Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Did God Cause the Earthquake in Haiti?

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Did God Cause the Earthquake in Haiti?

Article excerpt

When horrible things happen in the world, it's natural to seek an explanation. Explanations offer a sense of control and meaning in situations that seem devoid of both. The devastation in Haiti caused by the January earthquake has left many asking, "Why did this happen?" Answering that question can be confusing and difficult when we consider our faith in an all-loving and all-powerful God.

It can be easy to blame God, but easy explanations such as "it's God's will" are dangerous. Some have even called the kind of God that these explanations depict "morally intolerable." Moreover, when we say, "Everything happens for a reason," and that thing is an earthquake in Haiti, we run the risk of justifying such death and destruction. Even worse, we may become complacent to it, not acknowledging the human role in creating structures and systems that contribute directly to the aftermath of a natural disaster. When an earthquake strikes Los Angeles, the death toll doesn't reach 150,000.

In short, there's no satisfactory answer for why natural disasters happen, While we believe that God is the creator of the universe, we also believe that everything in it--from the humans who walk on the earth's crust to the plates that float just beneath it--enjoys a natural freedom that leaves some things up to chance. Just as a bird will fly, a plate will move, and occasionally that can result in an earthquake. Naming God the direct cause of that collision would undermine the freedom of creation and challenge whether God is truly all-loving when we consider the results. …

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