Acts of God

by  John Roland Stahl
May, 2008

      Sometimes things go really well, and then sometimes it seems that everything goes wrong.  Some things we plan are thwarted, and unexpected obstacles sometimes come along to divert us from our intended path.  On these occasions, I try to retain perspective.  I think to myself that I am still alive and healthy, and that puts me way ahead of a very long list of people, with the list lengthening every day.  While we may worry about a tooth-ache that is bothering us, someone else is swept off the freeway and killed.  

      So, along those lines I noticed the headlines about a recent cyclone in Myanmar (Burma), with 10,000 dead.  Just like that, 10,000 people are simply swept away by this cyclone — their stories are over.  

      Well, by this morning’s paper the total dead is up to 22,000 with another 41,000 missing!  That’s over 60,000 people dead or missing from this cyclone!  Just blown away by “an act of God.”  

      I want to say that I don’t believe that the cyclones are sent by “God.”  That is not the God I know!  I am not the only one who has been troubled by the contradiction of a good, loving, merciful, and all-powerful God who yet blows away people by the thousands with one disaster after another.  I have dealt with this issue in the Postscript to my main exposition of principles of metaphysics (and theology): Patterns of Illusion and Change, but I just want to repeat here that I understand “God” as the source of Order and Good in the world, in the midst of a swirling mass of chaos and confusion.  Without the constant efforts of God, with everyone on His side pulling an oar, the whole thing would descend into Chaos very quickly.  

      That appears to be happening these days!  Horrendous as these “acts of God” are, they are cast into the shade by the deliberate villainy of Man to Man in acts of war that are crushing civilization under its heel.  But, in addition to the wholesale slaughter of innocents through the organized efforts of war, there are also numerous small villainies happening all the time, all over the world, through some combination of ignorance, fear, or greed, and all of this is just dragging us down.

      So I want to ask everyone (“everyone” that is, who loves the Earth and wants life to continue) to get on deck, find an oar, and start hauling!  Don’t just sit around drinking beer saying that it’s all going to hell.  It is we who must take responsibility for the future of life on earth.

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