Views of God and the Corona Virus

Few things caused me to become more upset in the early days of the pandemic, than people stating their opinions about how God and the pandemic were related.

The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that these views reinforce what I wrote back in February of 2019 when I asked: “What on earth is a ‘Biblical Worldview’?”

Surely if there was such a thing as a “Biblical Worldview”, then there would be consensus on how God and the Corona Virus are interrelated.

But as Chaplain Mike noted, also back in February of 2019:

“Making the Bible the sole authority for the church has demonstrably not led to ecclesiastical unity formed around the clear teaching of scripture. Two groups may both hold to the authority of the Bible while coming to polar opposite conclusions with regard to how to interpret it. The Bible, as it has come to us, is just not that simple and easily understood. It is open to a plethora of interpretations, and the history of Protestant schism proves this convincingly.”

Michael Spencer had something similar to say in 2008:

So today the “Biblical Worldview” and “Biblical values” movement is busy hammering away and unity and simplicity by seeking to make sure that everyone who says they are a Christian has the same opinion on everything, votes the same way, worships the same way, talks the same way and consumes the same evangelical culture.

As I was exploring the topic of God and the Corona virus, I was struck by how different many of the Christian positions are. Others opinions are nuanced versions of the same thing. I was tempted to list out all the different views and offer critiques of each, but instead I think I will just leave you with some quotations under general headings, and give you a free-for-all in the comments to support or criticize the various views. Please use a modicum of respect when doing so, in order to keep the conversation civil.

Here is a summary of some of the different ideas that I read or heard:

God causes it as a punishment for sin…

“All natural disasters can ultimately be traced to sin.” Robert Jeffries

“God is the Lord of history; not a sparrow falls to the ground without His consent. Of course the coronavirus is a punishment from God: all our sufferings are the consequence of sin; for us sinners, they are a just penalty for our sin; and God has complete control over what happens and how it affects us. Both testaments of Scripture are full of examples of this, and it is equally fully reflected in the liturgy.” Joseph Shaw – Life Site News

A variant to this is God does not cause it but allows it. (Quite frankly in the end I don’t really see the difference between the two.)

God causes/allows it for both judgement and to send a message…

All natural disasters — whether floods, famines, locusts, tsunamis, or diseases — are a thunderclap of divine mercy in the midst of judgment, calling all people everywhere to repent and realign their lives. John Piper

God is not using it for judgement but has a message for us in it…

“You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.” Pope Francis

God causes it to send a message (judgement not necessarily implied)…

Nearly two-thirds of religious Americans feel the coronavirus pandemic is “God telling humanity to change the way we are living,” according to the study.
That statement held more truth for black and Hispanic Americans — 73% of which and 65% of which said they agreed. About 48% of white Americans concurred. – Charlotte Observer

God has caused or allowed it for an unknown purpose…

God is sovereign. There is a reason for this coronavirus. Ultimately that may or may not be revealed to us. – Family member

God protects us from it…

More than half of the respondents polled also said they believed God would protect them from infection. – Charlotte Observer

There is a meaning that can be found in it…

At almost the same time as my near-fatal heart attack, my sister lost her (just) married 22-year-old daughter to a malignant brain tumor. If I am going to thank God for my recovery—as I do—what shall I say about God to my sister? And what shall I say about God when it comes to a pandemic like coronavirus, where we can see no positive dimension whatsoever, only unrelieved disaster?…

Perhaps the coronavirus might function as a huge loudspeaker, reminding us of the ultimate statistic: that one out of every one of us dies. If this induces us to look to the God we may have ignored for years, but who wore a crown of thorns in order to bring us back into relationship with Him and into a new, unfractured world beyond death, then the coronavirus, in spite of the havoc it has wreaked, will have served a very healthy purpose. – John Lennox

Incidentally, this is the same author whose statements about Biblical worldviews prompted my post in 2019.

God is not the author of it…

The argument that suffering is a punishment for sins, a still common approach among some believers (who usually say that God punishes people or groups that they themselves disapprove of) [makes God out to be a monster]. But Jesus himself rejects that approach when he meets a man who is blind, in a story recounted in the Gospel of John: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” says Jesus. This is Jesus’s definitive rejection of the image of the monstrous Father. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus responds to the story of a stone tower that fell and crushed a crowd of people: “Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you.” – Father James Martin

God is with us through this as one who suffered in the form of Jesus…
This is my own personal view. I will be elaborating on it at length… next week.

The Corona virus is a response from the Earth (as a quasi God) rebelling against what we have done to her…

I had been sent a video my an Internet Monk reader who agreed with the message of the video. I have lost the link, but it wasn’t too hard to find others with similar views:

Idris Elba has suggested the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is the planet’s response to being “damaged” by humanity.

The Luther star recently revealed he tested positive for the virus and has been self-isolating with his wife, Sabrina Dhowre, who also tested positive.

In a video interview with Oprah Winfrey, the 47-year-old said it was “really obvious” to him that the outbreak is Earth’s response to being mistreated by humans.

God is a tool to be wielded by those opposed to our beliefs on it…
I don’t have a ready quote for this, but I talked about it at length last week. I would be interested in reading in the comments how you have seen this one played out.

So that sums up a number of the things I have been reading about God and the Corona Virus. As usual, your thoughts and comments are welcome. I look forward to an invigorating discussion!

64 thoughts on “Views of God and the Corona Virus

  1. Actually, I looked through the posts in this particular subthread and it was not actually mentioned when the Permian extinction occurred. You said that the duration of the extinction event itself was 60K +- 48K years in lebgth.

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  2. Basically it boils down to this:

    1) Everybody dies (that bit from the Fall), unless you were Elijah or Enoch. But then Lazarus died twice.

    2) Because of #1, one has to die of SOMETHING. For many, coronavirus is that something. Before that it was smallpox, plague, tuberculosis, etc.

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  3. I don’t remember that guy, But then I follow WW much anymore since they Jumped the Shark IMHO in their constant defense of WB. I guess standing up against church abuse makes someone a world-renowned expert in physics and electrical engineering. /sarc

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  4. God causes it as a punishment for sin…

    No, God causes it as a Punishment for The OTHER Guy’s SIN.

    One-two months ago, Wartburg Watch had a guy who was VERY into “God Sent Coronavirus as a Punishment for SIN”. To the point he was going into multi-page sermons loaded with proof texts about God Sending Pestilence. (Only one from the NT was from Revelation.) All who didn’t agree were dismissed as “Scoffers”. Around the time he disappeared from TWW, he’d flat-out made it THE Litmus Test of Salvation, that all who “Scoffed” were NOT Saved.

    Oh, he claimed Private Revelation for all of this. At least four “visions” or “dreams” where Christ spoke to him in person. Including at least one “guided tour of Hell” vision. (Did not mention Adolf Hitler, who seems to be a top on every other tour.) In my church (RCC), claims of Private Revelation (usually a form of “Mary Channeling”) is THE characteristic way to flake out, so I tend to be skeptical of such claims in general.

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  5. Buddhism does not provide the necessary tools for resisting nationalism in the modern world. This is where it has tended to intersect with fundamentalism, and fanaticism; its religious philosophy can get mixed up in the quasi-religious aspects of nationalism, which is both fundamentalist and fanatical. That is a fault of, a deficiency in, Buddhism. But isn’t it true that Stoicism as a philosophy did not prevent ancient Roman Stoics from fully participating in the evils of Empire? Didn’t it for instance provide Marcus Aurelius with the tools not only to be at peace with his role as Emperor, in which he was involved in many inhumane actions, but to see it as part of fate, which he could not change and had a moral duty to fulfill as dispassionately as he could? Empire was the besetting sociopolitical evil of his age just as nationalism is of ours. But that does not mean that either Stoicism or Buddhism have no tools for helping one navigate the vicissitudes of life in a constructive and ethical way.

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  6. Are you sure there were no fundamentalist Stoics back in the day? It was after all a philosophy with religious aspects.

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  7. I would say that if you have an easy answer to the question it is wrong. One hundred percent wrong. I have a Jungian type answer that’s too involved to go into at this late hour and I feel fairly confident in it but wouldn’t stake my life on it at this point in my journey.

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  8. Same here in the Kent, WA area.

    While I wasn’t necessarily “crushed” when they closed — the market of supply and demand tells me there was little demand for them — it was sad to see the impact of those closures on owners/workers.

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  9. –> “I fear I have said this before, but there seems to be a reluctance to allow for Covid-19 to be doing its own virusy thing without it all being about us.”

    Agreed. And I KNOW that I have said this before, but I think we tend to over-spiritualize things which have no true spiritual element, under-spiritualize things that DO have a spiritual element, and the truth is we have no idea which is which.

    Good comment, Iain; and good post, Mike Bell!

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  10. I personally would date it from the beginning of human civilization and the quickly developing technologies brought to bear by that. But that’s not the way scientists are calculating it.

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  11. OTOH, it is widely considered that we were the ones who hunted the woolly mammoths, mastodons, woolly rhinos, etc, into extinction – and probably wiped out the Neanderthals as well. So maybe it’s been going on longer than we think…

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  12. Reading further, I see that the Anthropocene is considered to have started around 250 years ago. Since that’s the scientific consensus for the start of the sixth great extinction, I have to accept it rather than dating it from the start of human civilization or earlier.

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  13. I fear I have said this before, but there seems to be a reluctance to allow for Covid-19 to be doing its own virusy thing without it all being about us. I would agree at the universal level that the fact we are parked inside a reality which we don’t really understand and which largely gets on with no regard to our human needs and interests is in some sense a consequence of sin, picking on one particular part of it just getting on and doing what it naturally does and trying to make it a personal attack on us is just egocentrism run wild.
    Yes God does everything and there is a point to everything he does, but slicing out one little thing out of the whole and deciding it has only one purpose, easily discerned and discrete, and that it’s all about us, and indeed the same for everyone, is often pure folly.

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  14. The extinction event that marked the end of the Permian age is estimated to have taken approximately 60,000 years, give or take 48,000 years. If you consider the current extinction event to have started with the genesis of homo sapiens — which I think is a fair thing to do — that’s about 300,000 years; if you would prefer to calculate it from the beginning of human civilization — which also might be fair — that’s about 5000 years ago, close to the figure at the lower end of the margin of error for the Permian age extinction event.

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  15. wonderful how, when the ‘virus’ forced international ‘sheltering’ for a time, how the summer sky seems more blue

    almost like the Earth says ‘thank you for giving me a break’

    it won’t last, we know, but to see it for a time IS wonderful

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  16. Within the last five years I witnessed the demise of the last two Christian bookstores (at least I knew of) in the area, one north and one east of Seattle. Toward the end it seemed to me that the number of books for sale decreased while the number of kitsch, T-shirts and coffee mugs increased.

    It was probably for the best, I could never seem to find books I wanted anymore. The Evangelical Boarder Patrol had deemed many authors no longer “politically correct” so the stores did not carry them. Half-price books had a better selection.

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  17. Except what we are doing is forcing the change in decades, whereas naturally it takes tens of millennia.

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  18. Everything was natural about the previous extinction events, and the widespread destruction of the existing environment that went along with them.

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  19. YES,nature takes its course,

    unless . . . . . polution, global warming, deforestation of ecosystems, on and on . . .

    nothing ‘natural’ about the human destruction of the environment, no

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  20. Strong agreement on your Stoic comment. They are really good at bring the kind of perspective that imparts peace.

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  21. An excellent post, ATW. Mega-narratives are generally rhetorical devices created to further a pre-existing agenda. Not declaring the agenda is the real problem though, and this is the real issue.

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  22. Everything appears to be Penrecostal, or Pentecostalizing, down here, although tongues or Spirit baptism dont get the play they used to. Its mostly manifested in the peppy music and informal attire. o.

    I went to a Stanley family megachurch campus a while back. It was a very White experience

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  23. > And I for one am shedding no tears.

    Same. I have a lingering fondness, perhaps nostalgia, in my heart for better times. But same; the light of their lamp dwindled to darkness years ago.

    > I suspect the shuttering of the JJSs…

    And rising rents; they are as much a victim of ‘gentrification’ as anyone else. As their market dwindled – losing ~30% of the kids in every cycle – and the prices crept ever upward.

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  24. None of which, I think, should be blamed on God, either punishing us or trying to tell us something, or on human behavior at all. Nature happens.

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  25. > historical connections with Campus Crusade, Navigators, and Inter-Varsity

    I have some of those.

    Down here, south of the closing border, the old “non fundamentalist” evangelical is on the brink of extinction. Driven out or relabeled as the new tide has risen.

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  26. Maybe because of my historical connections with Campus Crusade, Navigators, and Inter-Varsity, and the lifelong friendships I made through those groups means that my present reality is a little different from yours. At least up here in Canada the old “non fundamentalist” evangelical is still very much in evidence and probably half of my facebook friend list would put themselves in that camp.

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  27. “If I want to purchase a Bible, I either do it online or at a Barnes and Noble. The Christian bookstores are all shuttered.”

    And I for one am shedding no tears. I always, while I *was* buying theology books, bought them from catalogs or through Borders (damn I miss Borders). I only entered Jesus Junk Stores under duress.

    Although – I suspect the shuttering of the JJSs is due more to the acceleration of online ordering, and of evangelicalism’s anti-intellectualism in general, than any sort of awakening among the bookstores’ once-customers.

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  28. Southern Baptist Convention, although they like to hide their allegiance behind a wall of “worship centers”, ‘family life centers”, ‘community’ churches, etc. Then there are also, in your neck of the woods, the CRs, and in mine the PCA and PCA-ish Presbyterians, where you will find genteel elderly women who use the word ‘colored’ unironically. Some Missouri Synod Lutherans approach this level of distinctivelessness, but no Wisconsin.

    The whole panoply of 70s Evangelicalism that I grew up with; the Campus Crusade 4-Spiritual-Lawyers, the Bibley-ibley-ibley Navigators and the demi-thoughtful Inter-Varsity types with their 4 views on every conceivable doctrine, all of it seems to me to have entirely vanished as under the wave that covered fabled Lyonesse.

    If I want to purchase a Bible, I either do it online or at a Barnes and Noble. The Christian bookstores are all shuttered.

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  29. Fundamentalists and Pentecostals: This big tent goes back to Billy Graham. He was from a fundamentalist background, and never strayed from its theology, but he lacked the instinct to circle the wagons and patrol the boundaries. He was happy to play well with others. This is very unusual among fundamentalists of any sort. Combine that with his charisma and you have a genuine phenomenon. The key to understanding what “Evangelical” means today is that it is a combination of Pentecostals and what used to call themselves “Fundamentalists.” The Fundamentalists in turn were a faction within Evangelicalism, but the non-Fundamentalist Evangelicals were cast into the darkness of “mainline Protestantism” in the Great Reclassification of the mid-20th century. This in turn opened up the word “fundamentalist” to mean “those crazies, not nice people like us.” The dirty little secret among modern Evangelicalism is that the Pentecostal side is where the growth is. I suspect this accounts for the rise of neo-Calvinism as a circling of wagons in reaction. See also, Falwell Jr. and Liberty University for a major institution quietly making the switch to the Pentecostal side.

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  30. > Reagan-ish Republicans

    I have not met such a specimen in a long time. Conservatives, at least in my region, have settled out into camps of Lofty National Review types [you’ll drown in the flood of words they use regarding everything], Tea-Party Nihilists [bathtub drowning, et al], and Gun-Totting-White-Supremacists. 😦

    Does “mainline Evangelicals” mean something other than Non-Denominational?

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  31. > 99.9% of the time, you can translate “God has a purpose in all of this” as “I am
    > closer too Him/know the Bible better/more Spirit-directed than you are” and you
    > can completely ignore it.

    Yep. Or, charitably, one can respond: “It’s Ok that you don’t know what to say, pablum is not required. Present silence is enough.” But that requires a lot of personal grit.

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  32. There was a rush for the least common denominator here in the 70s and the 80s, as soon as it became apparent that butts in the pews roughly coincided with ballots in the box. You can stretch a wide tent across similar ideologies but the edges tend to fray. There is little love lost between the Pentecostals/Charismatics and the more phlegmatic Evangelicals. I find their coinherence to be more a matter of politics than dogma, although I’d be the first to admit I don’t meet many non-Pentecostal Evangelicals these days.

    The Pentecostal church I attend every other week with my wife has flown full-tilt into the movement for racial reconciliation, something they have been plugging away at quietly for twenty years before it became popular. Unfortunately, it seems to be a fertile garden for the planting of QAnon’s noxious seeds, and not all of the heads they are germinating in are white.

    Are the mainline Evangelicals still for the most part Reagan-ish Republicans? That was my impression last I checked.

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  33. –> ““Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it.
    He came to fill it with His Presence.”
    (Paul Claudel)”

    For me, the addition of the following thought is what moves me into total trust in God:
    “He came to experience it all, even up to and through the experience of (a quite painful) death.”

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  34. “God is with us through this as one who suffered in the form of Jesus…”

    I can see this view also, Mike.
    There is a saying in my own Church, this:

    “Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it.
    He came to fill it with His Presence.”
    (Paul Claudel)

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  35. The concept of a “Biblical worldview” is inherently flawed. The early reformers thought that such a thing was possible. They thought that once you strip away centuries of accretion on doctrine, sola scriptura would solve all problems. This has not been a tenable position since the Marburg Colloquy of 1529. Anyone pushing the idea since then is either disingenuous or uninformed.

    The modern White American Evangelical Protestant version depends on the claim of reading scriptural “literally,” or at least its weaker cousin, reading scripture’s “plain meaning.” There is no such thing for any non-trivial text, even when we aren’t talking about something written millennia ago. If there were, the courts would have a lot less work interpreting statutes and contracts. The interesting question to me is where Evangelicalism got the notion that there is such a thing? It isn’t found among the early Evangelicals such as Wesley. I believe that it is a product of the opening of the frontier with American independence. There was a mad rush westward. The various churches followed behind. They did all respond the same. The ethnic churches (e.g. Lutheranism) were carried with the migrants, who considered their church an intrinsic part of their ethnic identity. But for vast body of anglophone settlers, the churches had to scramble to catch up to them. Missionary societies were formed in the east to sent missionaries west.

    The problem for some churches was that seminary training was expensive and the supply was limited. The Baptists were the big winners simply because they didn’t worry about such things. There was no such thing as Baptist doctrine beyond adult baptism and generic cultural Christianity. Costly and time-consuming training was beside the point. They would slap a license to preach on anyone who felt moved to head west. The Methodists had stricter standards, so they tended to lag behind the Baptists. This is why through much of the region the default country church was Baptist, while the Methodist churches were in the towns.

    When you have untrained preachers with no doctrinal constraints, the notion of a “literal” reading or a “plain meaning” follows naturally. If, after all, it was any harder than that, who would send this guy out into the world preaching?

    The next piece to the puzzle is that now you have Baptist preachers swarming the frontier. Which ones are the most successful? Dedication and charisma count, of course. But the really winning formula is to tell people what they want to hear. Why not? If you aren’t constrained by actual theology, there isn’t any reason not to. And number of butts in pews as a measure of success is not new.

    The final piece is the great reclassification of the mid-20th century, when the non-fundamentalist Evangelical churches that insisted on education and doctrine were reclassified as “mainline,” leaving “Evangelical to the fundamentalists, followed by, in a curious development highly contingent on the personality of Billy Graham, the Pentecostals being reclassified as also being “Evangelical.”

    Put this all together and you have modern White American Evangelical Protestantism.

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  36. At this particular juncture, I find the words of the Stoics more comforting than the babble of 99.9% of Christians, including the Christians on this board.

    When dealing with God, we have to admit to ourselves that most of the time we don’t know what He is up to. He does not share our counsels with us, and at primitive level of spiritual attainment His activities appear to be as random and purposeless as Brownian motion or the decay of radium atoms. 99.9% of the time, you can translate “God has a purpose in all of this” as “I am closer too Him/know the Bible better/more Spirit-directed than you are” and you can completely ignore it.

    Indeed, an Orthodox elder (I think it was Sophrony of Essex, but I’m not sure) was begging for the resurrection of use of the concept ‘luck’ among Christians, since the appropriation of the term ‘Providence’ was nine parts presumption on their part.

    The Stoics are very good helping a body deal with both good and bad fortune, and I am glad to remake their acquaintances.

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  37. is there any ‘good’ God might bring out of all of this trouble?

    what will fundamentalist-evangelical ‘christians’ learn about their ‘faith’ as they observe the workings of their politically powerful ‘annointed one of God’? is that a mirror for THEM? to examine who they REALLY are?

    or the pandemic itself, bringing with it insecurity and fear and loss of employment and isolation and a reduction of ‘the good life’ we had so openly taken for granted as our MAGA government tore innocent infants from their mothers’ arms and place them in sub-standard facilities without means to bathe or even the provision of clean diapers????

    I don’t know if any ‘good’ comes from all this trouble, but if we are no longer so ‘smug’ and self-satisfied that we could ‘look away’ at the carnage of the most basic of human rights: the right of a mother to hold her baby in a land where she had sought refuge;
    then I can see ‘something’ there of value,
    if only that we are brought ‘down’ from that smugness and must now, finally, consider others, or we all perish of that sickness that makes people ‘look away’ from the sufferings of the innocent for no other reason than that they can

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  38. > for the first week, when they sat with Job and wept with him in silence

    Well, that gets boring. 🙂 😦

    > Then they started trying to explain … and it all went to hell.

    Yep.

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  39. “While I am Officially here with this one, I am also aware that it requires torturing the meaning of “with”.”

    He was with us when He was incarcerate, and *should* be with us via the mercy and care of other people. If you overspiritualuze it, you get into trouble.

    “Explaining the suffering and needs of those right in front of him was not Jesus’ MO, he did something.”

    Job’s comforters actually were comforters – for the first week, when they say with Job and wept with him in silence. Then they started trying to explain why Job was suffering, and it all went to hell.

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  40. > none of the standard explanations, the theodicies, explanatory enough; they all fall short of the goal

    If it can’t predict the explanation isn’t useful. Otherwise what is The Goal?

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  41. > You muck around with the ecosystem

    Or don’t muck around and the Volcano still blows and wipes out your village. Or the lake burps a giant cloud of methane and your children all suffocate. Or the tidal wave from some undersea earthquake sweeps your home away…

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  42. > God causes it as a punishment for sin…

    Nah. The sins being punished are all so carefully selected [insert sexual ‘evidence’ of choice here], or so broad [like “consumerism”] as to be near meaningless.

    > God causes/allows it for both judgment and to send a message…

    Isn’t this just a version of the first one? Also, he is GOD, if he wanted to send a message why not just send a message? The purpose of this message is to create a role for the practitioners of Priestcraft.

    > God is not using it for judgment but has a message for us in it…

    A message encoded in pandemic death and economic turmoil – by which we mean anxiety, hunger, homelessness, and not being able to afford medication. The difference between such an encoding and “judgment”? This one is a cowards version of the first.

    > God causes it to send a message (judgment not necessarily implied)…

    Again, all powerful God, why not just send a message? Put an e-mail in every INBOX on the planet! If this is how God sends messsages, then he sucks.

    > God has caused or allowed it for an unknown purpose

    This is word salad; it is making a place for God, because that feels culturally necessary, while not saying anything at all.

    > God protects us from it

    These people are mentally ill.

    > There is a meaning that can be found in it

    What is the difference between finding meaning *IN* something and casting meaning *UPON* something?

    And the whole God’s “loudspeaker”/”megaphone” thing… I suppose he might need that for the very narrow slice of humanity which can exist in temporary denial of their constat peril. I do not want to sound “woke” – but it needs to be said that this reeks of Privilege.

    > God is with us through this as one who suffered …

    While I am Officially here with this one, I am also aware that it requires torturing the meaning of “with”.

    > The Corona virus is a response from the Earth (as a quasi God)

    Nah. This is a really weird – and disturbingly primitive – kind of anthropomorphization. It shares a lot in common with the first one, and may essentially be the same thing minus the Jesus Juke. Select sin-du-jour, drag-n-drop onto the folder titled “Calamity”.

    “””the outbreak is Earth’s response to being mistreated by humans.””” Not so much a “response” as a consequence of stupidity – Humans know that wet markets in urbanized areas are a bad idea, yet we due them anyway because Culture.

    > God is a tool to be wielded by those opposed to our beliefs on it

    Yep, God is the ultimate rhetorical device.

    It represents the largest shift in my belief over my life so far: mega-narratives are garbage. They all involve careful framing and cherry picked evidence. Whether it is the cycles of society [insert mandatory reference to the “Fall of Rome”] or God’s Judgment or “obvious” Moral Decline. I can’t get behind the specifics of the world being a manifestation of underlying currents – when all that thought consistently fails to produce anything predictive. Reality is an aggregation of specifics, bottom up, not top down. Mega-narratives, despite all the effort poured into them, are Lazy. Because determining What-To-Do from Specifics – that’s hard work. My observation is that Mega-Narratives allow people to hand-wave away the dilemmas around them. Explaining the suffering and needs of those right in front of him was not Jesus’ MO, he did something.

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  43. I’ll agree with you on that. Destroy the natural habitat of creatures, and you drive them into closer contact with humans, which may, if you’re unlucky, lead to the presence of animal diseases in people, some of them with major consequences–AIDS, COVID-19, SARS, and others throughout the ages. And then there’s climate change. If you pollute the air and water, bad things are likely to happen to the planet. Bad from our human point of view, anyway. Over vast spans of time, something else will arise to exploit whatever conditions we leave behind.

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  44. ” I find none of the standard explanations, the theodicies, explanatory enough; they all fall short of the goal, and taken together they contradict each other and fall short together.”

    Agree. Taken together they constitute the sum total of human wishful thinking.

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  45. As far as climate change goes, I agree 100%. Coronavirus? We’ll, we’ve been swapping viruses with our near neighbors in nature since time immemorial. Mostly it’s harmless… Sometimes not. This time, we rolled a ‘4’ (but at least we didn’t roll a ‘1’…)

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  46. More than half of the respondents polled also said they believed God would protect them from infection.

    I have a hard time relating to such a view, and people espousing it, since they seem to me to be detached from reality. Were more than half the respondents Christian Scientists?

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  47. Personally, I’m of the natural consequences school of thought. You muck around with the ecosystem, and things will go wrong, sometimes catastrophically.

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  48. I don’t know how the two, novel coronavirus and God, are related, just as I don’t know how suffering in general and God are related. It’s way beyond my pay grade. I find none of the standard explanations, the theodicies, explanatory enough; they all fall short of the goal, and taken together they contradict each other and fall short together. Christ provides a light, his words and model, for how I should conduct myself in suffering, the suffering of myself and others, and my job is to follow that light as my guide as best I can. That will have to suffice.

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