents that are detrimental to human existence. But does the occurrence of these events mean that gravity is a bad thing? Or put another way:

‘Would we forfeit gravity rather than run the risk that it might one day cause something detrimental to happen to us?’

Now I am sure that most of us would say that we would not want to do away with gravity (even if that were possible) because we appreciate the benefits far outweigh any disadvantage we may encounter. But what of God in all of this – why doesn’t the Divine intervene and save the man who is standing in the spot in which a boulder will crash and kill him? Well, yes, God could do that. God could intervene whenever a tragedy of gravity was about to occur and save people from a falling object or flash flood. However, in order to achieve this, God would have to intervene in our world at other times and ways that we might not like.

For example, God could intervene and stop people working in a stone quarry because (with foreknowledge) The Divine might know that the excavation will loosen a boulder that will, at a later date, fall and kill someone. However, closing the quarry will cause hardship for the people who are no longer able to make a living because God’s intervention brought a stop to their work and livelihood. Or perhaps God intervenes and stops someone from getting up on the roof of their house to make a repair because He knows the person will fall and injure themselves. But without the accident occuring, the uninjured person might feel aggrieved about the intervention, especially if they are left with a leaky roof and uncertain that events would have turned out that way. Moreover, a strong case might be made that most people do not want to be mollycoddled but would rather take their chances in life. From these examples, what we see is that gravity is basically good though accidents happen. As such, God does not intervene and thwart accidents for to do so would remove from each of us the capacity to grow, learn and be free in our decision making.’

 

On 1st November 1755, the city of Lisbon was rocked by an earthquake. It was All Souls Day and many Christians were at church. The earthquake lasted 4-6 minutes and caused total… 

…devastation, demolishing virtually all of the buildings in the city. Unsurprisingly, it killed between 60,000 and 90,000 people and destroyed valuable works of art. As the majority of people around that day were Christian believers, this group suffered large in the death toll. Those who managed to escape the earthquake and resulting fire took refuge in Lisbon’s less developed sea front area. Here, they did not run the risk of being struck by falling debris or inhaling smoke, but the choice was not a good one. A short time later, several giant tsunamis swept in from the Atlantic killing the majority of those who had escaped the earthquake.

This event, more than any other, shook the foundations of religious faith within Europe because it challenged the conventional understanding about God in the post-Enlightenment era – an understanding that suggested God was best understood through Nature and events in the natural world. If this was the case, then it seemed God was angry and violent towards creation – moreover, God appeared aggressive towards people and their environments, particularly those who believed and worshipped the Divine.

The indiscriminate destruction caused people to question whether God was the great orchestrator of natural disasters. Many questioned why the Divine would carry out His judgement in such a haphazard and unreliable way. In the aftermath of the Lisbon earthquake, many sceptics heaped ridicule on the Church for its unchallenged beliefs about God. French philosopher Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire wrote a poem about the tragedy in which he ridiculed why Lisbon should be singled out by God when other cities in Europe, more notoriously decadent,  were allowed to survive.’ (The God of the Cruel World, sic B. Eckhard)

Today, most people have dismissed the idea that natural disasters come about as a result of God wreaking havoc upon humanity. That said, in some parts of the world, some believers still do hold to the idea of an avenging God. Indeed, our own use of the term ‘Acts of God’ (still on many insurance forms) to explain natural disasters, just shows how deeply ingrained this idea can be. More on this in next post as we work through this series towards a surprising answer about God and natural disasters….

 

Picture – 1755 copper engraving showing Lisbon in flames and a tsunami striking ships in the harbor. (No copyright on picture as this work is in public domain in country of origin)