an act of god?

18 04 2010

There was a murder in my garden yesterday. I watched as a caterpillar was eaten alive by ants.
Was this an act of God?

There was new life in my back garden yesterday. 4 blackbirds hatched in a nest just outside our bedroom window.
Was this an act of God?

There was the death of a child this week in Crawley where used to live. An 18-month old was tragically killed by a family dog.
as this an act of God?
re was the birth of a child this week in St Helier where I live now.  A friend gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
Was this an act of God?

an act of god?

There was chaos in the skies this week. All flights across the UK and most of Europe were cancelled because of the ash cloud from Iceland.
Was thi
s an of God?

There was beauty in the skies this week. All across the UK we’ve had some of the loveliest spring weather and the bluest skies – with not a plane in sight.
Was this an act of God?

an act of god?

Insurance companies are using the ‘it was an act of God’ defence to prevent themselves having to pay out further to assist travellers stuck because of the ash. This got me thinking about how lazy thinking and lazy theology gets God accused of all sorts of things. An ‘act of God’ usually means something like a natural disaster, something we have no control over. Something we don’t usually give God the credit for.

It’s a generalisation that just doesn’t work. If the eruption of the Eyjafjallajoekull volcano was an act of God, were the beautiful clear skies before it erupted an act of God; and is the rest of the clear sky around the ash cloud an act of God? Is our ability to fly at 30,000 feet at all an act of God?

this isn't relevant, but is funny

This lazy thinking gets into all parts of our life. A volcano tarnishing God’s reputation is like saying all TV is rubbish because Piers Morgan is on it. All politicians are plastic because David Cameron’s face has no lines. All footballers are stupid because… well, I won’t name names. God is bad because a volcano erupted? It’s lazy thinking.

For many, ‘acts of God’ like natural disasters are a reason for not believing in God. I understand that when bad stuff happens it can turn us off the idea of God. Whilst very understandable, isn’t this a bit of lazy thinking and lazy theology? Natural disasters may make us choose to not like or follow God, but they don’t prove or disprove whether he or she or they are there.

We need to remember that if we blame him for the bad stuff we should give him credit for  the good stuff. If bad things are God’s fault then good things are God’s fault. Aren’t they?

Or maybe it’s not that simple? Do we need to think harder before we attribute things as ‘act of God’? Ah, now we‘re getting beyond lazy thinking and really talking….

is it a plane? no

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3 responses

19 04 2010

We all have to struggle tro reconcile what we know of God’s character with the sordid and nasty things we see in the world around us. It isn’t wrong to cry out to and at God as Habakkuk did. In fact it is part of the path towards Christian maturity. God’s answers amaze us too and he expects us to be amazed (Hab 1.5).

Perhaps the problem is that we don’t want to be on a path to maturity; we would like to buy the ’12 easy steps to a blessed and easy life’, instead. But God is in the death and the cancer, in the squalor and the pain, in the hunger and the lonliness and he expects us to be there to. We can’t separate it out and say ‘what we enjoy is God given and good and what we don’t is evil and not of God’. God looked at what he had made and it was good.

The real truth is not what we are comfortable with in our age of scientific rationalism that can solve any problem, even a volcano. The real answer is that God’s ways are not our ways and we don’t understand it all – if we were capable of that we would be God. Part of maturity is admitting the unknowns and the things that are beyond our understanding which is maybe why we don’t want to be mature Christians anymore, just happy ones!

20 04 2010

Your point is a good one and well made, Kevin. I think the reverse is true, too. How quick and easy (and lazy) it is for ‘religious’ people to attribute things to the Devil.
When we look at things that we don’t like, or with which we can not agree, or of which we ‘should’ not approve, we do need to think harder before we conclude that those things are not Godly. And does it necessarily follow that these things are attributable to the Devil’s handiwork? The story of Job and what it may infer about God’s tactical delivery plan is always a fascinating and troubling thing to contemplate.
The controversy surrounding the Catholic church at the moment is a media feeding frenzy which requires more complex analysis than our simplistic and judgemental opinionated debates can hope to make sense of. We can rush to judge and yet should not judge. But not judging is not right either, if that is to disengage or abdicate. Somewhere in there is a tangled weave of evil, goodness, despair, hope and confusion, wrapped up amongst all sorts of other human emotion and church morality and unattributable spiritual activity, no doubt.
Act of God, work of the Devil, or just sinful man? It’s a crazy mixed-up, messed-up world.
Fortunately Jesus didn’t say we had to make sense of it all. As c2drl says, part of maturity is admitting the unknowns and the things that are beyond our understanding. Sometimes, that covers just about everything!

20 04 2010

And sometimes its the unknowns that cause the most problems for faith, but also generate the most creativity in faith. Being able to not make sense of everything, yet still have opinions and thoughts and seek wisdom, is a bit of a lost art in many places. I’m glad when it’s not just Christians that do ‘lazy answers’, and sometimes we can have a go at ‘the others’ too… not that I believe in ‘others’…!

See this for a cheeky take on this issue:

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