Adam Hamilton, a pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas, explains to the readers of HuffPo why a loving God made Japan suffer so much:
As a pastor, I’ve spent 25 years working through the problem of suffering with my congregation. While it is natural, in the midst of intense grief and loss, to blame both God and ourselves for terrible tragedies (God is punishing me for something I’ve done/God is punishing our nation for something we’ve done), these answers miss the mark. . .
. . . The answer to the question why is not to be found in a vengeful God who wreaks havoc on the human race. It is to be found in understanding that we live in a world of cause and effect. Our actions can have negative consequences for us or others. Others actions can have negative consequences for us. We also know that our bodies are not indestructible, and that there are genetic and external factors that affect our health. These can be exacerbated by our lifestyle and actions. And we know that there are forces of nature at work in our planet — atmospheric, environmental and geological — that are destructive. These very forces, which can be so destructive when human beings are in their path, are also essential to our planet being able to sustain life. Our actions as human beings can exacerbate these forces, but the forces themselves are a part of our planet’s essential operating system.
Why did the earthquake and tsunami occur in Japan? Was it the act of an angry God? No, it was the result of the movement and collision of the earth’s tectonic plates — a process driven by the earth’s need to regulate its own internal temperature. Without the process that creates earthquake, our planet could not sustain life.
So it’s all in God’s law of “cause and effect”: the Old Man is off the hook because all this disaster is simply a byproduct of the world he created. And, of course, He simply could not have created another type of world.
But even if you accept that the omnipotent God couldn’t cool the globe in a less malevolent way, Pastor Hamilton doesn’t himself believe in a world of cause and effect. If that were true, then Jesus wouldn’t have been the fruit of a virgin birth, and wouldn’t have survived three days after death. Those things require God’s intervention in the world. And if God can produce one parthenogenetic human, and bring him back to life, why couldn’t he have intervened to prevent earthquakes and tsunamis? The invocation of miracles at appropriate times (are prayers answered, too?) is inconsistent with a world in which everything happens according to a natural and physical “operating system.”
Perhaps the good pastor doesn’t realize that there is no “cause and effect” in the microscopic world, either. When an atom decays, there is, as far as we know, no “cause”. Quantum mechanics, supposedly created by God, also violates his world.
Chalk up another failed attempt at theodicy. (Perhaps Josh Rosenau can help out Hamilton here.) We all know that the world, and natural selection, operate precisely as one would expect if there were no theistic God. It’s incumbent on the faithful who rationalize bad and evil in this way to answer the following question:
What would our world be like if God had not created it, and it had arisen in a purely natural manner?
Now, pastor, about those other bugs in the “operating system”: AIDS, malaria, bubonic plague and the like . . . .