WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE ARGUMENT ABOUT GODS
By Shyamon Jayasinghe,
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 Gods
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. Lets 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. Pirahaparans 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.