Argument from natural disasters

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The argument from natural disasters is the claim that natural disasters are not all naturally caused and are therefore caused by God in an attempt to gain our attention. The argument is a variant of the more general argument from suffering.

Natural causes are ruled out: [1]

"Still, anyone with a little age and experience, or any one simply willing to carefully consider matters, finds it a bit hard to believe that what's been occurring of late is merely the natural cycle of things. The succession and intensity of these incidents have rightly caused people to sense something isn't right in the earth, and the scientific data alone can't effectively elucidate the cause."

The explanation for natural disasters is therefore God: [1]

"In other words, God himself didn't hesitate to take the responsibility, saying, "I'm the reason you have experienced this terrible chain of horrific episodes – the storms – the drought – the scorching heat – the crop failures – the winds that blew everything away. I did it! And I did it because I wanted to get your attention about the way you have forgotten me and my business and focused exclusively on your own.""
"God loves us too much to leave us that way without using whatever means necessary to move our gaze from downward to upward."

"Whenever an important event, a revolution, or a calamity turns to the profit of the church, such is always signalised as the Finger of God."

Voltaire

Such claims also occur in Islam. An Iranian cleric, Hojjat ol-eslam Kazem Sediqi, claimed: [2]

"Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes [...] What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam's moral codes"

If true, natural disasters are a form of collective punishment, which is generally considered to be unjust.

Contents

Scriptural precedents

There are several instances of natural disasters caused by God in the Bible.

  • Dought, Haggai 1:9-11 [5]
  • Floods, Genesis 1:17
  • Sinkholes, Numbers 16:31
  • Earthquakes, Exodus 19:18, Matthew 27:51
  • Brimstone and fire, Genesis 19:24
  • Ten plagues of Egypt, Exodus ch.7- ch.11
  • Prophesy of seven disasters, Revelation 16 [6]

The Qur'an describes similar disasters sent by God:

  • The great flood S.7:64 [7]
  • Floods, locusts, lice, frogs and blood plague Egypt. S.7:132-134 [8]

Criticism

Natural processes cause disasters

The processes that cause natural disasters are mostly understood. Their timing is difficult to predict due to the chaotic nature of the processes.

Argument from ignorance

There is no direct evidence that God is involved in natural disasters. Because of the difficulty of explaining disasters, people might assume God was responsible because they had no other explanation. This is an argument from ignorance. As scientific knowledge improves, this basis is a god of the gaps.

Flawed means of communication

The use of disasters as a means of communication does not fit with the idea of a loving God that has more effective means of communication available. Apart from the harm it causes, a disaster is likely to be misinterpreted as a different God or a natural process. A perfect God would use an effective means of communication.

This sadistic form of communication implies God is unworthy of worship.

Natural disasters do not seem to correlate with sin or unbelief

Areas of belief and piety are at least as disaster prone as areas of non-belief or sin. [3] It seems as though God rewards non-belief.

This point was satirised by a series of "Boobquake" events in 2010 that encouraged women to immodestly dress in revealing clothes to test if this resulted in a disaster:

"With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake."

The event resulted in no increase in earthquake activity. [4] The event was jokingly criticised for not having a control group.

A Christian leader who claimed disasters were a punishment from God for homosexuality has his home destroyed by a natural disaster in 2017.[5]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Mark H. Creech, Natural Disasters: Does God Want our Attention?, Christian Post, June 3, 2013 [1]
  2. Iranian cleric blames quakes on promiscuous women, BBC, 20 April 2010 [2]
  3. Jeanet Sinding Bentzen, Origins of Religiousness: The Role of Natural Disasters, Univ. of Copenhagen Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 13-02 [3]
  4. Tinamarie Bernard, Boobquake results: 200,000 women rock the world, not Mother Earth, Examiner, April 27, 2010 [4]
  5. Louisiana floods destroy home of Christian leader who says God sends natural disasters to punish gay people, The Independent, 18 August 2016

See also

External Links


v · d Arguments for the existence of god
Anthropic arguments   Anthropic principle · Natural-law argument
Arguments for belief   Pascal's Wager · Argument from faith · Just hit your knees
Christological arguments   Argument from scriptural miracles · Would someone die for a lie? · Liar, Lunatic or Lord
Cosmological arguments   Argument from aesthetic experience · Argument from contingency · Cosmological argument · Fine-tuning argument · Kalam · Leibniz cosmological argument · Principle of sufficient reason · Unmoved mover · Why is there something rather than nothing?
Majority arguments   Argument from admired religious scientists
Moral arguments   Argument from justice · Divine command theory
Ontological argument   Argument from degree · Argument from desire · Origin of the idea of God
Dogmatic arguments   Argument from divine sense · Argument from uniqueness
Teleological arguments   Argument from design · Banana argument · 747 Junkyard argument · Laminin argument · Argument from natural disasters
Testimonial arguments   Argument from observed miracles · Personal experience · Argument from consciousness · Emotional pleas · Efficacy of prayer
Transcendental arguments   God created numbers · Argument from the meaning of life
Scriptural arguments   Scriptural inerrancy · Scriptural scientific foreknowledge · Scriptural codes
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