God and the NEPA flood

For those of you who are not aware, a devastating flood devastated the east coast of the United States and specifically impacted Northeastern Pennsylvania (where I live). During the flood coverage, newscasters, a state senator, and some residents of NEPA could not resist injecting God into the mix.

A newscaster on WBRE said "God works in mysterious ways" at 2:47 PM on Friday (10/9/11).

State senator John Yudichak (D) said "Hopefully the good Lord will protect us" on live TV. (Why a state senator is talking about 'the good Lord' on live TV is beyond me.)

Bishop Bambera of the Scranton Diocese said "For all who are suffering because of the flood and the damage it has caused, I pray for God's continued and [sic] protection and blessing over you" among other things.

On the Facebook page titled NEPA flood of 2011, some people have said "God is good. NEPA will get through this." and "The rainbow: signifies Gods promise to never flood the entire globe again (noahs arc). Keep God in your hearts! Hes with us all."

I've commented on these issues before arguing that natural evil serves as a defeater (should make you give a belief up) of belief in an all-powerful, all-loving, and all-knowing god in various posts. This, also, I think, is one of the most evident and well-known objections to belief in an omni-god that many theists have likely considered. The problem, though, is that theists make excuses for God such as "God is mysterious," "God's ways are higher than ours," and "There must be some 'greater good' that is achieved by natural disasters."

I responded to the two posters on the NEPA flood of 2011 page:

Marcy and Melanie, it is profoundly absurd to posit that after a great deal of our region was absolutely devastated there is an all-loving, all-good, and all-powerful God who exists (I am assuming this is what you believe, but please correct me if I am wrong). 'Natural evil' that is a result of the laws of this universe which you presumably believe God designed is incompatible with an all-loving, all-good, and all-powerful being. If there were an omni-god, one should not expect egregious disasters like this to happen and a planet that is quite hostile to our being. Instead, we see exactly what one would expect if there were no omni-God: natural disasters and a planet that is hostile to our being.

What reasons can an omni-God possibly have for allowing such a disaster like this and more importantly, creating the laws of the universe that dictate natural disasters will happen [I'm not really interested in why he allowed this to happen, but rather why he created the universe in such a manner.]? If you or I were to be omni-powerful and create the a universe, I would wager that this would not be the result from our work. Might it be the case that "God is mysterious," "God's ways are higher than ours," or "There must be some 'greater good' that can only be attained through natural diasters?" All of these defenses fail quite profoundly.

If you believe all three of these things, you should either be happy that our region was devastated (because God is good and logically only good actions would flow from God or otherwise be dictated by him) or descend into utter moral skepticism where you could not say that any action is bad because it might be part of God's plan. Perhaps, to remain consistent, theists should say "Well, this might be part of God's plan, so I can't be angry here and this is needed for my salvation or some other end." This, though, fails when considering an all-good being and an all-powerful being because God could have such 'greater goods' without causing billions of dollars in property damage and killing people.

Melanie, if God were good, this disaster would have never happened in the first place.

Marcy, if God really were with us all, don't you think that this should have never happened in the first place or that he would stop it? If I had a personal relationship with you, loved you, loved humanity, were all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing, designed the universe, etc, I would never have designed the universe in such a manner and if I did for some reason (which would make no sense), I would have stopped this flood. Imagine, by analogy, that there was some sort of superhero in NEPA who can, at a finger snap, magically cause the flood waters to go down and have prevented this flood. God, presumably, can do this and much more. If this superhero were in NEPA and he did nothing to stop the flood, we would consider him/her to be an utter monster...so why not consider God to be a monster, rebuke God, etc? Why make the excuses?

This disaster clearly showed us that faith proved nothing concerning this flood. All of the prayers in the world/this region did nothing to stop this flooding and other natural disasters. What really mattered, though, was the effort of humans, minus any supernatural concerns, to help their neighbors, report the news, build the levees, sandbag, etc.