The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

Australia’s “Biblical” Floods

with one comment

1.  Australian politicians have been describing Queensland’s floods as being of “Biblical” proportions.

2.  With the size of area that has been devastated, there will certainly be hundreds or thousands of people who look around and see their entire world as having been swept away in the floods, and it is only to be expected that they may equate today’s floods with the Biblical flood with which God destroyed the world.

3.  Of course, that episode ends with God’s promise not to destroy the world again by flood, and there may be many people today who regard that promise as having been broken by recent events.  The same would have been true of many victims of the Pakistan floods last year.

4.  There is a simple answer to accusations that God’s promise has been broken: the promise was only not to destroy the whole world, and there was no promise not to destroy part of it.

5.  That answer is as unsatisfactory as it is simple: if my entire village, every town I ever visited and all or most of my family have been destroyed by flood, how impressed am I going to be by being told that God’s promise is kept because Hendon is still okay?

6. It reminds me of Cecilia Jupe’s answer to the schoolmaster in Hard Times, that if one sailor in a hundred is drowned at sea the percentage of losses is 100%, if you happen to be that sailor’s mother.

7.  To put it another way, why should it matter to an Australian or Pakistani flood victim whether or not Hendon is still unaffected by the flood?

8.  And the answer to that, of course, is that it depends on how the inhabitants of Hendon behave towards the flood.

9.  If we simply ignore it, or get a transient thrill out of watching it on the television or computer, then our survivial is irrelevant to the victims, and so far as they are concerned God’s promise not to destroy the world has been broken for all practical purposes.

10.  But if we exert ourselves to reach out to victims of the floods, in all the various ways open to us in today’s shrinking world, then they can suddenly see the point of the promise that natural disasters will always leave some people in a position to help the victims.  God’s promise is meaningful only if we supply the meaning by committing ourselves to exert ourselves.  The rainbow that symbolises God’s promise not to renew the Biblical flood arches through the sky, and I cannot see for certain where it begins and ends – but that doesn’t stop me from setting off in the direction it shows to look for people who might need my help.

11.  We do not understand how or why natural disasters occur.  But we can understand that they are challenges and opportunities to assert universal brotherhood.


Written by Daniel Greenberg

January 3, 2011 at 9:49 am

One Response

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  1. Wonderful. What an impressive website!

    Bart Kotur

    July 6, 2011 at 12:46 pm

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