Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunamis and the Moral Anthropology: Paths of Reconciliation

In addition to Susan's and Rick's posts, I've received many thoughtful responses to my earlier post on the seemingly inescapable tension between a theologically grounded moral anthropology and the tsunamis in Asia. Ralph the Sacred River directs our attention to the following quote from Richard Swinburne:

A theodicist is in a better position to defend a theodicy such as I have outlined if he is prepared also to make the further additional claim — that God knowing the worthwhileness of the conquest of evil and the perfecting of the universe by men, shared with them this task by subjecting himself as man to the evil in the world. A creator is more justified in creating or permitting evils to be overcome by his creatures if he is prepared to share with them the burden of the suffering and effort.

Patrick O'Hannigan at the Paragraph Farmer offers a string of worthwhile observations, and then challenges the premise of my post:

Earthquakes are neither moral nor immoral, and to ask whether God is "culpable" for them is to presume a prosecutorial stance that didn't work for Job and won't work for us, either. Moreover, the Christian worldview is anchored in the person of Jesus; it's not an abstraction subject to disproof by tidal waves, Nazis, Stalinist famine, molested children, or shocking numbers of legally aborted babies.

Live By Not Lies suggests that:

In each of Vischer’s models the basic assumption is that God’s role is to keep us safe and prosperous. Yet, that makes God subject to us. He becomes the one who fulfills our needs and wants. When he does not do this then God in that model is not being God. God becomes dead as Nietzche says he is. Yet, when we understand the teachings of Jesus, we see that his message was not one of telling us who God is, as much as telling us who we are in light of the existence of God.

John DiGregorio focuses on the far-reaching consequences of free will, proposing that:

one of the consequences of Original Sin was the loss of our ability to understand how to live on the home God created for us. My guess is that earthquakes rumbled and volcanoes erupted and tornadoes spun wildly before The Fall, but human creatures, still living in the beatific vision, understood how to live with these natural phenomena. How? I can't imagine. I'm too filled with concupiscence to properly imagine Paradise. Why would God allow the decision of one man, Adam (who was probably one of many men), to bring death (even the death of complete innocents) permanently into the world? I think God takes the true freedom he gives us very seriously and there is no true freedom without true, and lasting, consequences--both for good (when we follow God's will) and for bad (when we choose to sin).

Teresa Collett wisely recommends John Paul II's apostolic letter on suffering. Not suprisingly, C.S. Lewis and Peter Kreeft are other sources of wisdom commonly cited in the responses.

None of these are likely to do the heavy lifting demanded by those who do not find faith in God to be otherwise tenable, but they may help illuminate the path of reconciliation for those who know both God and tsunamis to be unmistakable elements of their lived realities.



Vischer, Rob | Permalink

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