22,000 Dead So Far in Myanmar

by Rapunzel 38 Replies latest jw friends

  • Rapunzel

    According to the latest figures, there were 22,000 poor souls who lost their lives as a result of the cyclone in Myanmar (Burma). In my estimation, in the end, the final tally will anywhere from 35,000 to 40,000 dead, along with about another 50,000 displaced and homeless. For those who know nothing of Myanmar (Burma), it is truly a "basket case" of a country. It is a country ruled by a vicious military junta - a collective of brutal, sadistic, paranoid thugs. And, no, I'm not talking about Bush and his administration; I'm talking about another collective of brutal, sadistic, paranoid thugs. Another collective of paranoid thugs who exert total control of one of the poorest nations on earth. My point is that those more than 50,000 people who will find themselves displaced are, in effect, screwed. As the Bible says, many of those now living in Burma "will envy the dead." Even if the military sadists in control of Myanmar were to want to help their people [which is not the case], they would still lack any and all means to do so. In the coming days, weeks, and months, there will be tens of thousands dying of disease, starvation, and dehydration [Maybe it's hard for people in North America to imagine, but typhoons and cyclones in Asia disrupts and destroy both water and food supply. Crops are washed away, and potable water is contaminated. As a result, there develop diseases such as cholera, dysentry, and malaria.]

    And I wonder, where could God be now?

    There are people who will say: "But, what happened in Burma is not God's fault! That cyclone was not a moral evil; it was a natural evil!" However, in my opinion, natural evil is moral evil; in my mind, there is no distinction between moral and natural evil. In my mind, the eistence of both moral and natural evil precludes the existence of God, or at least the existence of God as God is conceived in traditional theology - both benevolent and omnipotent.

    According to Lactantius, Epicurus went straight to the heart of the matter, which is:

    1.) Either God wanted to eliminate evil and could not

    2.) Or he could and did not want to

    3.) Or he neither could nor wanted to

    4.) Or he could and wanted to

    This could be termed the tetralemma of religion. If option number one is the case, then God is impotent. If option number two is the case, God is evil. If option number three is the case, God is both impotent and evil. Which leaves option number 4 - the only hypothesis which corresponds to the cherished, traditional concept of an all-powerful and benevolent God. This leads to the question: "Where does evil come from, and why does God do nothing to eliminate it?

    In his Theodicy, Leibnitz asks: "If God exists, whence evil? If God does not exist, whence good?"

    "Theodicy," a phrase first coined by Leibnitz, refers to the problem of the existence of evil in the world. The term is based on the Greek words theos ["god"] and dike [justice]. I find the juxtaposition of the words God and justice to be ironic - an oxymoron, in fact. As the French philosopher Emile-Auguste Chartier [also called the pseudonym, "Alain"] said: "Justice does not exist, which is why we need to create it."

    To conclude, let me quote Prometheus who exclaimed : "I hate all the gods."

  • BurnTheShips

    God is omnipotent in theory, but not in effect.

  • Rapunzel

    BTS - That's like my saying: "I'm a millionaire in theory, but not in effect." Should I, or should I not, infer sarcasm in your response?

  • BurnTheShips
    Should I, or should I not, infer sarcasm in your response?

    You should not infer sarcasm. To use your example, I could have a million dollars but not be able to use them at the moment, perhaps I am far from an ATM, or I do not have checks. Perhaps I am stranded on Gilligan's Island and I am the millionaire. In effect I would not be a millionaire, even if I had the money with me, as there is nothing to buy.

    I could also be able to afford to hire a hit squad to rescue a captive but the rescue would cause more damage than it would correct. Also, I could have a million million dollars, but no amount of money will make 2+2=5, or create a square circle.


  • snowbird
    And I wonder, where could God be now?

    Taking note of every minute detail so that in His time He can restore that which was lost?


  • hillary_step


    You should not infer sarcasm. To use your example, I could have a million dollars but not be able to use them at the moment, perhaps I am far from an ATM, or I do not have checks. Perhaps I am stranded on Gilligan's Island and I am the millionaire. In effect I would not be a millionaire.

    How would you apply this to the question of natural and unnatural evil and Gods existence? You suggest that God is 'omnipotent in theory', yet seem to also suggest that his capabilities are compromised due to situational issues.

    It is Tuesday, so I am not quite sure what you believe today, but I would be interested to read your rationalization. ;)





    Interesting post Rapunzel. A couple of questions:

    1. How do you know if something is evil? Would you not have to have good to compare it against?

    2. How do you know what good is?

    3. What do we use as our basis of judging good and evil?

    4. If the basis of judging good or evil is our feelings, then good and evil are simply preferences, are they not?

    This debate happened right after the tsunami that struck southeast asia. The best response I recall was by a Jewish rabbi who said that God allows these tragedies in order for His love to be manifested by His followers. I have not able to find that citation in the relatively short period of time I have between classes. I will continue to look.

  • Alpaca

    Hi All,

    There is no questioning that the disaster in Myanmar is tragic on a monumental scale.

    However, to characterize a natural event as "evil" is probably not so useful in trying to understand our world and how it works. Cyclones/Hurricanes/Typhoons are no more evil than a carnivorous animal that kills other animals to feed itself and its offspring. For both tropical storms and carnivorous animals it is just the way nature has unfolded. In fact, tropical storms and weather systems are an absolutely necessary natural mechanism for redistributing heat on the planet. Without these systems the tropics would quickly overheat and regions that are now temperate would probably be uninhabitable because of desertification.

    Any "evil" in nature stems from the way that humans deal with nature. In the Caribbean, where structures have been built for hundreds of years to withstand 200+ mph winds, these kinds of storms are just part of life. The tragedy in Myanmar is an example of how poor planning (by the government) and inequitable wealth distibution have limited the options that people have to provide safe and secure homes for themselves. Unfortunately, this is a harbinger of things to come.

    As the world's population continues to spiral out of control and climate change begins to accelerate, these kinds of disasters are going to become commonplace in the decades ahead. In fact, it is probably safe to say that these kinds of disasters will become so common that we won't suffer any more long-term alarm than is produced by a major airline disaster today. Approximately 75% of the world's population lives within 60 km of a coast. Rising sea level and a hotter planet are a perfect recipe for a lot of death, pain and suffering.

    A geologist's perspective.


  • BurnTheShips

    HS, in a sense, I am thinking that yes they are compromised--at least from our perspective. It depends on how we define omnipotence:

    1. Y is absolutely omnipotent means that Y "can do everything absolutely. Everything that can be expressed in a string of words even if it can be shown to be self-contradictory," Y "is not bound in action, as we are in thought by the laws of logic."[9] This position is advanced by Descartes. It has the theological advantage of making God prior to the laws of logic, but the theological disadvantage of making God's promises suspect. On this account, the omnipotence paradox is a genuine paradox, but genuine paradoxes might nonetheless be so.
    2. Y is omnipotent means "Y can do X" is true if and only if X is a logically consistent description of a state of affairs. This position was once advocated by Thomas Aquinas.[11] This definition of omnipotence solves some of the paradoxes associated with omnipotence, but some modern formulations of the paradox still work against this definition. Let X = "to make something that its maker cannot lift". As Mavrodes points out there is nothing logically contradictory about this; a man could, for example, make a boat which he could not lift.[12] It would be strange if humans could accomplish this feat, but an omnipotent being could not. Additionally, this definition has problems when X is morally or physically untenable for a being like God.
    3. Y is omnipotent means "Y can do X" is true if and only if "Y does X" is logically consistent. Here the idea is to exclude actions which would be inconsistent for Y to do but might be consistent for others. Again sometimes it looks as if Aquinas takes this position.[13] Here Mavrodes' worry about X= "to make something its maker cannot lift" will no longer be a problem because "God does X" is not logically consistent. However, this account may still have problems with moral issues like X = "tells a lie" or temporal issues like X = "brings it about that Rome was never founded."[9]
    4. Y is omnipotent means whenever "Y will bring about X" is logically possible, then "Y can bring about X" is true. This sense, also does not allow the paradox of omnipotence to arise, and unlike definition #3 avoids any temporal worries about whether or not an omnipotent being could change the past. However, Geach criticizes even this sense of omnipotence as misunderstanding the nature of God's promises.[9]
    5. Y is almighty means that Y is not just more powerful than any creature; no creature can compete with Y in power, even unsuccessfully.[9] In this account nothing like the omnipotence paradox arises, but perhaps that is because God is not taken to be in any sense omnipotent. On the other hand, Anselm of Canterbury seems to think that almightiness is one of the things that makes God count as omnipotent.[14]

    If God ordained Free Will, he ordained a domain where he cannot act by definition.

    It seems to me that it must be true that either God cannot or will not exert his power in the context of Free Will:

    If cannot, because Free Will cannot be forced and remain Free or a Will at all---it is because it is a logical impossibility, and logic binds even God on this plane, and he cannot make a square circle.

    If will not, it is because the violation of Free Will would be a greater evil than any suffering it would relieve. In which case we should be grateful despite doloris, as we live in the best of all possible worlds, in which we can be divine within our own domains of the Will. Perhaps even suffering has a salvific power that is not immediately evident to us, but I digress.

    Regarding natural evils, we only know how we would act in a given situation. If two men see a robbery in progress, and they vary among themselves in power, goodness and knowledge, it is reasonable to surmise that they will act differently. Let's assume equal power and goodness between the two characters but a variance in knowledge. The first man might know that he can easily wrestle the armed robber to the ground and defuse the threat. The second might know the same, but he also knows that the robber has a semtex belt and would choose to self detonate if he is physically restrained. The first man would take action, and the second would not.

    My point is that we cannot know how an omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent being should act without being all these things ourselves. How does such a being respond to a natural evil like the Myanmar disaster? We cannot know that a OOO being would prevent such a thing, we cannot even know the probability of such an action. Only human hubris could assume to know such a thing. The OOO being knows about the semtex belt. The human cannot.


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