could God have allowed the [space shuttle] Columbia disaster? These
were good people, with families, doing good work for science and their
f theres a theological lesson
to be learned from the sudden disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia
in January 2003and the tragic loss of the crewmembers livesthe
lesson is not to be found in the virtue or morality of the crew. God will
judge their personal lives and their work, but the disaster itself should
not be seen as a direct act of God. Instead, it should be understood in the
context of an intricate interplay of human
free will that points to one chillingly
simple issue: overconfidence in human reason.
in Human Reason
When the insulation from the
fuel tank struck the shuttles left wing at liftoff, the mission could
have been called off on the spot. Had the shuttle been brought back immediately
to the ground, engineers might have discovered the true extent of the damage,
or they might have discovered some other pre-existing structural problems.
Of course, the decision to cancel the mission would have had an enormous
cost, financially and politically. Therefore, it was decided, according to
pragmatism, honor, and human reason, that there was
no danger to the spacecraft, and the mission continuedand lives were
So consider that decision. Rest
assured, we see no danger to the mission. Such is the assurance of
reason. Yet disaster might have been averted had the engineers stepped back from
their human confidence and asked, But what if were wrong?
Yes, but what if were wrong? If only we had such love for God to allow
ourselves to ask that question. So consider some other common statements
based in love for human reason rather than love for God. We dont see
any harm in lifestyles defiant of chastity. We
dont see any harm in gay marriage.
We dont see any harm in loosening the prohibitions about divorce.
We dont see any harm in artificial birth control. We dont see
any harm in abortion. These are all assurances made by those who
dissent from the true
Faith of the Church. And fine assurances they are.
Remember the Columbia.
Therefore, the lesson here is a lesson
about warning. If you put all of your trust in your own self-confidence,
youre headed for eventual disasterand you could contribute to sending
others to their doom as well. But if you understand the mystic
ramifications of Gods love, and
humbly accept and
surrender to that love despite the inconvenience,
and let it be your guide in every moment of uncertainty, then you do have
good reason to rest assured.
A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information
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Disasters and Trauma by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. explains how an
event is traumatic because it disrupts your previously secure sense of self.
Wild animals live with a constant, sharp awareness of perpetual
danger, yet most people live with a naive—and deceptive—sense of safety and
security to the point of denying their basic vulnerability and fragmented sense
of self. So when something disastrous happens, the psychological damage from the
shattering of your illusions about life and identity may be more problematic than
any physical damage.