January 2, 2005

What, exactly, does the Archbishop think God should be doing?

* Update to the Update: I got into the actual article [here] and it is indeed nothing like what the news story presented. It's quite good in fact. My apologies to Dr Rowan.

The Archbishop is an idiot...

[The Telegraph's reporters are idiots!]
The Asian tsunami disaster should make all Christians question the existence of God, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, writes in The Telegraph today.

In a deeply personal and candid article, he says "it would be wrong" if faith were not "upset" by the catastrophe which has already claimed more than 150,000 lives. Prayer, he admits, provides no "magical solutions" and most of the stock Christian answers to human suffering do not "go very far in helping us, one week on, with the intolerable grief and devastation in front of us"...(thanks to
Peter Burnet)

I will try to explain this in terms that even a trendizoid lefty bishop can understand: Natural disasters slaughter huge numbers of people all the time. Malaria is just as much a natural disaster as a tsunami. Malaria kills a million people every year. Most of them children under the age of five.

Most people who are educated enough to ponder the mysterious ways of God are aware of things like this. If natural disasters were going to make us question the existence of God, we would have questioned it a long time ago. Most of the people on earth will die of a natural disaster called aging, which seems to be built into our genes.

There is however a type of person to whom nothing is real unless it is at the top of the news on TV. To that sort, a million malaria deaths are no more real than the tree falling unheard in the forest. To them, AIDS is real because it causes celebrity fund-raisers, and colon cancer isn't real because it isn't noticed by Princess Diana. I think that describes the Archbishop.

And what exactly does His Holiness think God should do? Prevent all earthquakes? Prevent only BIG earthquakes? If an earthquake kills 100 people, should we doubt the existence of God because he didn't prevent it? What if 1,500 earthquakes over the course of a decade killed 100 people each? Is that the same as 1 quake killing 150,000? Or is it OK for those little quakes to be under God's radar?

And what about the souls of those killed? I notice the Archbishop makes no reference to them. To me, the Archbishop doesn't sound like someone whose faith has been shaken, he sounds like the village atheist using a disaster to try to shake other people's faith. Or maybe just a headline-grabber using a catastrophe to strike a pose and get some attention.

One more thought. There's another powerful entity that many people have faith in. That creature is government. Tsunami warning systems could have saved many of those who died, and that sort of thing is usually provided by governments. And not by God. I would be much more impressed with the Archbishop's profundity if he were to do some soul-searching about Socialism for a change.

And I'm far more impressed by real Christians (including our President) who just roll up their sleeves and get busy, without a lot of gassy philosophizing...

* UPDATE: Doug Murray says in a comment that the article misrepresents the Archbishop. The Telegraph web-site won't let me into the actual piece, but you are warned...

Posted by John Weidner at January 2, 2005 8:50 AM
Weblog by John Weidner