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Satirical Perspective on Noah's Gargantuan Task
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Character, Ethics, and Watching Films
January 9, 2014
Can humans cause natural disasters?
December 7, 2013
Floods are the second most common natural disasters. Only wildfires trump floods in frequent and widespread destruction.
In its educational page on floods, National Geographic lists the causes of floods, breaking them down into 'natural' and 'human' culprits. Can humans cause floods? The Bible thinks so. As does National Geographic.
In response to Christian theological claims about the earthquake and flooding in Haiti, Richard Dawkins wrote:
"We know what caused the catastrophe in Haiti. It was the bumping and grinding of the Caribbean Plate rubbing up against the North American Plate: a force of nature, sin-free and indifferent to sin, un-premeditated, unmotivated, supremely unconcerned with human affairs or human misery.”
"Haiti and the hypocrisy of Christian theology"
Washington Post, January 2010
Dawkins responds both to contemporary Christian interpreters of cataclysm, like Pat Robertson, who is developing a resume of quotable sound bites about hurricanse, tsunamis, and earthquakes, and to the Bible. Genesis 6-9 casts God's action as the cause of the flood, but casts human sin as the catalyst. Both Robertson and Genesis think human sin causes natural disasters.
Interestingly, it is often those same contemporary Christian groups who most vehemently deny the human impact on climate change.
Fukishima is an interesting text case. An earthquake caused a tsunami which caused a dangerous set of explosions in the nuclear reactor site at Fukishima. I am not aware of scientists linking human impact as a direct or indirect cuase of earthquakes. Nevertheless, one of the most dangerous results of that natural disaster was the destabalization of a man-made cataclysm, slow and unfolding still.
The Hebrew Bible is actually a little more interesting in its reflections on human endeavors and natural cataclysm. [proverbs]