Times-Call (Longmont)

If God continuall­y intervened, free will would be an illusion

- — Carl Brady, Frederick

A recent letter in regard to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria raised the question of why a loving God would allow such a disaster. This certainly isn’t a new question. Philosophe­rs and theologian­s have pondered it throughout recorded history.

The book “Disasters: Core

Concepts and Ethical Theories,” which can be accessed online, provides a comprehens­ive multidisci­plinary overview of disaster ethics. One chapter “Christian Theology and Disasters: Where is God in All This?” seems especially pertinent to the thoughts expressed by the letter writer. It looks at the question from many points of view and for anyone interested in this subject I would recommend reading it all.

One aspect that struck a responsive chord with me has to do with the free will God has granted to all of us. If God intervened every time we could be hurt, much pain and suffering could be avoided, but our free will would be an illusion. A world without predictabl­e consequenc­es would make moral responsibi­lity impossible. Science as we know it would also be impossible because God would be interferin­g constantly with nature and people to prevent human suffering.

Our world is consistent with the existence of an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God who so values intentiona­l loving relationsh­ips that he allows free will to exist even though humans may experience some pain and suffering. We should also keep in mind that human decisions often have a lot to do with the extent of the consequenc­es.

In a report on the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, NPR quoted experts as saying that a lot of the damage there was because the buildings were not properly designed for such an earthquake prone area. And then, when the quake did occur, immediate local search and rescue efforts, so important for minimizing casualties, were totally inadequate.

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