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WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE ARGUMENT ABOUT GOD’S WARNING?

By Shyamon Jayasinghe, Melbourne Writer

In the print and online media the world over, there has been considerable public discussion about the explanation for such a high magnitude disaster as Tsunami. A popular explanation was reported in the Lankaweb issue of the 14th of January. According to this report, Muhammed Faizeen of the Muslim Centre in Colombo has stated that Tsunami had been God’s warning to a misbehaving mankind.

High profile Christians in England have been more cautious. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Church of England, has said there is reason for people to be "deeply outraged" in the face of a disaster of such "paralysing magnitude." The Archbishop adds: "The question: `how can you believe in a God who permits suffering on this scale' is therefore very much around at the moment, and it would be surprising if it weren't — indeed it would be wrong if it weren't," he wrote in a newspaper article.

Similarly Jonathan Sacks, head of Britain's Jewish community, admitted that it was a "question of questions" for believers to answer the question: "How does God permit a tragedy such as the Indian Ocean tidal wave? How does he allow the innocent to suffer?"

Despite such expressed caution from high quarters, gentleman like Muhammed Faizeen have had their views gaining currency by the day. It would therefore be in the public good to explore the logical sustainability of such a proposition. Let’s call this argument the ‘warning argument’.

The criterion for any such effective warning would be as follows: (1) It must be addressed or applied to the target offender (2) Conversely, the warning should not cover the innocent (3) The warning must be something that has the ability to deter. (4) The warning must be just enough (and not more) as a deterrent. Any excess would, therefore, be tantamount to an offence by itself or a counter offence.

Looking at Tsunami, it is clear that the “warning” had been meted out to a preponderant number of innocents- babes in arms, innocent kids, the old and infirm etc. In fact, according to sample reasoning about one third of those affected are children.. On the other hand, huge numbers of persons we know to be offenders- mafia people, drug barons, robbers, paedophiles, cheaters etc have been left out of the disaster. Many of these persons who had been “saved” are in fact busy sexually abusing those who are in refugee camps; others are busy tearing the jewellery off corpses. Political criminals like the LTTE are snatching kids from refugee camps in order to coopt them to hate the Sinhalese and to fight in war. Pirahaparan’s kids are well ashore and are studying in foreign universities whereas he has blasted the future of vast numbers of innocent children, having snatched them away from weeping mothers. Pirahapiran himself, I am sure, is “saved” (according to the warning argument) “by God”. Thus the first two criteria re not met by Tsunami.

Since the warning has not been meted out to those who should have been warned it is not an event than can have any impact on the real offenders or potential offenders. The warning has missed the target. Hence the third criteria is not met.

The fourth criteria regarding the necessary scale of warning has, obviously, not been met either. Theoretically it can yet be argued that Tsunami had been a warning by God that failed. By definition, God (being omniscient, omnipotent, and perfect) cannot err. Hence, Tsunami could not have been His warning. Besides there are better ways a compassionate God can resort to in order to give a warning.


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