The Book of Job provides a paradigmatic lens with which to consider the existence of both natural calamity and human atrocity through the occurrence of each within the story. Similar examples of each type of disaster in modern history are the Holocaust of World War II, which parallels the humanist evil Job faced when the men destroyed his flock as well as the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, correlating to the wind that lead to the collapse and death of his family. In Job’s case, the ultimate question of why must the good suffer has been repeatedly been considered. In the same sense, why would such catastrophic occurrences happen to the Jewish people of the 20th Century, as well as the people of Haiti in the 21st?
Thomas Aquinas defines evil as the absence or privation of good in his Summa Theologica, while calamity is universally defined as an event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster. In Augustine’s On Free Choice of Will, “evil” is ultimately attributed to man. Augustine argues that God is perfectly good, and the only way to share that goodness is to allow others to do good by the free will He gives them. The problem of free will is that misused it creates a mockery of good, or allows good to not be done, thus evil “existing.” God maintains His perfect goodness by punishing evil, and even being merciful in said punishment.
“He shall act like a smelter and purger of silver; and he shall purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver.” –Malachi 3:3
In this verse God is described as a silversmith, one who holds man in the fire and refines them like gold and silver. From this it could be argued that God uses natural disasters, or natural suffering, to bring about Godly characteristics. A silversmith must burn impurities out of the silver until it has mirror like qualities. The God of the Bible claims to be the ultimate source of virtue and what is good. God uses suffering and adversity to develop virtues in man, a reflection of His own characteristics. Careful scrutiny of these sources will enable a more fulfilling and well-rounded investigation to ultimately address many of these problematic circumstances and events.
In terms of the media portion and presentation of the project, we have rough ideas about a possible video montage or interview collection. Each would somehow seek to highlight the “split” between the two types of disasters investigated within the paper. As the project progresses, these ideas will become more specific and focused and thus are subject to change.
Group Members: Jordan Barton, Michael Thompson, Kevin Rooney, Ben Ward and Leah Watkins