So it is with great sobriety, then, that I ask how could such an ironic thing have happened? Hypotheses that come immediately to mind after discussions with religious folk about other unfortunate incidents include:
- God struck down a graven image, which is forbidden by (some translations of) the Ten Commandments, even (or especially) when the image is of God Himself.
- Allah struck down a false image of Himself as a signal that Islam is the true religion and there is no God but Allah leading to the ultimate conclusion that we should all become Muslims.
- Satan, like God, can control lightning and used his evil power to strike at a symbol of his adversary so as to tempt and lead astray those who might otherwise be faithful.
- God is testing our faith to see if we will still believe in Jesus despite what superficially appears to be an Act of God that symbolically destroys Jesus.
- God does not care about religious symbology like statutes of Jesus one way or the other, and is therefore content to allow things like this to happen without involving Himself.
- This event is merely one part of a very amazingly subtle, complex, and intricately detailed plan for the salvation of all humanity, the exact nature and mechanisms of which are quite beyond human comprehension.
- This was a random natural occurrence in which God was not involved in any manner.
How might we test these various hypotheses?
Well, we probably need more data, to start. One thing that experience tells us that churches, statues, art, people, and indeed anything else that is the subject of human invocation of the divine in an effort to gain protection from the random forces of nature do no better statistically than people or things which are not the subject of such intercession. It matters not which God is invoked, nor how intensely or in what fashion. No statistical difference at all.
Which of the available hypotheses do you suppose that evidence supports? The answer is pretty obvious to me, but there are those who, even when confronted by glaringly obvious evidence like this, will go through intense intellectual gyrations to avoid the unpleasant but completely simple and fully explanatory explanation.