Tsunami: Where Was God?, Channel 4

by | Dec 25, 2005 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

Mark Dowd approached the tragic events of last year from a novel angle – does this catastrophe indicate the existence or non-existence of God – and did so in an intriguing way which didn’t trivialise the suffering of the survivors and posed some provocative theories.

What was good about it?

• While we were unimpressed by Mark Dowd in his recent investigation into Opus Dei, here he was much, much better. Rather than a mildly piqued observer, as he appeared in the Opus Dei documentary, he was driven by a passion to examine what effect the disaster had on the faith of the survivors. It was also revealed late on that Dowd’s father had inspired his quest, but that he had tragically died before his son could report back on his discoveries of how a benevolent God could allow so much suffering and pain.

• The dignity and resilience of some of the survivors of the tsunami who calmly recounted their tragedies. Fadil watched as the whole of his family succumbed one by one to the monumental force of the wave, and spoke of how he saw his sister’s child swept from her arms before his sister, too, was taken. As Fadil told of                how he discovered the corpses of some members of his family in a truck they’d forlornly used to flee the wave, Dowd instinctively put a comforting arm around his shoulders.

• Dowd eventually finding some kind of methodology in the ostensible madness that God could create a world in which such disasters occur. At a meeting with religious scientists, Dowd discovered that the seismic plates and constant churning up of raw materials to be replaced by fresh materials was necessary for the long-term success of the planet. A world without plates would be a near-sterile marshland with limited animal life, but a consequence of such a make up is the occasional volcano or earthquake.

• The philosophical debate often beguiled. and achieved a peak when Dowd and others discussed an excerpt from Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov when the existence of God is questioned because He was prepared to create a world where there would be pain and suffering.

What was bad about it?

• Dowd presented Bjorn Moller, a Swede living in Thailand who had lost loved ones in the disaster, with a pamphlet produced by one of those hateful, bigoted American churches which claimed that the 5,000 Swedes who perished were sinners because they came from a country that promoted homosexuality and other behaviour it perceived as dissolute. It was a cheap way of raising the anger of the viewers as Bjorn spoke with the horrid woman on the phone as she, as is the wont of scum like her who cower behind religious scripture as a justification for their bestial bigotry, repeated that the Swedes deserved to die. As Bjorn became more enraged, the woman informed him he could reach her through godhatesfags.com.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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