Human choices and actions—not “acts of God”—typically turn natural events into disasters, Christian geophysicist Bob White told a Stewardship of Creation symposium at Baylor University.
“Disasters happen when God’s good processes go wrong because of human agency,” White told the Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture. “Disasters are interesting because they really bring into sharp focus the relationship between God the Creator, his creation and us, his creatures.”
White, a professor of geophysics at the University of Cambridge, delivered the W.H. Brian Jr. Family Lecture at the event sponsored by Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning.
Disasters: ‘Products of human agency’
White, director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, eschewed the term “natural disasters,” emphasizing natural events such as volcanic eruptions and floods have positive effects on the ecosystem and make the Earth “a fertile and inhabitable world,” but they often have devastating consequences on people when individuals misuse power.
“Disasters are products of human agency—and usually not the agency of the people who suffer,” said White, author of Who is to Blame? Disasters, Nature and Acts of God.
Often, natural events are predictable, and loss of life is preventable, he noted. However, he cited multiple examples—throughout history and in recent times—illustrating how the poor and vulnerable suffer disproportionately from natural events due to abuse of power and unjust distribution of resources.
Christians have a responsibility to minister to those who suffer as a result of injustice, he asserted.
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SOURCE: Baptist Standard, Ken Camp