What do you say to an atheist if they say “if god is real then why are there earthquakes and disasters”


What do you say to an atheist when they say if god is real then why does he allow good people to die, earthquakes, disasters etc…


There are a lot of ways to look at these questions.

Firstly how about this, I don’t know. Ok that’s not very satisfying.

Secondly, if no one died and nothing was ever allowed to go wrong then we’d be in heaven wouldn’t we? There is a difference between this mortal earth and heaven.

Thirdly, how much would we want God to interfere? We would ask Him to interfere with everything constantly! If we don’t have free will for example then we become His puppets.

This universe is full of autonomous systems, all this stuff around us has free will in a way, and because of that it’s genuine behaviour.

The price for these freedoms is sometimes painful.

St Pio was of the opinion that this world is like a spiritual training ground, who am I to disagree.


There is. But the question being asked is why this difference should exist.


But the question is not about the free will of humans, but the painful effects of the way non-human creation is made to behave.


Yes. I assume this is all leading to you giving your answers?


Nope. I’m playing the part of the atheist. A rôle I am more suited for.


These I think are autonomous systems, I don’t think they’re ‘made’ to behave in certain ways.


Nor do I, but is that a totally orthodox view?


There’s no snippy one liner or even paragraph to a challenge like this. It stems from an oversimplification of what we mean by God and terms like perfectly good. You can ask him to elaborate on why he thinks earthquakes disprove God, in which case he’ll probably brings up what he sees as a paradox between God’s omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence and concluding “If God is all-good then he must not be all-powerful, or if he’s all-powerful he must not be all-good.” You then need to proceed to unpack what it means to be “all-good.” You also need to be prepared to discuss what goodness and evil are, and their relation to God’s act of creation.

Maybe there are better ways to proceed that work for other people. I tend towards the analytical.


I agree, I have also found that following extremely long and complex debates with atheists the conclusion is usually that we agree to disagree. It comes down eventually to belief.


I’m answering on my own behalf not on behalf of the Catholic Church, that much must be clear.

I believe that God can and does interfere with these systems on occasion. I am reminded of when Our Lord was in a fishing boat asleep when His disciples became very anxious about a storm which had arisen and was threatening to sink their boat, having woken Him He immediately bade the storm to desist and it did. For example.


The best way to change anyone’s mind is to get to know them personally, to bear their burdens with them, to share their grief and pain, and to listen to them. In other words, be Christ to and for them. My wife did that for me before we started dating.

If it is on a forum, however, forget it. No one is convinced to change their mind on a forum unless they are open to it. Unfortunate, but that is due to how we humans develop trust.


It’s true.

Perhaps by arguing our case with atheists we actually consolidate our own faith though. I have found this dialectic process to be useful in that regard, which perhaps is a selfish way to look at it.

Generally speaking I think that unless all reasons for all things happening are known it leaves the element of doubt, and that means that no one can discount the existence of God.

Personally to me the existence of God is beyond question.



Wisdom 18 :8 For by the same means by which you punished our enemies you called us to yourself and glorified us.9 For in secret the holy children of good people offered sacrifices, and with one accord agreed to the divine law, so that the saints would share alike the same things, both blessings and dangers;

Wisdom 12:1 For your immortal spirit is in all things.
2 Therefore you correct little by little those who trespass,
and you remind and warn them of the things through which they sin,
so that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in you, O Lord.

Wisdom 3 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
2 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
3 and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
4 For though in the sight of others they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
6 like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
7 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
8 They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them forever.
9 Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will abide with him in love,
because grace and mercy are upon his holy ones,
and he watches over his elect.


Basically becuase of the fall.


Please research what Dr Peter Kreeft says about this, it’s been a long time since I’ve read it but he did touch upon this very issue. In my elementary understanding I can say very coursely it was related to not just humans being fallen but nature as well. We’re all groaning until He returns.


For the record, if you were to get into a discussion about this, I second using Dr. Kreeft’s work.


Basically they are asking why, if God exists, does he permit pain and suffering? Father Mike Schmitz answers it well here. 8 minutes.


If God is real why are there blessings, and graces and all kinds of good things. We are so quick to think of the bad in life and complain but are we ever THANKFUL for the GOOD and WONDERFUL things we are blessed with.


In other words it’s about the problem of natural evil, not moral evil.

The problem of evil is a problem involving both natural and moral evil.

The problem of moral evil is solved relatively easily…

The problem of natural evil is much more difficult to solve.

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