ISCAST and the Bushfires

We have received many expressions of concern regarding the bushfires in Victoria from our friends all over the world. As far as we know no one in the ICSAST family has been directly affected and for this we are profoundly grateful.     

There have been a few close shaves with the fires burning close to several of our members’ houses. The wind change that can so often double the size of the fire in very quick time also redirected the blazes, saving many houses and lives but catching many others.

Many of us however have friends or know of people with friends who have been affected: people have lost their houses, their livestock and their lives. The magnitude of the disaster has been unprecedented in Australia and our prayers go out to those who are grieving.

The response to the disaster has also been unprecedented. The main fund raising money in support of those that have been affected is the Red Cross and reports are that nearly $200M have been raised for this fund alone.

Other fund raising events are being held and there is much more money to come in.

One feature of these fires as distinct from, say, the tsunami of a few years ago, is that very few people seem to be querying God and questions of theodicy seem to have taken a back seat. There seems to be a realisation or at least some sense in people’s minds that humans have been much more involved in creating this situation. To me, there is a sense that blaming God will only turn the question back on us.

Yes, the weather was exceptional (the fire danger index on the day was determined at 330 (on a scale of 1 to 100!!!)—three and a third times the worst conditions once considered likely) but there is a strong feeling that we humans had a hand in creating even that situation. There is an acceptance that global warming as a result of human activity may have had a role to play.

Then there is the number of people moving from the city to the bush (the so-called “tree-changers”), and the way in which the city is expanding and merging with the bush. This brings people who are escaping city life for the peace and harmony(?) of the bush into direct confrontation with one of the realities of life with nature. And it’s a vicious reality that many simply don’t understand and for which they are often inadequately prepared.

Whether it’s the climate, the nature of the people, the bureaucratic regulations protecting trees and vegetation growing near the houses, the shape and extent of our cities, or all of these and more, I sense that there is a feeling that this is something we all had a hand in.

From us Victorians, I say “Thank you” for your expressions of concern and of support. You will never know how much it is appreciated until you face a similar disaster. There is much here for us to learn and there will be much soul searching and thinking that will take place but, for now, a shell shocked community is trying to get back on its feet. Please continue to pray for us.

Murray Hogg
ISCAST Victoria

Victorian Bushfires


Your comments about the theodicy issue not coming up is interesting.  There was the one pastor who claimed that the bushfires were God's judgement on the government of Victoria becasue it had passed pro-abortion legislation last year so I guess that there were attempts at "blaming" God.

On the other hand even the radical atheists did not take up the opportunity for a free kick on that one.

I guess that when the emergency is over the claims and counter-claims will start but I take your point that many are feeling that we humans had a hand in this.  It is kind of hard to blame God when the "hand of man" is writ large over these events.




Click here to join ISCAST




Look us up on Facebook, Twitter, and tune in to our Podcast.


ISCAST Fellows

Click here to view a list of ISCAST Fellows and their profiles.