"Natural Disasters Require Our Help, Not Our Prayers" Times Leader 3/17/11 Letter to the Editor

I submitted the following Letter to the Editor to the Times Leader and it was published today. We need more rationality in these local papers...far too many writers write about glorifying God and how he's going to save the world. He's not.

For some reason, my 250-word letter was cut! I'll post the "full" 250-word version here instead.

Don't Pray for Japan, Donate Money

The recent devastation in Japan has led many well-meaning believers in God to pray, but their prayers are ultimately futile and display an obvious contradiction in their supernaturalistic worldview. Theists believe that God created the universe and that everything happens according to his will, but the reality of natural disasters serves as defeaters to both of these beliefs. We should not expect a universe plagued with earthquakes and other natural disasters if God exists; God could have easily designed the universe in a different manner. What, then, should we take from this information? Seeing patterns of disaster and realizing that the universe is ultimately indifferent to human life should lead us to the conclusion that belief in an omni-God is irrational.

Natural disasters have nothing to do a “fallen nature,” unless, of course, you believe that the way God made us is a license for us to suffer, but being made in a disordered condition and punished for it is quite sadistic. If you believe that “God has reasons beyond us,” you're forced to fall into utter moral skepticism and would have to also believe that rape, murder, and other actions might not be evil because “reasons are beyond us.” If God exists and does nothing, he's hardly loving because he can “snap his fingers” and make all the horror stop without effort.

Instead of praying to God, return your concerns to the natural world and donate money to charitable organizations such as the Red Cross.