A Critical-Mythological Examination of Natural Disaster Theodicies in Modern/Global/Connected Societies

At the Natural Disasters and the Apocalypse conference hosted at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, I presented a paper entitled, "Natural Disasters and the Apocalypse."

Mass media communication through streaming and social media has shaped a society in which devastating catastrophes may be reported and commented upon near-instantaneously, leading to the phenomenon of de facto availability heuristics regarding the perception of higher-than-normal ubiquitous global chaos. Further, the current Modern age—dedicated to scientific correspondence and logical positivism—often flatly rejects “apologies” (that is, defenses) of the sustainability of human flourishing as found within defenses of some religious belief systems. It is here argued that the inflated availability of disasters in their “unrealism” (that is, the unrealistic nature of access to viewers or listeners by instantaneous means) is counteracted by different myth—experiential, narrative-based understandings of theodicy (that is, defense of divine action in response to perceived and actual widespread disaster or “evil”). A Leibnizian approach will be examined and explored, critiqued, and synthesized with a dialectically through the backdrop of 21st century culture and technological media, demonstrating an alternative narrative which finds itself grounded in neither analytic theology nor omnipresent media.

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