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Did the Creator God create the tsunami?
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Did the Creator God create the tsunami?

Dave Havir
By Dave Havir
The writer pastors the Church of God Big Sandy
and is a regular columnist for The Journal.

BIG SANDY, Texas--On Dec. 26 an undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean generated a tsunami that caused much death and devastation in Southeast Asia. Estimates of the victims may reach 200,000.

Tsunamis are ocean waves produced by earthquakes or underwater landslides.

The word tsunami is Japanese and means "harbor wave." Tsunamis are often incorrectly identified as tidal waves. A tsunami is actually a series of waves that can travel at speeds averaging 450 miles per hour in the open ocean.

Many people ask: How involved was God in this tragedy?

My response: Like most people reading this newspaper, I believe that God is the sovereign Father in the universe. That means I believe He is ultimately responsible for everything that occurs.

For the record, I believe that God micromanaged disasters like the Noachian Flood, the killing of the firstborn in Egypt and other events. But did He micromanage this disaster?

For the sake of discussion let's frame the question a little differently: Did God initiate this environmental tragedy, or did He merely watch it unfold right before His eyes and allow it to occur?

As we consider some of the unbelievable facts about this event, let's give some thought to our opinion about how involved God was.

The earthquake

  • This particular earthquake originated in the Indian Ocean just north of Simeulue Island, off the western coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia.

  • Apparently the epicenter of the main earthquake was 100 miles west of Sumatra at a depth of 18.6 miles below mean sea level. This is reportedly at the extreme western end of the Ring of Fire (an earthquake belt that accounts for 81 percent of the world's largest earthquakes).

  • An estimated 750 miles of faultline slipped about 50 feet along the "subduction zone" where the India Plate dives under the Burma Plate. The slip did not happen instantaneously but took place in two phases over a period of several minutes.

Did God directly do something to the earth (like blowing His breath or snapping His fingers) to initiate the earthquake at that exact spot? Or did He watch the fault lines He created years ago come apart in that part of the world during an acceptable timetable to Him?

The tsunami

  • The sudden vertical rise of the seabed during the earthquake displaced massive volumes of water, resulting in the tsunami that struck the coasts of the Indian Ocean.

  • The tsunami devastated the shores of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South India, Thailand and other countries with waves of up to 50 feet high.

  • Because the faultline affected by the quake lies in a nearly north-south orientation, the greatest strength of the tsunami waves was in an east-west direction. Bangladesh, which lies at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal, had few casualties even though it is a low-lying country.

  • Because of the distances involved, the tsunami took anywhere from 15 minutes to seven hours to reach the various coastlines.

    The northern regions of the Indonesian island of Sumatra were hit soon after the quake, while Sri Lanka and the east coast of India were hit roughly 90-120 minutes later.

    Thailand was also struck about two hours later, in spite of being closer to the epicenter, because the tsunami traveled more slowly in the shallow Andaman Sea off its western coast.

  • The tsunami caused serious damage and deaths as far as the east coast of Africa. The furthest recorded death due to the tsunami apparently occurred at Port Elizabeth in South Africa, 5,000 miles away from the epicenter.

Did God specifically cause the precise amount of movement under the water to create the precise amount of waves to hit His precise targets? Did God blow on the water to intensify its damage to certain areas?

What is your opinion?

Well, what do you think?

Someone could say: Our church leader dogmatically told us how God was involved.

My response: What's new about that? There are thousands of false prophets running around, giving their opinions as facts from God (Jeremiah 23:16-21).

Someone could ask: Are you calling my religious leader a false prophet?

My response: When your religious ruler claims to speak for God as he gives his prophecy opinions, yes.

Do not be afraid of religious rulers. Discover their opinion if you so desire, but remember it is only their opinion.

Did God create this specific tsunami? I am not asking you what the false prophets are saying. What do you think?

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