Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Radiation and the Human Condition

Who is REALLY in charge?

Recent events in Japan have had a trickle-down (well, more like a flood-down) effect on the entire world.
Physically, economically and psychologically we have all likely felt some ominous potential results from what nature and man have combined to produce.
It appears that man can utilize nature, but fails when it comes to controlling it. We obviously can get energy out of the nucleus, but what about all the residue? What do we do with that? We can measure earthquakes, but can we survive them. We can issue a tsunami warning, yet still have all our earthly possesions washed away.
Simple question; who always wins?
Or is it that simple?


  1. The truth is that God always wins. The battle between man and nature is a different question, though. Yes, humankind has the ability to utilize nature, almost to its liking. However, nature 'fights' back with sometimes devastating consequences. I think the lapse here is the fall. God gave man the power to subdue the earth. However, man's desire for ultimate knowledge took over, and we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That set in motion the endless quest of understanding this mysterious world created by the infinite God. And so, we have no idea, nor any capacity, to control nature. God alone holds that wisdom.
    The thing that has always bothered me is man's quick judgment of nature as 'disaster.' I understand that natural occurrences (such as tsunamis, eruptions, earthquakes) have disastrous effects. But the events themselves are not disasters. If people weren't here, we wouldn't call them natural disasters. Same goes if an hurricane stays out in the ocean and doesn't come onto land. It's not called a disaster, just a hurricane.
    So here's my question. Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." So God's creation is evidence before all men, yet so many refuse to see or even credit a Creator. But when a so-called 'disaster' hits, they point the finger at a god they never before believed in. 'How could a loving God do this to his people?' they ask. But this isn't our planet anymore. We broke that communion. Who are we to question the nature of this earth? These natural occurrences would happen even if we weren't here. So in essence, these occurrences are necessary for this planet to continue serving as a perfect home to us. We don't have the right to point the finger at God. And we have lost the right to control nature.
    So it's no longer a simple question. Humanity has its days, and nature has its days. We could have won, but we messed that up. Now, all we can do is surrender to God, realizing that he is the only one who can bring us back to that place of perfect harmony between us and him. And that's the day we've won.

    1. Alex, I agree with most of what you have said, however, I would say that we have not lost the right to control nature. God gave the Earth to Adam and Eve. He made Man the master of the earth and the animals and that plants etc. The animals didn't go to God to get their names, they went to Adam. God made Man the steward of the earth to do with as he chose. And while he might not know how to control nature that doesn't mean he has lost that right.

      Man was given the resources and capability to build and transform and so of course he is devastated when all that hard work goes down the drain. But you have to wonder, just for a moment, if nature had a voice, would it call all our cutting down its trees and burning fossil fuels and oil spills disasters? Man does not only build and transform, but he also destroys and engages in conflict. And from the moment Adam and Eve tasted the Apple this was so. And God wasn't clueless, He's omniscient, so he knew and He still gave the Earth to Man (even if He did make Eden off limits).

  2. Alex brings up a good point with the verse from Romans. If we are without excuse for not noticing how God has revealed himself through creation, then why do we have such a hard time with it? We tend to acknowledge God when disasters happen. We want him to fix our situation, but when things are going fine we don't praise him for it. The problem isn't that God doesn't show up, because according to scripture he is always there. The problem is that we are too focused on things of little importance that distract us from noticing our creator.

  3. In the battle of man versus nature, nature or God is always going to win. Because God is behind it all, He is the ultimate power over our lives in every way. I always think about how I am so lucky to simply be alive and breathing each day, God has the power to do anything to this world, yet each day He has allowed us to keep living. Natural disasters are a way of waking the world up, showing us that God is still in control and reminding us that life on earth is for but a moment. When death is not surrounding us on a regular basis, sometimes we ignore that it even exists. However, natural disasters display the truth behind all of life...that it ends. As unfortunate as it may be for places like Japan and other countries recently suffering from natural disasters, there are daily disasters happening everywhere else around the world. An instance like an earthquake may be one huge blowout of deaths in a specific area, but people struggling from impoverish situations worldwide face that same death everyday. It is not merely the occasional disasters that we need to be focused on to make us think about our lives in relation to death, it is about the daily disasters happening externally around the world and internally within ourselves.

  4. As Lauren said before, God is complete control of nature and does not cause these disasters to happen because he is not a loving God, but because he needs to remind people that there are many things that we cannot control such as nature. We can have warnings and be prepared for a disaster but we cannot control the earthquake or the tsunami itself. People tend to be arrogant and think that everything is in their control when truly we have no control over life or death or nature. This pertains to all people whether they believe in God or not. People tend to remember God when something terrible happens and use Him as someone to blame, when God did not create the “natural disaster” to destroy us, but to remind us He is there. God created the Heavens and the Earth and created the natural phenomenon’s that like Alex said, would happen to a desert island or a heavily populated city. If we say a 23-foot wave coming toward us and hit the shore and no one was hurt or nothing was lost we would think that it was a sight to see, it is when lives and property are lost when that awe becomes a disaster. I know that when I hear about these occurrences, I am sad for the lives and property lost, but I also give thanks to God for the safety of my friends and family. These occurrences serve as a reminder to me how fast our lives can be over if God wills it.

  5. It seems pretty obvious that no one always wins. In fact, to put it in those terms seems to have lost the day (to ironically use the same language). If it is always a dichotomy and you either win or lose how is a person supposed to go on when their life happens to consistently fall--no matter what they do--on the "losing" side. Life would no longer be worth it at that point. BUT, their life was framed by a story that said such "losing" is not the end all be all, then they would be enabled to go on. That story, I propose, is the story of God. More specifically, the story of God as revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

  6. I don't know if this is biblical but I think of it this way. Whos is the king of this world? Satan. I believe Satan does have powers bestowed upon him from God, he usually uses it to create terror and havoc on the earth. Therefore it is not a matter of God creating a natural disaster, but rather Satan. I think we overlook how powerful the devil really is. He is almost as powerful as God because that is how God created Him. He was second to God. Sin and the Devil our God's only enemies. Because natural disasters are evil in a sense that they destroy the earth and the people dwelling in it, wouldnt the cause of evil be evil? Again, just thoughts..

  7. I don’t think nature vs. humans is necessarily a matter of winning or losing but rather coexisting. I feel that as the world progresses and gets more advanced people feel like we should have more control over things, we should be able to prevent things, we should be able to have a say so but in reality why do we deserve that? Why should we be able to play God and say earthquakes go away, or natural disasters go away? We destroy the earth and don’t respect it like it should be why should we have the power to control it? We are so undeserving of that and it is impossible to play God because he is bigger than us all. I feel that instead of trying to control the world and what goes on in it we should live our lives loving, serving, and following God who hears our prayers and cries. He knows we all stumble at one point or another yet he never leaves us. We are all sinners and undeserving of Gods gracious love, yet we receive it. God has given us so much yet we still want more, we don’t deserve Gods power and frankly I don’t think we would be able to handle it. It is a tragedy what happened in Japan and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone but the reality is we cant do anything to prevent it so we just need to help in the areas we can and pray for guidance and help in the areas we cant.

    ~Vanessa Irizarry~

  8. Jesse Cook asked the question “Who is the king of this world?” and responded by saying “Satan”. I do not agree with this at all. I understand Jesse’s points because I feel some things on the earth are of Satan however I feel that God is still the King of the earth and rules over Satan. If God was not in charge I feel we would not be able to overcome tragic events and overcome the evil that Satan produces in the world. Jesse also stated that God didn’t create the natural disaster Satan did and I don’t really agree with this either. I feel that God created the earth and all its abilities, he created us, and he created us and he did it giving us the ability of free will, the earth is included in that. God knows what will happen but he gave everyone and everything the ability to respond. The last thing Jesse talks about is that people forget how powerful Satan really is. I do agree with this because I feel that people underestimate him and over estimate their own strength. Along with this I feel like people forget how powerful God is and forget that they need God in every way. We are only human and cannot survive or overcome Satan’s evil without God and his glory.

    ~Vanessa Irizarry~

  9. In response to Alex McKay's posting.
    The idea of what 'disaster' means to the world is so profound! There is such truth in your words, though I challenge the idea with the Christian who experiences disaster. You commented on those who do not believe in a creator but accuses a God they don't believe in when something bad happens. What about those who do believe in God. Those who try to live righteously and obey and love him, do they deserve this disaster upon them?
    I would pose two questions:
    1) Why do bad things happen to good people?
    2) Why do we (as Americans, APU, individually etc.)complain of our 'disasters' when they not only do not compare to what happens in this world but also contradicts this "total surrender" you speak of?
    just a thought.

  10. I liked the answer that Lauren Elliot said, she said that God is always in control. I think it is important to remember that God is in control of everything even though some times it doesn't seem like it. I'm not really sure of the stance i have on natural disasters. The questions many ask is, why do these things happen and many people die if God can just snap his fingers and have it all stop. The most important thing for me to remember is that God is in control of everything, and he makes the decisions on everything and all though we might not know why he dose what he does or why things happen, in the end all things that happen are in order to further the kingdom of god. Lauren also says that she thanks god for everyday she is alive and is so lucky that she is alive and praises him everyday for that, and i believe that in the instance something better comes along to further the kingdom of God it will happen, even if it means 100's of people dying in a natural disaster.

  11. In response to Jesse Cook's posting.
    I wanted to post a comment on a certain ideology that Jesse uses: "wouldn't the cause of evil be evil?"
    Although I believe that evil can manifest itself within evil, I also believe that because of our sin, we, as Christians, do evil too. Romans 7:18 says "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." This is Paul speaking, one of the greatest Apostles in Biblical history, and he claims that he, one of the best, is not good. Our sin means death and evil and it is through God's grace that we are saved, not by works, so we are not allowed to boast about that, and (Romans 3:23, 6:23). While we are being saved by grace, we still do evil due to constant sinful nature.
    A documentary entitled "Lord save us from your followers" talks about how Christians can do more evil against God himself than non-Christians. It's a wonder how God still loves us despite this fact.

  12. I agree with what Jesse said. All to often we tend to put the blame on God when something goes wrong. We forget that we have an enemy who is very real. If we truly believe the Bible we know who is going to win in the end. However, it can seem like Satan is winning a lot of battles here on earth, but we cannot see the big picture. We don't know how the disaster in Japan is going to fit into God's plan. The great thing about it is though is that we don't have to! I have faith that God can use even the most terrible of disasters to bring him glory.

  13. Jeremiah MasopustApril 8, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    I am responding to Vanessa's comment regarding Jesse's post of Satan not being the ruler of this world. Scripture is clear where it says in 2 Corinthians 4:4, "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." In other translations, the "god" is replaced with Satan. God allows Satan to do what he pleases on Earth. However, examples of Satan's limitations are where in Job, Satan had to go to God and request permission to tempt and persecute God's servant Job in hope that he would deter Job away from God.

    Now pertaining to who wins in the end... In 2 Corinthians 4 passage, it goes on to explain that we as Christians are "afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." I feel that in regards to the recent natural disaster, Satan will feel like he is winning in this world. No doubt, disasters like the Japan quake and tsunami was a massive victory for Satan in gaining souls for himself and causing people to abandon their belief in the all-benevolent and all-powerful being, God. I mean, if God is all-loving, then why would he allow suffering? (I am not going to open that can of worms)

    On the other hand, the 2 Corinthians verses explain how as Christians, we have been empowered through Christ defeat of Satan on the cross and how we are hard-pressed, but not defeated. Times like this do and will continue to look bleak. Scripture never tells us that life will be easy here on Earth. But what it does tell us is that there is a solution for the suffering. A life lived in dedication to following what Jesus talks about and a life built on the hope that Jesus conquered the "ruler of this world" is our ticket out of here. God wins in the end. I see it as this: Satan may win battles here on Earth, but Christ has already won the war. The war is of eternal life and death and since eternal life is available to "whosoever believes in Him," (John 3:16) it is now a decision that every person must make.

  14. In regards to the question who always wins, I believe that God, at the end of the day, will always remain the victor. History shows this over and over again. Humans are constantly trying to control everything including nature only to be completely overpowered. Looking back to a specific (and somewhat random) example of the titanic, we see this exemplified. Man built this massive ship that they claimed "even God himself could not destroy" and what happened? God, by the means of an iceberg, took the ship completely down. Man will never be able to control anything in this world, natural disasters continue to prove that point. All that we as Christians can do is continue to believe in God and know that he is in control and has a plan, even in the dark times.

  15. This is in response to M.A's question which is "Why do bad things happen to good people?" This used to be a question that I also had until I read something by C.S. Lewis. Unfortunately, I can not recall the exact book that it was in. Basically, Lewis said that if there was no bad in the world or if there was no bad that happened to good people, then there would be no reason for them to turn to Him for anything and ultimately they would feel no need for Him. However, when bad things happen to good people, they will turn to God and ask for help or guidance or simply a listening ear. Whatever it may be and as bad as it may sound, bad actually perpetuates a relationship with God. Also, what kind of God would be serving if bad stuff only happens to "bad" people. God allows sin to take hold of the world because humans messed up the perfect world that existed before sin. Bad stuff and sin does not only happen to bad people.

  16. Though many have already responded to Alex's original comment, I too found it compelling. When reading his comment I began to think back to the idea of original sin and the repercussions it has on our lives today. Recently a friend in my anthropology class emailed me an article addressing some of these ideas, and though I have yet to read it in it's entirety, a portion I turned to has a great deal to do with the fall and its relation to natural phenomena. Bare with me because this quote may seem lenghty,lofty or far fetched, but it is definitely intriguing...

    "Our theodicy, as we have so far stated it, entails that at one time - before the Fall - our ancestors lived in a world without evil. This, I suppose, entails that they were not subject to the baleful effects of earthquakes and tornadoes. But why not? Well, for the purposes of perfunctory treatment of the problem of natural evil, we need assume only that there was some reason for this, a reason that became inoperative when our ancestors separated themselves from God. We might suppose, for example, that the old tradition (it is without Biblical warrant) that Adam and Eve possessed "preternatural powers" is substantially correct, and that these powers included certain cognitive powers; we might suppose that our unfallen ancestors knew (and pretty far in advance) whether an earthquake or tornado would strike a particular spot-and when. And we might suppose that their being able to know such things depended on their union with God and was lost as a natural consequence of their separating themselves from God."
    - Peter Van Inwagen

    This is only a small portion of a fascinating article dealing with human nature. Though I may not fully comprehend his above reasoning, I think this author has a valid point relating to our relationship with God. Before the fall who knows what "powers" Adam and Eve may have obtained based upon their right relationship, whole relationship, sinless relationship with the Creator. Might they have had knowledge of natural wonders, not yet named "disasters" and known how to avoid them?

    Once again, who really knows? It comes full circle to the previous thread of comments. Ultimately God is control, He is King of this world and universe and it isn't in our hand to play the cards of the divine. Possibly in the past we had that right, being in perfect union with God. But due to the actions of our ancestors, we are prone towards sin, unable to fully comprehend the things that happen around us, but able to make the free choice to follow the creator who has the cosmos in line...

  17. It is very interesting that Jesse brought up Satan's power. It is something I dont think much about, yet it is true. Satan has all the power that God left upon him to create disaster, yet I am not sure if it is him behind the natural disasters in this world. It is definitely something interesting to think about, is God trying to wake us up and get our attention or is it Satan just showing off?

  18. I like Alison's point of view where she states that God always wins because in my humble opinion i believe the same. As fallen men and women, we can fight nature and maybe come to control it in some areas; however, I feel God always wins though because he has a plan. Somehow physical disasters like what happened to Japan fit into His plan. Its hard to believe that God can allow something so devastating to occur. I mean when you look at each death which resulted from the tsunami as a living breathing individual it becomes even more profound that God allows such things to happen. God does however has a plan and in a fallen world its difficult to say what His plan is. However, it is not our place to try to analyze and figure out God's plan, but instead it is more important, i believe, to ask what can i DO within Gods plan. How can we use elements of His nature for good. How can we use the tsunami for a positive? These are difficult question; however, I feel these types of questions lead to positive outcomes. God's plan always wins; but the question we must ask is what is our part in being a reflection of Him within His plan?

  19. I have a question that I would greatly like to have other's opinions are. I have a feeling I know what most others will answer, but I am curious nonetheless. When a disaster happens, we love to say that it is in God's plan and that there is a reason for it. We do the same when a death happens. The words, "It's in God's plan" or "God has a reason for it" usually comes out at some point. My question is why we have to say this? Why does every bad thing also need to be in God's plan. Perhaps I believe this because I am the type of person who believes that God is not constantly active in the world like he was in the Old Testament. But I digress. To go along with the same kind of thing is prayer. When something happens that we prayed for, we say that it was God answering our prayer, but when something we prayed for does not happen, we like to say that it is just not part of God's plan. Why do we feel this need to stick up for God. Perhaps it is because we feel the need to have God in our lives and in the world and this gives us a constant way for it to happen or perhaps it always gives a reason for explaining when bad things happen. What does everyone else think?

  20. Jordan Lemos,
    I believe the quote that you were looking for came from Mere Christianity:

    "If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata - of creatures that worked like machines - would hardly be worth creating...." (48).

  21. This is in response to the beginning question of "is someone always right?" Is God omnipotent? Yes. Could God completely destroy all evil? Yes. Will He do that at this point in time? No, not until He has decided that it is time for a new heaven and new earth. Until that point, there will be a fight over this earth by the forces of good and evil or Satan and God. Because this is the case then there is not an "always" winning. So, will someone always win at this point in the world? I would say no.

  22. I completely agree with Vanessa's comment that when it comes to both
    nature and humanity, it is not a matter of winning or losing, but
    rather one of coexisting. When God created the universe, man was given
    control and power over nature, yet we lost that power due to the fall
    -- now it's about learning to live with nature rather than over it.
    Just as we have free will, nature does too: I don't believe that God
    causes these natural disasters we are discussing, however, He does
    allow them. Why? It's all a part of the life we as humans damned
    ourselves to live due to our blatant disobedience in the first place
    in the Garden of Eden.
    Jesse brings up a very interesting point with the introduction of
    Satan into the discussion. Although I do believe that we often
    overlook Satan's powers and abilities, I do not believe he causes
    these disasters (like I previously stated, I believe they are a
    natural part of life here on earth) however, I do believe that he uses
    them for his benefit by placing doubts about God and His power into
    our heads -- it is from him that questions such as "how could God do
    this to those He loves?" or "does God even exist?" arise. Satan's goal
    is to convince humanity that God isn't all He's cracked up to be, to
    cause us to doubt God's power and love for us to the point where we
    stop believing in Him at all. Telling by most human response to events
    such as these disasters and the doubts that arise so quickly, I think
    it's safe to say that Satan's been doing work.

    One response to these disasters that bothers me somewhat is the
    conclusion that God causes these disasters in order to remind us of
    how much we need Him and thus uses them to get us to love and turn to
    Him. To me, that makes God sound selfish and power-hungry, in a way.
    God loves us because He created us and that love is unconditional.
    Yes, He wants us to learn to love Him back, but He doesn't need us to
    and He definitely isn't interested in forcing us to. Love that stems
    from fear is not genuine love; love of God that stems from tsunamis
    and earthquakes, due to fear, is not the kind of love that God wants
    from us. God does not use these natural disasters to gain love and
    respect that He never needed in the first place; God wants us to love
    Him because we want to -- that was the whole reason He gave us free
    will: so that those who love Him love Him by choice, not out of fear

  23. As much as I would love to fall into the Christian stereotype and say "God is in control" I will refrain from doing so. It is not that my theology is in question, for I do believe that God has ultimate sovereignty, but I would like to divert from that for a moment.

    Due to man's sinfulness, ultimately leading to a sinful nature,I believe that it could be a fault of our own.
    A few verses to think about:

    Romans 7:18 "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out."
    Romans 8:3 "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man"

    Romans 8:5-7 "For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God"

    This can only be opinion, for what can man know compared to God?
    Romans 1:22 "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools"
    I Corinthians 1:20 "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"
    In short, I really don't know, and I would be foolish to think I did. But I believe that God has control over our sinful nature, regardless of what destruction we may bring on ourselves.

  24. i think the question isn't quiet who always wins, but who is losing. This world is a fallen world. It has been ever since Adam and Eve first ate the fruit. In return we get to suffer the consequences of a sinner, who we really are. Yes we deserve it. But does God really want to hurt his children? I don't think so. Some people believe that the recent occurrences are God's doing because of a sinful nation, but God is merciful. I believe the recent devastations are due to the broken world we live in. No one wins in a Broken world.

  25. This question really isn't a simple one because I do not think there is a competition. There has to be some measure of balance in life and I believe this is where God comes into play because He would not give us something that we couldn't handle. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and though, most of the time, we do not understand the reasoning behind events such as the recent earthquakes in Japan, these events are still a part of God's plan and this is why we have to trust that everything will work out because that trust will be rooted in Him. He gave us the capabilities to deal with hardships in different ways whether this is in conducting mission or relief trips, or by merely praying for the victims, He gave us the freedom to choose and act as we will. Yes, we can utilize and perhaps even manipulate nature but I do not necessarily believe we are meant to control it because that is beyond our realm of control; it is God's and we cannot even begin to comprehend everything He is capable of. God is the ultimate being so in a way, He always wins because there is no competition against His will. The battle between man and nature is indeed, completely different just as Alex McKay stated. Just as he wrote, the balance was altered at the fall because then man was never again able to be satisfied in their quest for knowledge and understanding. Only God holds the knowledge to control nature because we are no longer deserving of it.Nature and its movements aren't disasters because they are acting in the manner in which they were created. Yes, the aftermath of events such as earthquakes and tsunamis are disastrous, but these are not reasons for non-believers to point their fingers toward God and question his reasoning. If anything, they should be a testament to His tremendous power and instill a respect among humans. We ultimately win when we are able to join Him again in heaven.

  26. As much as we can control what happens in the world (like with technology and such), people are still so limited because, at the end of the day, we’re still just people. We are only human. Earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters never fail to remind us of just how human we really are and we are confronted with the reality that some things are out of our hands. Natural disasters have reminded me of how powerless I am and I’d be lying if I said that I never questioned where there was justice—divine or earthly—in some of these events. Is there justice when people’s homes are ripped away and they are left defenseless? This is definitely an interesting conversation to have.

    -Sarah Moody

  27. It appears to me that nature always ends up winning. There are certain things about nature that we use to help us, however we never can fully have control of nature. If we were able to control nature, people would think less about nature and would not wonder who created it. In some ways i find not being able to control nature neat because it shows us how powerful God is because he is the only one who can control nature. We may be able to manipulate some parts of nature to reap benefits, but in the long run we have no control of it. We only can create things that adapt to nature, such as earthquake houses. We have no way of controlling earthquakes, but can build houses that are resistant to them.

  28. Nature wins every time. These things happen naturally but there is also a large impact that humans have made. I am lead to wonder whether or not changing our ways now would even help the natural world, I like to think that it would. Most of our negative impact on the world spawns from what we think that we need. We think that we need so much. This leads to mass production of so many things that have such a harmful effect on the environment. The worst part about it is that most of the things that are being produced lead a lack of socialization. We are so connected to our devices and things like that, that we think that we do not need people anymore. I have a solution for this. We all need to lives simpler lives within a community. Living a simple lives will force us to put down the things that we think we need and actually start talking to the people around us. Then, the lack of demand of these things will lead to less production, causing a smaller impact on the environment.