Why is it that insurances companies (for instance) describe natural disasters, like Christchurch's recent earthquake, as an 'act of God' but our religious leaders say that, actually, God wasn't responsible for the natural disaster that has befallen the city that you live in. God, apparently, wasn't being omnipresent at the time. Perhaps he was watching the footy or taking a nap.
At the memorial service in Christchurch on Friday various religious leaders (and, boy, wasn't there a lot of them?) told the crowd, and everyone watching on television, to trust in God, have faith in God and even thank God.
'Thank' God? For what exactly? Wiping out entire streets?
I don't pretend to be an expert on theology but I do know that one of the major differences between modern religion and the less 'sophisticated' tribal and folk religions of ancient days is that our predecessors didn't make excuses for God. If a disaster struck the community God didn't get excused for doing nothing to prevent it.
They thanked God for the good things that happened and blamed him for the bad things that happened. They played straight with God.
But, in these more 'enlightened' days, its a win-win situation for the man in the sky. He gets praised for the good things that happen in our lives but he isn't responsible for any of the bad things. God gets to eat his cake and keep it too!
How can this be? How come God is praised for performing miracles but is handed a 'get out of jail free' card for things like earthquakes and tsunamis? How come he only intervenes in the world when good things happen?
And why did our religious leaders in North Hagley Park on Friday lead the crowd in prayer to a God that stood idly by while half of Christchurch was flattened? I find that offensive to my intellect. Not to mention my sense of fair play.
Of course this knotty problem has kept theologians occupied for years and I'm not about to go into their intellectual gymnastics here.
None of their arguments explain away the double standard that is applied to God and some of the arguments are entirely reprehensible. Like the argument 'that God sometimes causes natural disasters as a judgment against sin.'
In the end what we can say for certain is that the idea that God should receive our gratitude for the good things that happen in life but should not be held accountable for the disasters is plainly nonsensical.