God and Disaster

15 03 2011

I have already had my say about the over emphasis on religion for the Christchurch earthquake memorial, the assumption that Christianity should be front and centre, even though there is little evidence the dead and maimed are chrstians. I may lose this battle, but I plan to win the war.

A. C. Grayling has an excellent take on god, the religious and natural disasters.

Someone told me that there were to be special prayers in their local church for the people of Japan. This well-intentioned and fundamentally kindly proceeding nevertheless shows how absurd, in the literal sense of this term, are religious belief and practice. When I saw the television footage of people going to church in Christchurch after the tragic quake there, the following thoughts pressed. It would be very unkind to think that the churchgoers were going to give thanks that they personally escaped; one would not wish to impute selfishness and personal relief in the midst of a disaster in which many people arbitrarily and suddenly lost their lives through ‘an act of God’. If they were going to pray for their god to look after the souls of those who had died, why would they think he would do so since he had just caused, or allowed, their bodies to be suddenly and violently crushed or drowned?

During the TV news coverage in Christchurch, probably on the second day from memory, an American couple were interviewed on TV3, and the woman did give thanks to god that he chose to spare her life. There didn’t seem to be a flicker of recognition from her that, if this were true, then those who died were chosen to die by god. Chosen to be mangled beyond recognition, by the same god who spared her life. Read the article here.

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