Few experiences generate intellectual work among mankind as natural disasters. Since the beginning of time, people have sought to explain the phenomena they experience with the cognitive tools of their time. Religion or the supernatural has been a recurrent branch to explain why earthquakes, tsunamis, or floods happen.
Thus, specialists and historians had compiled the philosophical discussions that earthquakes had generated over the centuries, especially after the 1700s when science was already a field of knowledge separated from religion. Earthquakes: Divine Punishment or Natural Phenomenon?
Imagine living in Lisbon, Portugal, on November 1st, 1755. It is Saturday, Day of the Dead, and an earthquake with Tsunami kills thousands of people leaving only the Protestant church of the town standing. What would you think? Is it similar to asking why it trembles in September in Mexico and specifically on the 19th?
At that time Leibniz’s Theodicy emerged. He reaffirmed in his work that the earthquake was more a test of faith and that this earth was the best because God created mankind here. While Voltaire refuted this argument, considering that if God was so good, he could not do so much harm to innocent people.
Let this serve as an example: believing scientists and those who question faith the most have been hard at work to answer the why of natural disasters. And an essential part of this discussion is Christianity, which has generally attributed such phenomena as divine punishments or instruments of destruction to “a new earth.”
Therefore, in the Judeo-Christian Bible, whether Protestant or Catholic, several passages can be found that its scholars have related to movements of the earth’s crust which, according to the religious Luciano Gonzalez, in his paper “The Bible, tectonic plates, volcanism, and earthquakes prophetic” gives a sample of these.
- Numbers 16 31-34: Selective trembling. He killed Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who had taken up arms against Moses, who revolted after the time they had been in the desert, leaving the riches that Egypt represented for them.
- 1 Samuel 14-15: The trembling felt when Jonathan, son of Saul, and his armor-bearer carried out the first slaughter against the Philistines.
- 1 Kings 19:11 The earthquake that allowed the prophet Elijah to leave for Horeb after Jezebel had sworn to kill him, as Ahab killed all the prophets.
- Matthew 27:51 The crucifixion of Christ. The moment of the death of Jesus Christ.
- Matthew 28:2 The resurrection of Christ. The earthquake was felt when an angel of God came down to remove the stone from the tomb of Jesus Christ.
- Luke 21: 11 The prophecy of Jesus Christ before the persecutions of his apostles.
- Acts 16:26 The earthquake that allowed Paul and Silas to escape from prison in
- Philippi for having cast a spirit of divination on a woman, and her owners used her to make money.
- Exodus 19 10-24 At Moses’ meeting with God on Mount Sinai.
- Revelation 6 12 The earthquake that will happen in the end times when the sixth seal is opened.
As can be appreciated through one of the most important religions of mankind, the discussions about whether natural phenomena are caused by divine matters or the effects of the earth will continue. In any case, we close this article with the phrase of the scholar of tectonic plates and faithful believer in creationism, Luciano Gonzalez:
“For me, it is very striking how God will use the same forces that have shaped the relief he has created for the final stage.” What do you think: divine punishment or natural phenomenon?