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The Theodicy of Natural Disasters

  • D. K. Chester (a1)

In 1993 Frank Press, President of the United States Academy of Sciences estimated that in a typical year ie. one without a major catastrophe on the scale of the Kobe earthquake or Sahel droughts, some 250,000 people will die and losses of US$40 billion will result from natural disasters (Press 1993). In recent years much has been written about the physical causes of and human responses to natural disasters (see: Hewitt, 1983a, 1983b; Alexander, 1993; Chester 1993; Blaikie et al. 1994 and Chester et al. 1996, for extensive bibliographies), and this vast literature reflects increasing concern over disaster losses and a growing realization that most losses are preventable. Prompted by this concern the United Nations has designated the nineteen-nineties the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, or IDNDR. With the exception of a training manual for foreign mission workers published by the Evangelical Interchurch Relief and Development Alliance (Davis and Wall 1992), trenchant reflections by Austin Farrer (1966) and limited treatment in works focusing on wider ecotheological issues (eg. Russell 1994: 35–50), theologians have been conspicuous by their absence from what is now a global debate on natural disasters and their mitigation.

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D. Alexander 1993: Natural Disasters. London, UCL Press.

H.H. Barrows 1923: Geography and Human Ecology. Annals Association of American Geographers 13, 114.

R. J. Blong 1984: Volcanic Hazards. Australia, Academic Press.

D.K. Chester A.M. Duncan J.E. Guest and C.R.J. Kilburn 1985: Mount Etna: The Anatomy of a Volcano. London, Chapman and Hall.

A.M. Duncan C. Dibben D.K. Chester and J.E. Guest 1996: The 1928 eruption of Mount Etna Volcano, Sicily, and the Destruction of the Town of Mascali. Disasters 20 1, 120.

A. Furnham and L.B. Brown 1992: Theodicy: A neglected aspect of the psychology of religion. The International journal for the Psychology of Religion 2 1, 3745.

M.F. Lechat 1990: The International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction: Background and Objectives. Disasters 14(1), 16.

D. Oates 1988: Social Darwinism and Natural Theology. Zygon 23 (4), 439454.

M. Stoeber 1992: Evil and the Mystic's God: Towards a Mystical Theodicy. London, Macmillan.

D.S. Thomas 1993: Sandstorm in a teacup? Understanding desertification. Geographical Journal 159 (3), 318331.

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Scottish Journal of Theology
  • ISSN: 0036-9306
  • EISSN: 1475-3065
  • URL: /core/journals/scottish-journal-of-theology
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