Earthquakes, Eclipses and Divine Judgement

I am absolutely astounded by recent comments by certain politicians, (you know who they are), that earthquakes and eclipses are all about divine judgement. With regard to earthquakes, it is all the more astounding, since the “Father of Seismology”, Anglican minister Rev John Michell (1724 – 1793), explained earthquakes as waves travelling through the compressible and elastic strata of the earth as a build up of pressure is released. He conjectured that the originating force may have been superheated water. This conjecture proved to be false, but his underlying theory proved true, and he was able to pinpoint the epicenter of an earthquake. Earthquakes will occur along geological faults regardless of the politics of those who live there. Eclipses will occur with accurate predictability regardless of the politics of people at the time.

I am left to wonder whether these politicians really are so ignorant, or whether they are simply exploiting the people who are.

There is an older theology that might have accepted such explanations, but it has been supplanted by a newer version. When Elijah feared for his life and was on the run from Ahab and Jezebel, he returned to Mt Sinai in the hope that God would speak to him as He did to Moses in days gone by. But when he gets there he finds that God speaks to him, not through the earthquake, wind or fire, but through a sheer silence. (1 Kings 19:1-14) (Personally I like the older version of a “still small voice”.) So even at this ancient time, theology has moved on from believing that earthquakes speak to us.


This reminded me of this blog post:

As a comparison, think about earthquakes. These are the result of tectonic activity, without which the planet would probably be totally covered by water or totally covered by land—neither of which would allow for the kind of life we see now. So we might wonder why God created the Earth with earthquakes, and the answer is: removing the possibility of earthquakes from our planet takes away other aspects of the world we couldn’t live without.

The same goes for dynamic weather systems, which are so crucial for life. Yes, they sometimes give rise to tornadoes and hurricanes, but this is a side effect of a necessary condition for life to flourish.

So too, we can understand the existence of viruses along these lines. The population of viruses on Earth is estimated to be 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That’s a really big number (10^31)—ten billion times more stars than there are in the universe! What are they all doing? The vast, vast majority of them are not infecting humans, but rather they are infecting bacteria and keeping them in check

(Coronavirus and the Problem of Evil - BioLogos)


I’m not sure if to many people really believe that everything is god guided and that all natural disasters is a form of divine punishment. But many certainly seem to believe that god occasionally steps out and causes a supernaturally driven disaster. Though probably not to many here believe that.

Now I’m not positive, but I think that ancient Jewish cultures believe that angels literally opened windows in the firmament and that angels pulled the celestial bodies around and so on. That angels controlled how far the ocean came in and so on. They believed that the heavens provided signs not just for seasons but judgement. Again, not sure if true, but i red once that lots of smoke in the sky, even from a thousand miles away at night can cause light refraction that makes the moon look blood red. I remember last year one night I just happen to see the moon and it was really red looking. Never seen it so red. Even others , it was a grocery store parking lot, were outside looking at it and taking pictures. I thought it was cool and presumed a natural explanation for it but some girl in her 20s literally started crying and was scared about it being the moon from revelation which lead me to quickly googling it and a sky times or something blog came up mentioning from some places the moon will look red beside of all the west coast smoke from fire. That led me to reading something from a preterist mentioning the moon would look red ( back in 70ad ) from the fires of Rome. Randomly, was watching some anime once and in the episode the moon was red and many panicked and some warrior said a red moon means war and it cut to a image of a silver moon slowly turning red as smoke rose higher and higher showing view of villages war torn.

So if all of that is true, and lots of smoke can cause a moon to appear red even to thousands off then perhaps every time they seen the red moon, it meant a war was drawing near and so they begin to associate it with a sign of judgement coming. In war typically one side loses and overtime winners write history that those overcame were being judged. So maybe these ancient people saw these red moons a few weeks before terror struck and though surely it was the gods doing it. But again. I’m not actually certain about the science of it.

I’m constantly debating between cessationism vs demythologizing the Bible including the gospels. Like did jesus really raise the dead or walk on water. Were there really supernaturally possessed people with super strength. In the Bible it waxes and wanes with how active god is in showy supernatural ways. He came down and potentially wrestled Jacob, spoke audibly to Abraham then was silent until Moses and soon. So are we just in a silent era of God since the first century? It’s impossible for anyone to say.

I guess ultimately for 99.99% of things in this world, I lean towards naturalistic thought. I don’t believe anyone is being magically raised from the dead or able to walk. I don’t think anyone is possessed by demons and so on. Likewise, I think natural disasters are just that. Natural. Plus what’s a curse to us is a blessing to others. Trees falling on our houses and knocking out power during a hurricane sucks. Trees being knocked over creating divots that hold water in summer and is a major blessing to reptiles and amphibians. The year that trees fall down on houses stink. 3-5 years later for foragers those wild fallen trees become powerful mushroom producers for us to eat from. The big tall trees falling over creates areas for more sunlight to feed saplings that replace it. A half mile stretch of destroyed forest gets filled with wildflowers for a decade before the new trees begin too take most of the sunlight which then has shady loving ground covers sprouting up. These ephemeral and shade loving forbs produce leaves for the insects they host. That year tons of caterpillars pop up meaning tons of bird food meaning more healthy birds meaning more waste dispersed seeds of flora. Same for fires that burn though pine forests which are actually a type of grassland. Flooding allows smaller mud snakes and water snakes to move from one body of water to another. We often see these disasters from the eyes of just humans and not the thousands of other species there.

A large fallen tree can mean a new snake home for 8 years or so. It can mean a spot for boring bees to bore into to live. It’s a haven for beetles and centipedes to get under loose bark. It’s a spot for birds to peck to get to them at. It’s food for slime molds and mushrooms. It’s helping to retain moisture as it composts for saplings to grow stronger in the fuller light.

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As I understand it, the author of this article is arguing that these adversities in life cause us to become spiritually mature people. Well, sometimes they might, but the people killed by these events do not seem to be given that opportunity. Nor do people who have been overwhelmed by these events, even if they survive.


Agreed. My point was rather to show that there is a good reason earthquakes exist. Without them, life as we know it would be impossible.


There are many who either avoid or survive such calamities who attribute their salvation to faith and God. By contrast there are probably more who lose faith because their loved one did not survive. It is a two edged sword.

The notion of freedom encompasses the idea that we are free to both live or die without interference from God. Whether God might protect some for His own reasons is beyond our ability to discern. I know that one of our recent lost members was convinced that God behaves as Judaism believes.

Whichever, I think it is not wise to rely on God to save us, especially as Jesus implied otherwise. As the Old Testament is rooted in Judaism it is probably not wise to take its view on the subject.


It would be interesting to calculate how long humans would survive after all tectonic movement stopped. It would involve hot spots that remain plus remaining magma chambers for most volcanoes, but primarily would rest on erosion rates. Of course climate would play a part as well; lower sea levels would mean longer to survive.


“As the Old Testament is rooted in Judaism it is probably not wise to take its view on the subject.”

I think that is back to front. Judaism is rooted in what Christians call the Old Testament, and diplomats would call the “Hebrew Bible”. Jesus, himself, was a Jew; and it is difficult to understand much of his teaching without being aware of these roots. There is a degree of continuity and discontinuity between the Old Testament and Christianity.

One of the problems we have in understanding the Old Testament is a failure to recognize that the final compilers were apt to place seemingly contradictory passages alongside each other. Those who impose their belief that the Bible is equally inspired in all parts will be blinded to this reality.

It is more of a modern insight to realize that Samaritan Israelites and Judahite Israelites often worked on the text of the Old Testament together, until saboteurs set them against each other. So Samaritanism and Judaism, as well as Christianity, all have roots in the Old Testament. Some would argue that “Judaism” only started to develop after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. However, I am not going to be distracted by this sidetrack.

As an exercise in comparison of differing views within the Old Testament, read 1 and 2 Kings; then follow it up by reading 1 and 2 Chronicles. Chronicles includes every episode in Kings (except one), but much more material about the remnant of the northern kingdom of Israel. In short, the remnant of the northerners, whom the Judahites refer to as “Samaritans”, get very good press in Chronicles.


The book of Job and the book of Ecclesiastes undermine the notion that God will always save individuals who serve him. And a large portion of the Psalms are laments, where the authors can’t understand why God does not intervene.

For example, the author of Psalm 22 is in anguish because God does not deliver him. But from verse 22 on he thinks of the eschatological deliverance of the people of God, even the whole world (v. 27). So even though there may not be a short-term salvation, in the end everything will be done according to God’s will.

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That’s about as reasonable as that one politician running for senator attributing a recent magnitude 4.8 earthquake in New Jersey to climate change.


Judaism was a religion of grace (covenental nomism). The idea that Jews were legalists working for salvation was put to bed by EP Sanders long ago (Paul and Palestinian Judaism). His work shut down anti-Semitic views and Christian caricatures of Judaism.

Dunn accepted Sanders basic arguments and said, but why not apply them to Paul. And that is where the new perspective on Paul originated.



That’s an interesting point. Earthquakes are the result of tectonic plates grinding against one another. Sometimes this results in subduction where one plate plunges beneath another. This can fuel volcanism as the subducting plate melts and the lighter material rises and fuels volcanoes.

For those of us in the PNW, we are all familiar with the Cascadia fault and the volcanoes it is responsible for.


One of the benefits is the great soil found in the PNW. Agriculture wouldn’t be what it is the PNW if not for those volcanoes.


That actually may be true–just 12,000 year old climate change causing changes in isostacy. The combination of old faults concentrating movements of the plate with isostacy are probably the cause of most eastern US earthquakes.

She is attributing it to human use of fossil fuels, not isostatic rebound from the last ice age. Actually, strike that. She probably doesn’t know the difference.

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I didn’t expect that most senators would be very likely to know much about isostacy.

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There’s also a strong thread of Determinism and Calvinism (if I understand it correctly) running through these claims. There is a total solar eclipse in 2026 visible across Greenland, Iceland, Spain, Russia, and a small area of Portugal. So I guess they are meant to anger God in 2026? Perhaps the map of future solar eclipses is a sin map of the future.


I think you are on to something there. I would love to be able to go to Iceland and see what judgement awaits in the land of fire and ice. Portugal must be pretty bad too. First the Lisbon earthquake and now the eclipse.


Well - I guess we’re only 87% sinners here in my parts of Kansas - not like those heathen in Texas and where @Laura was that got the full totality of God’s judgement!


We did have a local “festival” on a ranch outside of town of the Burning Man variety, and it was pretty interesting to see the variety of people who showed up (billed as 40,000, but I suspect in the 10-20K range). Believe me, there was plenty of judgement to go around on Facebook coming from the local yokels,but didn’t see any from God.

We are a lot like Job’s friends, who saw judgement in his afflictions when none was there. I suspect it is a human affliction, as many different traditions have some form of Karma. Perhaps it is a by-product of evolution, as it may warn us away from building cities at the base of active volcanos and the shorelines of hurricaine prone coasts, until our greed or necessity overrides our judgement and puts ourselves in harm’s way.


Not sure how relevant this is, but I was taught the Pharisees began well as a sect, but later devolved into a ‘caricature’ of Judaism

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