Science and YM – God, Man, and tsunamis

Dimitri Vassilaros wrote an insightful piece in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the tsunami and God.  I have to say it got me thinking about the decisions we make and who is to blame for stuff.  Many would blame God or say that it is his judgement, but I am of the opinion, as is Dimitri, that it is our own fault that so many people were killed. 


Since 1965, there has been a system in place to detect and warn for tsunamis in the Pacific basin, but there isn’t one in the Indian Ocean.  Granted that the Pacific has more earthquake activity and has more tsunamis, but the Indian Ocean is not immune from the same thing.  So along the line, some people made a decision that said that since the frequency is lower we don’t need a warning system.  So now close to 200,000 pay for the short sightedness of a few bureaucrats.  While God may have put the natural world into motion so in a way He caused the earthquake, we will be judged for not loving our brothers and sisters enough to protect them, when we could have. 


As Mr. Vassilaros says in his essay,


"What is our excuse in 2005? We know how to track storms, avoid fault lines and even sense tsunamis. We have the capabilities to communicate with virtually every person on Earth, whether by broadcast, telephone, Internet or air-raid siren.

"And yet many continue to act as if this tragedy is proof that God is trying to communicate with us.

"And maybe he is, but not in the way his interpreters would have you believe.

"God might be trying to remind us to place greater value on human life and take responsibility when we are at fault instead of automatically blaming him.

"Or maybe God just wants us to sacrifice a goat."

Christ said that second commandment is like the first (the first being love God with all of your heart and all your mind and all your soul), "love your neighbor as yourself."  

In a way, this is where some would call me quite liberal.  I think that no matter the country, we, the richer nations of the world, should have had a system in place year’s ago.  This might have kept the loss of life to lower levels.  Of course, the other way we will be judged is by the amount of comfort and aid to those who have been affected.  Either way, we are the ones at fault.

Science and YM – God, Man, and tsunamis

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very well put, Jeff. I don’t believe that God causes or endorses suffering, but instead, that He turns it into ultimate good, especially through lessons taught. Dimitri’s essay illustrates that point well. As a Christian and meteorologist myself, with (ahem) a long history of opinionated ranting, I’ve met with some friction in asserting that

    1. Tornadoes and hurricanes (and tsunamis) were happening long before we got here and
    2. It is up to us to prepare for and learn to live with them. They are normal, and yes, necessary geophysical processes. If we get in their way, or build homes in their path, we have to be ready for the repercussions. It is, as you assert, our fault for failing to do so.

    I have lived through Hurricane Andrew. Currently I live in the worldwide climatological bull’s eye for tornadoes. If my residence got hit by a tornado this spring, I will dislike, but accept, the consequences, as was the case with Andrew in South Florida. After all, these locations are where I chose to reside. Hopefully I’ll have the sense and awareness to ensure my family is safe in such an event.

    And by all means, we as scientists and Christians should assist our Indonesian brothers and other future potential tsunami targets worldwide to prepare for such events and to get out of their way. This principle is a large part of my motivation to go to work everyday and forecast any impending severe weather threats stateside.

    ===== Roger Edwards =====

  2. Jeff Lutz says:

    Thanks Roger. I appreciate the comment.

    > This principle is a large part of my motivation to go to work everyday and forecast any impending severe weather threats stateside.

    Me too. That’s why I got into the field. Though APX doesn’t get much in the way of svr wx. Unless you count the 150 inches of snow and the many lake effect snow bands that dump that snow. I guess it’s all relative. 😉

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