“What distinguished the biblical prophets from their pagan predecessors was their refusal to see natural catastrophe as an independent force of evil…Essential to monotheism is that conflict is not written into the fabric of the Universe. That is what redeems tragedy and creates hope. The simplest explanation is that of the 12th-century sage, Moses Maimonides. Natural disasters, he said, have no explanation other than that God, by placing us in a physical world, set life within the parameters of the physical. Planets are formed, tectonic plates shift, earthquakes occur, and sometimes innocent people die. To wish it were otherwise is in essence to wish that we were not physical beings at all. Then we would not know pleasure, desire, achievement, freedom, virtue, creativity, vulnerability and love. We would be angels — God’s computers, programmed to sing His praise. The religious question is, therefore, not: “Why did this happen?” But “What then shall we do?””Why Does God Allow Terrible Things to Happen to His People?