Thursday, December 30, 2004
Avoiding glib explanations
To my mind one of the best newspapers in the world is the Guardian in the UK. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/) I log on every morning to get my news and to read commentaries that I can count on to be well written and stimulating. Of course, sometimes I come across an article whose point of view I find troubling and that was the case on Tuesday. Martin Kettle wrote an article entitled, "How can religious people explain something like this?" He was referring, needless to say, to the recent tsunami disaster. The great religious traditions, however, have never offered explanations for such events. That such things happen is assumed rather than justified. And so the response of faith is not to ask, "Why did this happen?" but rather "How can I help?". I was pleased, therefore, to see a letter to the editor the next day that spoke to the authentic response of faith. I commend it to you:
God preserve us from religious people who attempt to "explain" the tsunami disaster (How can religious people explain something like this?, December 28). Explanations are based on theories, and to theorise about suffering is to degrade those who suffer. Belief in God enables us to respond to disasters such as this, but not to trump scientific explanations with moral ones. However, people of faith look to a horizon beyond the limitations of scientific enquiry and secular morality. It is a horizon at the limits of time and space beyond which eternity provides a perspective which might yet make sense of what science can only explain.
Bishop of Lincoln