At the time of this email the death toll from the [2004] earthquake and resulting tsunami in the Indian Ocean is already 155,000, and experts believe this number will rise. I believe that everything that happens in this world is either allowed or caused by God (Matthew 10:29-31). The question I have is, Why did God cause or allow this to happen? Jeremiah 5:18-23 describes a time where it seems the Israelites experienced a tsunami or "flooding" of some type because of their idolatry. Do you believe one possible reason for the tsunami in the Indian Ocean is the idolatry practiced in those areas? -- David Tam (Las Vegas)

I will not attempt to "answer" the question of the "why" -- why God let this happen. There may be multiple answers. I would hesitate to view the tsunami as punishment for idolatry. I am not convinced that this is how the Lord deals with sin in this day and age. When Jesus was asked similar why questions -- one group having been killed in an accident, another butchered in the temple -- he did not offer an explanation. In fact he discouraged speculation. He simply said that we must be ready, whenever death comes, by having already given our lives to God in repentance (Luke 13:1-5).

I would encourage you to hunt down a recent New York Times article about how plate tectonics are essential to life on earth! Without earthquakes, there would be no life. Hope you find it interesting. It is from the "Science Desk," Tuesday January 11, 2005: "Deadly and Yet Necessary, Quakes Renew the Planet," by William J. Broad (Late Edition - Final, Section F, Page 1, Column 4).

Following are the first 50 words: "They approach the topic gingerly, wary of sounding callous, aware that the geology they admire has just caused a staggering loss of life. Even so, scientists argue that in the very long view, the global process behind great earthquakes is quite advantageous for life on earth -- especially human life..."

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