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Natural Disasters : Alternative View

by N D Jayaweera

Now that the shock of the Tsunami has given way to the long and painful task of recovery, the question why such disasters should occur at all keeps recurring and a range of divergent answers have been provided, from the scientific to the esoteric. What follows is another tentative answer to that question.

We know the manifest causes of both 9/11 and 26/12. In the case of the former it was the initiative of some terrorists and of the latter, the pressure built up at the junction of two tectonic plates. About that there is no dispute.

However, I want to suggest that these space-time events had causes at the unmanifest level also. Though talking about such things at this moment may seem academic, I shall dwell on it anyway. The reason being that, working only at the manifest level while ignoring the deeper causes, will always prove futile as they have hitherto proved to be, time and time again.

In what follows I am suggesting that all problems, from a tooth ache to a Tsunami, have their provenance at the unmanifest level, and should therefore be addressed at that level also. Which is not to say that we should not continue working at the manifest level, but that unless we are also mindful of the deeper invisible causes, from time to time more and more problems, ranging from natural disasters to political, economic and societal catastrophes, will keep breaking the surface.

The quantum world view
The contemporary scientific world-view holds that while one set of causes operates at the manifest level, a parallel set of causes operates at the unmanifest level, which one of their leading lights, Nobel Prize physicist David Bohm calls the "Implicate Order". This view of the world, known as the quantum world-view is based entirely on its analysis of the atom. According to quantum physicists only 00.001% of an atom can be apprehended by our senses while 99.999% of it is empty space unknowable to the senses. From this it follows that, since the whole universe is comprised of atoms, what we apprehend as the world is only 00.001% of what actually constitutes it, which is another way of saying that with our five senses we can know only a mere . 001% of reality.

Quantum scientists also claim that the atoms that comprise the universe, including our bodies and brains, never die and have been around since the Big Bang 14 billion years ago, and therefore carry with them the experiences and data accumulated over all those years.

However, beyond saying that, the quantum physicists are not willing to say much, except that, probing the empty space of 99.999% of reality is beyond their technologies and capacities. There the scientific enterprise terminates and mystics and men of religion take over. Let us therefore turn to what some of the latter have had to say. The poverty of theology in accounting for man-made or natural disasters no concept has been so grievously violated as the concept of God itself. Paradoxically the violation of God is not the work of atheists but of theologians themselves, highlighting again the poverty of theology, whether fundamentalist or mainline.

One hears from some theologians the horrendous view that 26/12 was the expression of God's wrath upon Moslem, Hindu and Buddhist societies, although by some curious logic, they do not see 9/11 also as an expression of the same God's wrath upon Christendom!

Theologies that ascribe to God, wrath, vengeance, jealousy or anger, qualities which even at the human level would be sinful and unacceptable, are not only a contradiction of terms, but reflect the simplistic minds of those who propound them and constitute a blasphemy against God greater than any perpetrated by any atheist!

On the other hand, the Old Testament (OT) does make umpteen references to Jehovah God as given to these qualities, but these perceptions merely reflect the level of consciousness of the writers of the day, who tended to understand God and interpret him in anthropomorphic terms. One has only to read a few passages from the New Testament to discover a perception of God vastly different from the one portrayed in the OT,.
Even more pathetic is the view expressed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, that natural disasters such as the Tsunami undermine the veracity of God. This view exposes more the Archbishop's own veracity as a thinker than God's veracity as God!

The Archbishop's perplexity actually illustrates a perennial problem which has dogged theology for 2005 years, which is its lack of a coherent doctrine of pain and suffering. While Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism explain pain and suffering with much greater credibility, Christian theology continues to remain trapped within a paradigm of God which is anthropomorphic and primitive, having to source pain and suffering either to God, which is a contradiction or to the devil, which bestows on him a power greater than God. Then, is it a wonder that theology stands naked and impotent when it has to explain natural disasters? >

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