Why does God allow natural disasters?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby cooran » Tue Jan 19, 2010 7:21 pm

Hello all,

An interesting question for many in the world .....

Why does God allow natural disasters?

At the heart of Haiti's humanitarian crisis is an age old question for many religious people - how can God allow such terrible things to happen? Philosopher David Bain examines the arguments.

Evil has always been a thorn in the side of those - of whatever faith - who believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God.

As the philosopher David Hume (echoing Epicurus) put it in 1776: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"

David Bain is a lecturer in the philosophy department of the University of Glasgow.

Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/u ... 467755.stm Published: 2010/01/19 13:11:52 GMT © BBC MMX

Edited to reduce quoted content to comply with possible copyright restrictions ~ Chris
Last edited by cooran on Wed Jan 20, 2010 7:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:19 pm

"If God designs the life of the entire world -- the glory and the misery,
the good and the evil acts, man is but an instrument of his will and God
alone is responsible."
Jataka V.238.

"He who eyes can see the sickening sight, why does not God set his
creatures right? If his wide power no limits can restrain, why is his hand
so rarely spread to bless? Why are his creatures all condemned to pain?
Why does he not to all give happiness? Why do fraud, lies, and
ignorance prevail? Why triumphs falsehood, -- truth and justice fail? I
count your God unjust in making a world in which to shelter wrong."

Jataka VI.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:26 pm

tiltbillings wrote:"If God designs the life of the entire world -- the glory and the misery,
the good and the evil acts, man is but an instrument of his will and God
alone is responsible."
Jataka V.238.

"He who eyes can see the sickening sight, why does not God set his
creatures right? If his wide power no limits can restrain, why is his hand
so rarely spread to bless? Why are his creatures all condemned to pain?
Why does he not to all give happiness? Why do fraud, lies, and
ignorance prevail? Why triumphs falsehood, -- truth and justice fail? I
count your God unjust in making a world in which to shelter wrong."

Jataka VI.


Those are excellent passages tilt thank you for posting those.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby Kim OHara » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:01 pm

cooran wrote:Hello all,
An interesting question for many in the world .....

Why does God allow natural disasters?

Yes, this has been a real problem - for centuries - for those who believe in an omnipotent benevolent deity.
The fact that not one of them has ever come up with an even half-way convincing answer seems to point to an error in the initial assumptions.
:thinking:

Kim
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby Kokoro » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:19 pm

If I may offer a couple of e-books which may be of some assistance...

Buddhism & the God-Idea by the Venereable Nyanaponika Thera
http://www.bps.lk/new_wheels_library/wh047.pdf
Kamma and its Fruit also by the Venerable Nyanaponika Thera
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/kammafruit.html

As a former theist, the idea that a creator god could not exsist was very difficult to understand and truly accept. In fact, it was the very thing that held me from embracing the Dhamma for years until recently. However, once I really understood the concept of Kamma, it was really only a matter of time before I was able to accept an atheistic stance regarding a creator god. In my own experience I have often found that understanding the law of Kamma and the concept of atheism (or even agnosticism) go very well together.

May you be well and happy, and my gratitude to Dr. David Snyder for his creation of and continuing contribution to Dhammawiki, from which I found the above mentioned e-books.

:anjali:
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby AdvaitaJ » Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:05 am

I would add that religions/deities should be judged on their results -- total up the casualties of the wars fought in the name of the various religions. And, let us not forget the "smaller" evils done in the name of religion such as the various inquisitions and "witch" trials with their attendant executions, many of which are particularly horrific. :cookoo:

Regards: AdvaitaJ
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jan 20, 2010 2:46 am

AdvaitaJ wrote:I would add that religions/deities should be judged on their results -- total up the casualties of the wars fought in the name of the various religions. And, let us not forget the "smaller" evils done in the name of religion such as the various inquisitions and "witch" trials with their attendant executions, many of which are particularly horrific. :cookoo:

Yes, but we're drifting off into standard-issue religion-bashing here. How about we look at our own response, as Buddhists, to natural disasters:
What should we do?
Show compassion, obviously, not just sit around talking about religion.
'Scuse me ... where's that Red Cross donor site ...?

:namaste:
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby notself » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:01 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
AdvaitaJ wrote:I would add that religions/deities should be judged on their results -- total up the casualties of the wars fought in the name of the various religions. And, let us not forget the "smaller" evils done in the name of religion such as the various inquisitions and "witch" trials with their attendant executions, many of which are particularly horrific. :cookoo:

Yes, but we're drifting off into standard-issue religion-bashing here. How about we look at our own response, as Buddhists, to natural disasters:
What should we do?
Show compassion, obviously, not just sit around talking about religion.
'Scuse me ... where's that Red Cross donor site ...?

:namaste:
Kim


I suggest the Buddhist Global Relief Fund recommendations are better choices. http://www.buddhistglobalrelief.org/act ... ppeal.html
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby appicchato » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:44 am

notself wrote:I suggest the Buddhist Global Relief Fund recommendations are better choices. http://www.buddhistglobalrelief.org/act ... ppeal.html


Excellent suggestion!...eveyone connected (from Bhikkhu Bodhi to your's truly) are volunteers, no one is on a payroll (to drain off donations)... :twothumbsup:
Last edited by appicchato on Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jan 20, 2010 3:45 am

Thanks, Notself,
They do look good too.

While looking up one of them, I came across this odd-but-maybe-useful site: Charity Navigator http://www.charitynavigator.org/
They assess charities for effective use of income, etc - here's their rundown on American Red Cross, for instance
http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3277
:namaste:

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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby notself » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:52 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:Thanks, Notself,
They do look good too.

While looking up one of them, I came across this odd-but-maybe-useful site: Charity Navigator http://www.charitynavigator.org/
They assess charities for effective use of income, etc - here's their rundown on American Red Cross, for instance
http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3277
:namaste:

Kim


Thank for the link. I put it in my favorites. The Red Cross is fairly well down the list, after many other charities and only rates 3 stars.
Last edited by notself on Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:01 am, edited 3 times in total.
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jan 20, 2010 4:57 am

notself wrote:Thank for the link. I put it in my favorites. The Red Cross is fairly well down the list, after many other charities.

Bear in mind that a lot of the charities they list are not humanitarian aid organisations. I didn't spend very long on the site - did you find a list there that ranked the humanitarian bodies?

Thanks,

Kim
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby notself » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:01 am

All but one of the charities listed by the Buddhist Global Relief Fund are rated 4 stars. (•Tzuchi Foundation is not listed) The Red Cross is rated only 3 stars.
All appear to be humanitarian relief organization but I have not checked.

•CARE
•Oxfam
•Doctors Without Borders
•Tzuchi Foundation (Taiwanese Buddhists)
•Direct Relief International
•Freedom from Hunger
Though one may conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, yet he is indeed the noblest victor who conquers himself. ---Dhp 103
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:07 am

notself wrote:All but one of the charities listed by the Buddhist Global Relief Fund are rated 4 stars. (•Tzuchi Foundation is not listed) The Red Cross is rated only 3 stars.
All appear to be humanitarian relief organization but I have not checked.

•CARE
•Oxfam
•Doctors Without Borders
•Tzuchi Foundation (Taiwanese Buddhists)
•Direct Relief International
•Freedom from Hunger

rated 4 stars By whom?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.
"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:56 am

tiltbillings wrote:rated 4 stars By whom?

Charity Navigator http://www.charitynavigator.org/ which I mentioned a few posts back.
:namaste:
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby Annapurna » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:56 am

Why does God allow natural disasters?

With a profound understanding of theist beliefs, natural catastrophes are no longer misunderstood as a deity's lack of good will, lack of power, or lack of compassion.

The fundamental error in this thinking is, that some people confuse 'paradise' with 'life on earth' .

A similar misunderstanding in Buddhism would be, to confuse the Deva realm with the human realm.
In both Theism and Buddhism, the human realm is a mix of both happiness and suffering

When the parents of a murdered child are thinking:

"How could God let this happen? There is no God, or an evil God, or a powerless God, if he is letting this happen!"

-then they are also ignorant of theist doctrine.

We are given free choice.

A murderer has the choice to respect the "precepts" or "commandments", or not...
...and will be confronted with the repercussion in both "faiths".

The result is always ours.

In Abr. theism: On "resurrection day" we face "judgment day". >>>Heaven, hell...purgatory...

In Buddhism
: "Rebirth" , "new karmic situation". >>>"Nibbana", "Heaven",(devas)"hell" .... ghost, human, animal,...

Viewed from the victims POVs, karma and 'God's will' are both inexplicable.

:anjali:
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby Kim OHara » Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:13 am

Hi, Annabel,
Could you explain or give sources, instead of making flat general statements which don't make much sense?
Just to take one issue, 'kamma' is cause and effect, clearly not under the control of any individual entity, while 'God's will' is the unconstrained choice of one particular entity.

The fact that both are beyond our understanding does not mean that they are equivalent.

The fact that both philosophies expect that individuals will receive rewards or retribution according to their actions does not make them morally equivalent. If I could have averted a murder - or an earthquake - but chose not to, I would be guilty of an evil act. God can always, according to the theory, avert such things but obviously chooses not to. They are therefore his responsibility, and he is guilty of evil acts. That is the classic 'problem of evil' which the theists find so difficult.

:namaste:
Kim
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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby acinteyyo » Wed Jan 20, 2010 10:49 am

In my opinion the question is wrongly asked. It is like the question "Am I or am I not?"
Every attempt to answer such a question has to be also wrong and futile, 'cause of taking something for granted which actually isn't.

best wishes, acinteyyo
Pubbe cāhaṃ bhikkhave, etarahi ca dukkhañceva paññāpemi, dukkhassa ca nirodhaṃ. (M.22)
Both formerly, monks, and now, it is just suffering that I make known and the ending of suffering.

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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby meindzai » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:21 pm

yes, Kamma theory and Theism are completely incompatible. God (or the gods) can screw with anybody, anywhere, at any time, for whatever reason he/she seems fit, regardless of one's actions or even beliefs. Just ask Job. Kamma is directly related to action.

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Re: Why does God allow natural disasters?

Postby Annapurna » Wed Jan 20, 2010 5:21 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Hi, Annabel,
Could you explain or give sources, instead of making flat general statements which don't make much sense?
Just to take one issue, 'kamma' is cause and effect, clearly not under the control of any individual entity, while 'God's will' is the unconstrained choice of one particular entity.

The fact that both are beyond our understanding does not mean that they are equivalent.

The fact that both philosophies expect that individuals will receive rewards or retribution according to their actions does not make them morally equivalent. If I could have averted a murder - or an earthquake - but chose not to, I would be guilty of an evil act. God can always, according to the theory, avert such things but obviously chooses not to. They are therefore his responsibility, and he is guilty of evil acts. That is the classic 'problem of evil' which the theists find so difficult.

:namaste:
Kim


Could you explain or give sources, instead of making flat general statements which don't make much sense?


Dear Kim, don't you know the Bible...?

Apparently not.

And please forgive me, but I don't have the time, nor any wish, to research the Bible for those exact passages.... no way. if you choose not to trust me, fine... :broke:

But I have no interest or time in lecturing or convincing you...

So. I guess that will end the conversation...

Annabel
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/
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