In more primitive times, people lacked the knowledge to understand natural disasters. Wind, rain, thunder and lightning were mysterious and were soon given supernatural causes. The survivors of these disasters felt blessed and those who succumbed were considered cursed.
Fast forward to present times when we understand how much of the natural world works. In addition to that understanding, we also have communications that girdles the globe almost instantaneously. Within seconds of the first wisps of white smoke from the Sistine Chapel, millions of people knew a new Pope had been elected.
Blaming a few victims of a disaster on the anger of God may have made sense 3800 years ago. However, considering the disaster related deaths of thousands or millions today as the hand of God in action raises many questions.
Billy Graham is presented with this issue by one of his readers in the March 14, 2013 Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Billy’s reader says, “When a hurricane or some other disaster hits, then everyone suffers, whether they are religious or not. What difference does it make, then, whether or not we believe in God? Why bother believing in God, if He treats everyone the same way?” You can read all of Billy’s answer here.
Billy’s reader states the case for evil in the world. How can a loving God permit (or cause) so much evil to exist? A secondary question posed by the reader is this: “If God treats believers and unbelievers alike, why believe?”
Billy responds with a weak start: Sometimes God will spare us from suffering and sometimes he won’t. This just underscores the reader’s question and makes God’s help appear to be no better than random chance.
Billy then goes downhill by asking, “Isn't it better to know He is with us to help us than to be totally alone when disaster strikes?” Billy says it is better to have an invisible friend with us in the storm cellar, a friend who may or may not do anything to help, rather than being alone. I don’t see a distinction between the two situations. Being alone seems to be the same as having an invisible companion who isn’t going to help.
It’s possible that even the great Billy Graham does not have a rational answer for this question. Maybe he should just wave his hands while saying, “God works in mysterious ways.”
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