Tsunami was Gods Retribution?

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JewelSong
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Post by JewelSong »

SirDennis wrote:In the meantime suffering in the world is often the direct result of human action...Tell me which one of the things cannot be attributed to the kinds of choices humans as a whole, even the moral ones, have made, individually or corporately?
Well, any and all natural disasters, for a start. Earthquakes, tornadoes, tidal waves, hurricanes, floods...none of these are the direct result of human action. All result in human suffering, sometimes on a massive scale. They have nothing to do with human choices, as far as I can determine.
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Post by SirDennis »

The suffering that results from such things is due in part to a failure to avail ourselves of known techniques to build structures that can withstand disasters. There has also been a lack of will to resettle populations away from areas that are prone to disasters. In both cases they are not done because there is no profit in it; we'd rather waste the resources on something that helps no one for very long. Of course often people are willing to take their chances if the place has a nice view of the ocean. Human action does have an impact on the weather but I'm not really clear on the details so we'll leave it at that.

Either way, are we now straying back to the idea that God visits disasters on us as punishment?
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JewelSong
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Post by JewelSong »

SirDennis wrote:... are we now straying back to the idea that God visits disasters on us as punishment?
Not at all. I just do not agree that all suffering in the world is our own fault. Things happen, regardless of where you live or how strongly you build a structure. Weather occurs and sometimes it is brutal...and unavoidable. Not everyone who suffers through an earthquake or tornado is living someplace simply so they can have a "nice view of the ocean."
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Post by vison »

Christopher Hitchens said as near to what I would say when he said, "Created sick and commanded to be well." However, that's neither here nor there, and it's rather beside the point.

Every religion I've ever heard of tells its adherents that they can never know the mind of their god. It all must be taken on faith and trust. Humans suffer. Terrible things happen. And yet, the faithful must accept and believe that in the end god's plan will be fulfilled. "Trials of the road will then seem as nothing". God is in charge, god's will be done.

This seems perfectly logical to me. If you are going to believe in a being that could create everything there is, then the mind of that god must be beyond our powers to understand. It "lets" River's sister suffer over and over - but maybe that suffering furthers the purposes of god. Maybe there is a reason for it and that reason must remain beyond the believer's comprehension. To the believer (and the non-believer) it can seem cruel and capricious. Maybe it is. How can anyone know? Who can say what god's purpose is, or how god might be pleased or annoyed? There are those who say they know, but almost always some other believer says the exact opposite.

That god might very well smite Japan. It might do anything it liked or thought of. That is the god's business.

I have no problem with it all, once the belief is in place. As always, for me, there is no reason to believe. I will never assert that a god doesn't exist. The fact, and it is a terrible fact, that humans suffer horribly, always have and always will, does not cause me to not "believe" in a god.

People pray all the time. I'm never sure exactly what they pray for. Exemption from suffering? A cure for their sister's cancer? Good crops?

Someone told me: I pray that I might accept god's will.

Well, pray or not, god's will is god's will. What god is going to do, god is going to do, god always was.
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Post by SirDennis »

The other day someone asked me to pray for their neighbour's son who ran away from home. I did and he came back soon after. Cause and effect? Who can say? But what if it was possible to pray and you didn't? Or what if God wants a relationship with us and all the other stuff in life is just window dressing good or bad?

Anyway, Jewel, I'm not assigning blame. (What is it about God and blame anyway?) Consider in a perfect world, where human needs and the well being of everyone (not the wants of individuals) were put first, all over the globe. Same world, hurricanes and all, what would be different about that world? Where would resources go? If people had to, for some reason, live in New Orleans, what would be different about the infrastructure there, or the quality of homes? How about places where people live at waters' edge rather than in the highlands further back? What would be different in a world where human well being, all humans equally came first?
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Post by JewelSong »

SirDennis wrote: Consider in a perfect world, where human needs and the well being of everyone (not the wants of individuals) were put first, all over the globe. ?
Indeed. It would be the Kingdom of Heaven, here on earth. It is within our power to make it so...

"...for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."
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Post by Maria »

JewelSong wrote:My father once said that as he was coming out of dental anesthesia, he suddenly realized he had the answer to everything...the whole mystery of our being and the universe right in front of him. He said he was sure it wasn't imaginary - he KNEW he had the answer.

Then he woke up and it was all gone.
I had an experience like that once (no anesthesia involved- just meditating with the intent to connect with my "higher self"). I was left with the distinct impression that the human mind cannot contain all that info and that it was a very dangerous thing I'd just done.

I haven't tried that particular type of meditation ever again. I kind of like my brain *not* short circuited and burnt out.
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Post by SirDennis »

JewelSong wrote:
SirDennis wrote: Consider in a perfect world, where human needs and the well being of everyone (not the wants of individuals) were put first, all over the globe. ?
Indeed. It would be the Kingdom of Heaven, here on earth. It is within our power to make it so...

"...for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you."
Probably doesn't need to be pointed out but the converse, "why isn't there heaven on Earth," is because of the things humans do or do not do.

The question that apparently we cannot come to a consensus on is "where does the motivation come from to do (or not to do that which works against it) the things that would help create a more heavenly world?"

If we accept that people are fundamentally flawed in some or all their ways, what does the hope that things could ever be different rest upon? Where does the courage to do what is right, rather than give ourselves over to become a chaotic glob of meat-flavoured goo, come from?

All I'm saying is, since we are imperfect, it must come from outside ourselves. Some have learned that that perfection can be invited into ourselves; though once there it only begins a process of sanctification -- often experienced in fits and starts, in walking away and coming back, in still embracing wrong ideas from time to time but then seeing ones own error (often with the help of others) -- not perfection itself. That, I'm afraid is something we all readily agree (as far as I can tell) cannot be attained in this life.

ps Maria, I love the way you describe human experience, analogous to the idea "perhaps we are robots." :)
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Post by yovargas »

SirDennis wrote:Probably doesn't need to be pointed out but the converse, "why isn't there heaven on Earth," is because of the things humans do or do not do.
Humans didn't create droughts or cancer or Alzheimer's or tornadoes or malaria or blizzards or HIV or parasites. Or even less grandly tragic things like, say, the pains, difficulties, and dangers of pregnancy .We could be saints, every last one of us, and there'd still be enormous amounts of suffering in the world. Not any kind of heaven at all.
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Post by SirDennis »

yovargas wrote:
SirDennis wrote:Probably doesn't need to be pointed out but the converse, "why isn't there heaven on Earth," is because of the things humans do or do not do.
Humans didn't create droughts or cancer or Alzheimer's or tornadoes or malaria or blizzards or HIV or parasites. Or even less grandly tragic things like, say, the pains, difficulties, and dangers of pregnancy .We could be saints, every last one of us, and there'd still be enormous amounts of suffering in the world. Not any kind of heaven at all.
I hope you do not think that I was saying that because we aren't saints that we are exposed to the suffering those things bring? If so, perhaps the point that suffering is often the result of human action is too fine to grasp based on my limited ability to communicate.

For instance, here in Canada, in the 1800's a large number of workers died of malaria while building the Rideau Canal. Why did they die there (and not somewhere else or from something else)? Clearly it was because of the decision to build the waterway. Why was the decision taken to build the waterway? Because someone decided it was necessary to defend against American invasion. Why was there a concern about American invasion? Because someone decided to go to war. Why did someone decide to go to war? Who can say? But there is another question: if it was necessary to build the waterway, why weren't precautions taken against malaria, or some other plan adopted that did not involve subjecting people to such risk? Given that the defences were not needed for their intended purpose (due largely because civil war became the preoccupation among Americans by the time the canal was finished) was it really necessary to build the thing at such a cost to human life and suffering?

Anyway, I hope my point is made clearer now, without further cherry picking.

Actually one more thing, in the case of droughts... are they world wide? Today why does a drought in one part of the world almost always (if not always) lead to human misery? And even where it cannot be demonstrated that the drought was a direct result of human activity (though sometimes they are) what of the suffering?
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Post by yovargas »

SirDennis wrote:I hope you do not think that I was saying that because we aren't saints that we are exposed to the suffering those things bring?
I did not but my point still stands. A perfect human race could reduce a lot of suffering but there would still be a whole lot left. So, no, not like heaven at all.
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Post by SirDennis »

yovargas wrote:
SirDennis wrote:I hope you do not think that I was saying that because we aren't saints that we are exposed to the suffering those things bring?
I did not but my point still stands. A perfect human race could reduce a lot of suffering but there would still be a whole lot left. So, no, not like heaven at all.
Ah, sorry. Yes I agree that heaven on earth, -- assuming that things such as bad weather, fault lines, potential for disease etc would still be lurking in the background -- is not attainable. But human action or inaction (okay by and large) do cause them and determine where suffering related to such things enters into it, its nature and extent.

Alzheimer's, the various cancers, disease in general... have they always been there or are they new to us? If they have always been there is it a case we didn't recognize them, or that people often did not live long enough to develop the disease? Does anyone die of old age anymore? If they were not always there, by what agent were they introduced to humanity?
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Post by Maria »

SirDennis wrote:ps Maria, I love the way you describe human experience, analogous to the idea "perhaps we are robots."
Hey, I wasn't going for a robot analogy, but I can't think of anything more appropriate than electronics as an example. If you run too much current through a circuit, it will burn out. If you run too much information through an organic brain, it will either pass out or die. I think. There's just not enough processing power or storage capacity available to comprehend something really huge in scope. At least... not in my brain. That's what I glean from my experience, anyway. Others' mileage may differ, of course.
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Post by River »

"Old age" is kind of a catch basin for the myriad ways a body fails. If it appears to be "going away" as a cause of death it's simply because doctors have gotten better at describing the stuff that used to fall in that catch basin.
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Post by vison »

This really happened to me today and while I was driving home after I was thinking about this thread.

I was at the big post office in town today and, the way you do sometimes, fell into conversation with the lady in front of me. She was holding a paper that puzzled her, something she had to sign for, she thought. I said I was only there to buy stamps.

She said, suddenly and in a rush, "Last week I had to pick up the coroner's report on my daughter's death."

Well, there was no way of escaping this conversation without being appallingly rude, so I said, "Oh, I am so sorry. So very sorry."

She was trembling and nearly crying. She went on and on about her daughter, almost as if she thought I knew the girl. Her daughter had committed suicide, "they" said. But this lady is sure her daughter was murdered. By the boyfriend, of course. Drugs involved.

I just kept saying, "I'm so sorry. I hope you get the answers you need."

She went on more. I listened mostly in silence. It was a very long lineup and it seemed to move at a glacial pace.

Then she said, "I'm a Christian. I'm praying for his soul. Praying he won't go to hell." Meaning the daughter's boyfriend, who she thinks murdered the girl.

From me, more of "I hope you find peace." That sort of thing.

At last the lady got to go up to the counter, then it was my turn. She signed for whatever she signed for and then she came over to me. "I'm sorry I unloaded on you," she said. "But you have such a kind face." She pressed her hand to my shoulder. "I keep praying," she said. "I keep praying for his soul."

I hardly know what to make of this lady. She was an ordinary sort of woman, I would guess a Mennonite because half the people who live around here are Mennonites.

In one way I admire her generosity of spirit. I don't have any faith in prayer, myself, but I have a great faith in the power of forgiveness. I don't know if she has forgiven the man she thinks killed her daughter. Does praying for his soul mean she has?

I'm not sure I could pray to keep him out of hell, if I was her.

But then, I don't know. She is sure she'll see her daughter in Heaven one day.

So all these questions. I wonder what she thinks Heaven will be? Will her poor girl be glad to see her killer if Mum's prayers are successful? I just CAN'T imagine any of this. It's utterly, completely, and totally beyond anything I am capable of.

I'm not trying to be . . . unpleasant. I am sincerely trying to understand this mindset. My heart aches for this poor woman and if her faith and her prayers bring her comfort, I'm glad of it.
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Post by SirDennis »

A sad story. I think your take is pretty wise, that it is good she is choosing forgiveness rather than rage or vengefulness. Her daughter was a victim of something. This mother is choosing not also to be a victim (by being consumed by negativity) even though she clearly is a victim in a corporeal sense. Where she gets such strength? * sigh *
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Post by tinwë »

A quick comment on the statement made earlier that we could eliminate the suffering from natural disasters if we built structures designed to withstand them. I took a structural engineering class back when I was in architecture school where we were given an assignment to design a house that could withstand a tornado. The assignment was intended to be an exercise in futility, not because it can’t be done - it can, easily in fact: throw enough steel and concrete at a building and you can design it to withstand anything. No, the point was to demonstrate that it would, in fact, be impossible to design structures that could withstand every possible eventuality for every person in the world. The resources, time and money simply do not exist for such design. You would be amazed at what it takes to build something to withstand a tornado. We had one come through our town a few days ago - missed my brother’s house by less than two miles, and completely destroyed several homes. These were modern structures that were built to withstand a 90 mile per hour wind load (what the code requires for this area), and there was nothing left of them but the concrete slab on the ground.

Of course there are things we could, and should, do better at. There is an exclusive beachfront town here in North Carolina where multi-million dollar houses are routinely destroyed by hurricanes and the government keeps paying to rebuild them. It’s ridiculous! I also think it’s fairly absurd that some of the largest cities on the West Coast are built in areas that are certain to fall into the sea in the foreseeable future. But the inescapable fact is that if we were to take all of the people out of all of the places subject to earthquakes, flooding, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, volcanoes, drought, and any other natural phenomenon that poses a threat to us, there wouldn’t be enough land left to house all seven billion of us. Maybe if we pursued a population control program using aggressive birth control, family planning and abortion procedures we could keep the population down to a safe number, but religion seems to be opposed to that sort of thing.

The world would, undoubtedly, be a much better place if greed, selfishness, short-sightedness, callousness, hatred and all of the other human failings were replaced with genuine caring, empathy and understanding of our fellow man, but even then there would still be suffering and bad things would still happen to good people. I utterly reject the notion that suffering came into the world because of sin. Adam and Eve would have eventually known suffering even if they had never gone anywhere near the apple tree. Imo.
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Post by River »

tinwë wrote: But the inescapable fact is that if we were to take all of the people out of all of the places subject to earthquakes, flooding, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, volcanoes, drought, and any other natural phenomenon that poses a threat to us, there wouldn’t be enough land left to house all seven billion of us.
Nor would we be able to feed them. The sea coasts and most, if not all, of the world's good cropland would be excluded.
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Post by Frelga »

We are not going to fall into the ocean! :rage:

As I understand it, the movement of the plates is lateral, and eventually SF will be a suburb of LA, or vice versa.

Vison, :hug:
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Post by Lalaith »

vison wrote:
So all these questions. I wonder what she thinks Heaven will be? Will her poor girl be glad to see her killer if Mum's prayers are successful? I just CAN'T imagine any of this. It's utterly, completely, and totally beyond anything I am capable of.

I'm not trying to be . . . unpleasant. I am sincerely trying to understand this mindset. My heart aches for this poor woman and if her faith and her prayers bring her comfort, I'm glad of it.
Like SirD, I would agree that she seems to be trying to choose forgiveness instead of hatred and bitterness--things that will consume her soul and destroy her as well.

As for what heaven will be, who can say for sure? We are given some insights in the Bible, but it is a mystery in many ways. I had it pointed out to me one time that it doesn't mention the famous part about God wiping away all of our tears till the end of the book of Revelation (chapter 21); I suppose the point of that was that we could be capable of tears until a certain point. ?? The "no more tears, no more sorrow" passage is after the new heaven and new earth is made. So up until then--what? I don't know. Peace somehow, I think, but, perhaps, with an awareness of what is still going on in the world. It's an interesting...and disconcerting...thought.
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