Tsunami Reactions of Fear, Faith Doubt,
Clerics, Beyond Belief
(Top Posts - Social/Legal - 010305)

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Fear - "Run, the sea is coming!"

God of death?

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Jan. 4, 2005

How Mohan saved his fishing village
http://www.smh.com.au/news/Asia-Tsunami/How-Mohan-saved-
his-fishing-village/2005/01/03/1104601294395.html?oneclick=true

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Excerpts:

...

"Run, the sea is coming!" His cry saved the people
of Puthukuppam, a small Indian village 20 kilometres
outside the former French colony of Pondicherry.
None of the boats survived the December 26 tsunami.
Only a dozen of 60 homes remain standing.

But none of the 300 villagers died.

...

"We cannot go back on the beach," another young
fishermen called Kandhan said. "The sea was god,
today it's Yaman [the god of death]."

...

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Faith Doubt - Tsunami disaster challenges faith

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January 4, 2005

Letters to the Editor
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,59-1424918,00.html
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Excerpts:

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Professor Emeritus Anthony Ralston

Sir, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Comment, "Why
does God allow terrible things to happen to
His people?", January 1) makes as good a
case as can be made that, by setting "life
within the parameters of the physical", God,
in effect, allows disasters such as the tsu-
nami ... to occur. At the same time Dr Sacks
sanctions "prayers for the injured and the
bereaved".

But it is the inconceivability of a God who
both allows cataclysms and listens to indivi-
dual prayers, with no credible evidence that
He does either, that continually swells the
ranks of agnostics and atheists.

...

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From Dr David Ashton

...

If God cares about his creation and is supremely
powerful, then presumably he could have made
the world otherwise.

Moreover, the idea that natural disasters result
from random events in a Universe wholly indiffer-
ent to us is surely less distressing than the idea
that they could have been prevented by a deity
who - for some inexplicable reason - chose
not to act.

Epicurus remains unanswered:

Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?
Then whence comes evil?

...

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Clerics - God's tsunami role has clerics divided

God did it? Opinions on the matter are wide-
ranging, including the following from religious
leaders:

o It's a warning from God, that "judgement is
   coming" (Christian)

o It's God's will (Muslim)

o It's under God's sovereignty but it's nature,
   and God didn't do it, as nature isn't under
   God's sovereignty, or at least, God is un-
   willing to take credit for sending this par-
   ticular tsunami (Christian)

o It's presumptuous to speak for God, these
   days, as that task for eternity was accom-
   plished back when the [so-called] holy
   documents were written (Christian) [the
   'real' ones, not the ones that were just
   pretend, and how one can tell the differ-
   ence, that's mysterious, as tons of so-
   called holy documents were written, as
   God claims were as profuse in ancient
   times as they are today]

o Tragedies, like the tsunami, are part of
   God's plan, and it's the final result that
   counts (Jewish)

o The tsunami was "part of the collective
   karma of the universe, and could be a
   catalyst for peace, harmony and gener-
   osity ... it's, for humans, like someone
   sweeping their driveway is for hundreds
   of ants killed in the process - that kind of
   stuff happens all the time ... it's part of
   the purification of negative karma. It is
   not the karma of those individuals or pun-
   ishment by a super-being." (Buddhist)

---
By Barney Zwartz
Religion Editor
January 4, 2005
http://www.theage.com.au/news/Asia-tsunami/Gods-role-has-
clerics-divided/2005/01/03/1104601296219.html?oneclick=true

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Complete article:

In churches, mosques and temples around Australia,
as worshippers struggle to make sense of the tsunami
disaster in south Asia, their religious leaders have no
glib answers.

But they were divided about God's responsibility yes-
terday, with some seeing it as a divine warning and
others as simply an act of nature.

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Sydney's controversial Anglican Dean, Phillip Jensen,
suggested it was God's warning that judgement was
coming, a view echoed yesterday by Melbourne's
most prominent Muslim leader, Sheikh Fehmi Naji al-
Imam of the Preston mosque.

"We don't understand God's will but we accept it,"
Sheikh Fehmi said.

"Islam says disaster comes from time to time to warn
people and shake them up, make them realise they
have left God too far behind."

Dean Jensen was unavailable yesterday, but South
Sydney Bishop Robert Forsyth amplified his remarks.

"Everything that happens is under the sovereignty of
God, yes. But did God say 'I'll send a tsunami today'?
No. This event, though terrible, is a natural event,"
Bishop Forsyth said.

Melbourne Anglican Archbishop Peter Watson said the
Christian response was to reach out with compassion
and care, but it would be presumptuous to speak for
God. "The prophets of old were able to say 'thus says
the Lord', and their words were put into holy writ - and
they said some unpopular things - but we can't stand
where they stood."

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Rabbi Mordechai Gutnick, president of the Organisation
of Rabbis of Australia, said to question God was to
question with our finite minds His infinite wisdom. "What
we consider tragedies are part of His plan, and the final
result is what counts."

He said when Moses asked God why He allowed the
Jews to suffer in slavery, God replied that He revealed
himself in different ways. "The Jewish people in the
crucible of Egyptian slavery found the basis of what we
now call the Judeo-Christian ethic."

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Buddhist leader Venerable Lama Choedak Rinpoche
also suggested the good might eventually outweigh the
bad.

He said the tsunami was part of the collective karma
of the universe, and could be a catalyst for peace,
harmony and generosity.

"To us it seems very big, but when people sweep their
driveway they kill hundreds of ants without calling it a
tsunami. That kind of suffering and turbulence are hap-
pening all the time, and Buddha's explanation is purifi-
cation of negative karma. It is not the karma of those
individuals or punishment by a super-being."

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Beyond Belief - A human strategy for survival

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January 4, 2005

by Paul Valent
http://www.theage.com.au/news/Opinion/Beyond-belief-a-human-
strategy-for-survival/2005/01/03/1104601291830.html

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Excerpt:

Where was God during the tsunami? Where is God
in Darfur? Where was God in Rwanda? Cambodia?
The Holocaust?

My own religious phase ended when my father, the
only one of nine siblings who survived the Holocaust,
died 12 years later of prolonged, painful cancer.

I then joined the majority of Holocaust survivors who
abandoned belief in God. No believer has been able
to convince me since then of the existence of a just,
benevolent God.

It seems hard to accept the self-evident logic: there
is no benevolent God guiding human affairs. Some
may fear a chaotic amoral universe without God. I do
not believe that the fear is justified. On the contrary,
a scientific view of disasters diminishes their chaos,
and may even give clues to the origins of morality
and religion.

...

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