Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cause of the Christchurch Earthquake (5) - Act of Nature

A view taking hold among many Christians is that earthquakes are just an act of nature. “The earth is doing what the earth does. Twisting and shaking from time to time”. This view makes me uneasy, for the following reasons.

  1. The act of nature view is very close to the secular world view that is sweeping the western world. Everything that happens on earth is just cause and effect. God is not involved; nor is evil. If pushed to the extreme, this view leads to atheism.

  2. The Living God is squeezed out of his creation and turned into the remote God of Deists. They said that God is like a watchmaker, who created a watch, wound it up and left it running on its own accord. The Deists believed that believed God created the world and left it to function according to cause and effect. God cannot do miracles or intervene to change the situation in the world. He just smiles, and loves us from a distance.

  3. This Act of Nature approach does not reflect the biblical world view. The God of the scriptures is not distant and remote, but is actively involved in the world to answer prayers and accomplish his purposes.

  4. This view implies that earthquakes and other natural events are outside God’s scope of control. This would be true of the various Greek gods, but it is not true of the omnipotent God of the scriptures.

  5. The idea that earthquake is just an act of nature introduces a huge element of luck and chance to life. If someone is harmed by an earthquake, it is just bad luck. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  6. Jesus rebuked the storm.

    He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still” (Mark 4:39)!

    Speaking to an “act of nature” is a pointless waste of time. The storm obeyed Jesus, because there was a presence in the storm that was demonic.

  7. At first glance, the act of nature view seems to absolve God of responsibility for unnecessary suffering, but it still begs the question. It does not explain why God created the world to function this way. There are two possibilities. This first is that he no longer has the power to intervene. That does not seem to be right, given that he created the world. The second possibility is that he has not chosen not to intervene. That leaves him morally responsible.

  8. If God is strong enough to intervene, why did he not intervene to prevent the earthquake from happening? Why did he refuse to protect Christians? Why did God allow the founders of Christchurch build their city on a serious fault line? Why didn’t he lead them to Timaru? Taking nature out of God’s scope does not solve the problem.

  9. In practice, many Christians lurch between different views. After the first earthquake when no one was killed and few were injured, Christians said it was a miracle and gave the credit to God. After the second earthquake, when nearly two hundred were killed, Christians are saying it was just an act of nature. We cannot have it both ways.

An act of nature has not a moral or spiritual event. It is just something that happens.

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