God and the Oklahoma tornado

It’s getting harder and harder to expect journalists to cover disasters without it leading to a storyline about miracles and divine intervention. Theological discussions by journalists, who are in the business of asking questions, should be more complicated than that.

Rev. Wolf Blitzer takes top honors in the “awkward” category for this viral interview of a woman who wasn’t about to conform to the notion that surviving a tornado requires the intervention of the divine.

On a more intelligent level, the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog today asks the question that few seem to want to ask. “Where was God?” However, it approaches the question in response to an intellectual question: If one prays for divine intervention in the aftermath of a tornado, doesn’t that suggest divine intervention was possible in the mere existence of the tornado?

When atheists use natural disasters as a time to rebuke individuals of faith, there may be some indication that their argument against God is more of an emotional objection, rather an intellectual problem. However, with some atheists, it seems to be a genuine intellectual objection that dates back to the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus and later, David Hume.

Some atheists, following Hume, who are watching natural disasters or experiencing true evil, will often hold that the two statements: “An all-powerful and all-good God exists” and “Evil exists” are logically inconsistent. But other logicians will note that there is not an explicit contradiction in these statements. The atheist is often assuming that if God is all good, then He would prefer to create a world without evil than to create a world in which evil exists.

Tom Cabral, writing on his Faith & Fall River blog raises more questions than answers:

The God of the bible has what are called incommunicable attributes. Those he does not share with us. The bible declares God both omniscient (all knowing) and omnipotent (all powerful). Everything in his universe happens under his rule and reign. He knows the number of hairs on our heads, the days until we die, and the places you will live and whom you’ll live with.

Some claim that God has a multitude of plans and if one doesn’t work out he goes to plan B. That’s not what the scriptures declare. They declare that even the most powerful man’s existence is under the control of an all-powerful God “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Pro 21:1). Either he is fully sovereign or he is NOT sovereign at all. We cannot put God in a box. The first thing we cannot do is say God cannot stop evil.

If that’s true, than we’re back to the beginning of the discussion: why a tornado?

The question cannot be answered, Cabral says, because “we must not become the voice of God and answer.”