Rationalizing Earthquakes


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Religious Rationalizations (via):

i. Earthquakes fulfill a higher divine purpose. Pain, suffering, and disorder in the natural world are ultimately part of a larger good plan of cosmic order. (Augustine)

ii. Earthquakes are the result of human sin. God subjected or cursed the natural world to decay and death because of human rebellion. In doing so, God brings about a world where we are no longer comfortable in our present moral autonomy from the Creator.

iii. Earthquakes aren’t evil per se. They are simply a function of the world of time. Only moral evil is truly evil.

iv. Earthquakes are the inevitable by-product of God’s aim of developing souls with moral character. (Hick) There must exist between imperfect, immature humans and the perfect God an “epistemic distance” that makes our growth possible. As such, the world has an imperfect character.

v. Earthquakes are nature’s way of participating in the self-sacrificial life of God (Murphy & Ellis). All of life has a kenotic or cruciform quality to it—some must give their lives that others might live.

vi. Earthquakes exist because nature is imperfect, having been created and being sustained by a God who limits himself to persuasion (process theology). In process thought, the world may resist God at every level, including the natural one.

vii. Earthquakes result from the potential hazards in a world that makes morally significant choices possible. We cannot conceive of a world which would allow for moral evil without natural evil because natural evil is part of an orderly system with consequences (Swinburne, Peterson).

viii. Earthquakes result from the random spontaneity that the natural world must have in order to be a changing system that is separate from God (Polkinghorne).

ix. Earthquakes are the nothingness or non-being that result whenever God creates something and that continues to try and encroach on creation (Barth).

x. Earthquakes are the result of demonic forces who control matter in part and oppose God’s will for creation (Boyd).

Nonreligious Rationalizations:

i. Plate tectonics.

ii. Plate tectonics

iii. Plate tectonics

iv. Plate tectonics

v. Plate tectonics

vi. Plate tectonics

vii. Plate tectonics

viii. Plate tectonics

ix. Plate tectonics

x. Plate tectonics

Of all the plethora of intellectual contortions believers must perform to try to rationalize their faith, the problem of evil–in particular the problem of natural evil–presents perhaps the most salient opportunity for overt straw-grabbing.


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