Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pat Robertson on Haiti: Why Religion Hates Science

Pat Robertson's idiotic claim that God caused the Haitian earthquake got me to thinking about just how much religion preys on ignorance.

Consider for a moment what Robertson is really saying. He claims God was angry about the Haitians making a pact with Satan about 250 years ago, around 1800. Now earthquakes don't just happen – it's not like God stomped on the ground really hard and everything jumped around. No, this earthquake has been brewing for ... wait a second, since 1843 when the last earthquake struck Haiti! (It killed 10,000 people. Maybe that was God's first blow against these sinners.)

But wait, there's more – it seems God screwed up. He blasted the place a couple times before the Haitians made their pact with Satan! According to Wikipedia, there was a magnitude 7.5 earthquakes in 1770, thirty years before the Haitians' pact, and another before that in 1751 that flattened the city.

In fact, it turns out God had to start his revenge on the Haitians hundreds of millions of years ago, when He created the geology of the area!

But wait a second ... it's that very geological fault that raised Haiti from the ocean floor in the first place. So if God hadn't need to get revenge, there wouldn't have been a Haiti in the first place, the French wouldn't have colonized it, killed the natives, and brought African slaves there, and they wouldn't have had to make that pact with Satan. So God's revenge is also the cause? My head is spinning.

Of all the things I dislike about religion, its reliance on ignorance is the worst. People with even a modest education in science can't stomach this Biblical literalism nonesense. It's so silly it's laugable ... except that so many people believe it.

Worse, religious leaders count on the fact that most of their followers don't understand even the most basic aspects of science. And to ensure their own survival, they actively oppose education, because they know that their superstitions will wither in the face of facts.

Robertson's childish notion of God is just an extreme view of what most religions claim: God alters the laws of physics in the universe that He created, just to reward or punish humans. Here we are, on a tiny planet. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains at least 200 billion stars, and there are many billions of other galaxies, which means there are an estimated nine billion trillion stars total. That's a big universe, yet God is over here in this corner, willing to change the fundamental laws of physics for the universe just because we're praying for our football team to win.

This is why religiousness falls with education, and why evangelicals are so opposed to real science. Their millenia-old ideas just can't stand up to the truth.

Unfortunately, people like Robertson prey on ignorance, and they're good at it. Education is the answer, but it will take time.

18 comments:

  1. The funny thing is that I became a firm believer in GOD when doing microbiology in college and just became in awe of the organization and nonsensical way life continued on despite our emperical evidence never coinciding with the way things really work. Astronomy and the wonders of birth as a spiritual even furthered my bleief that there is a realm out there that simply cannot be explained by modern science. Maybe, its just not discovered yet but there are forces beyond our control that continue the laws of science and they deserve respect. Beating down the poverty sticken country doesn't further any cause but it is very sad how an island can literally be split, one side green and one side seemingly barren, it can't all be explained by science, its social and spiritual.

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  2. I have great respect for what the man has done. But the comments were harsh and unwarranted. The Haitian government made choices which made the end results much worse. The people made choices when they helped these men attain power. However rubbing their noses in to it makes for anger and further animosity. Perhaps Pat should have said bless them that hate me feed them and cloth them and let it stand at that. For then the end of the matter is thus for in so doing one heaps coals of righteousness upon their heads.
    Or perhaps he could have said it is better too give than to receive, so let us do as our lord said and uplift and bless the poor the orphan the oppressed. I was ashamed of what I heard come from a man such as him.

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  3. Perhaps Pat Robertson should use the influence he has (gained by preying on the illiterate, no pun intended) to help out fellow human beings. But I would imagine Pat doesn't regard them as fellow humans because of this "pact" their ancestors made a couple centuries ago. To fundamentalists like him, anyone that doesn't follow their particular form of crazy is not human, and doesn't deserve the compassion and help their god says must be given under threat of hellfire.

    Perhaps if more people regarded compassion as an extension of man's humanity towards other men, instead of a duty commanded under threat of eternal damnation, we would start to become full humans, instead of full-grown children led around by cynical manipulators such as Pat Robertson and his ilk.

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  4. anderzoid: One side of the island being green and the other being barron is a weather phenomenon and is easily explainable. Just take a look at Jamaica.

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  5. Anderzoid - If microbiology is what convinced you of God's existence, you should have studied evolution too.

    "To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today." – Isaac Asimov

    You're falling into two well-known traps. See this article, and look in particular at #5 (complexity) and #12 (argumentum ad ignoratiam).

    I hope you find these a bit helpful.

    Craig

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  6. JGLord and rjs: You both propose reasons why Haiti is so much worse off than The Dominican Republic. The real answer lies in history, and is very well explained by Jared Diamond in Guns, Germs and Steel. Here is a fairly good synopsis, but if you really want to learn about Haiti's economy, I highly recommend Diamond's book. Haiti is just one little piece of a huge historical puzzle that Diamond pieces together about why, in general, some parts of the world are wealthy and powerful while others are not.

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  7. Pat Robertson's comment on Hatti was idiotic. But Pat Robert should not be equated with religion neither/nor should others drawing general conclusion(s) from his spewed nonsense. Religion is based on a person's faith. Science changes and becomes more intelligent with time. It will continue to do so. Thank God.

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  8. Ian said, "Perhaps if more people regarded compassion as an extension of man's humanity towards other men, instead of a duty commanded under threat of eternal damnation, we would start to become full humans, instead of full-grown children led around by cynical manipulators such as Pat Robertson and his ilk.".

    Ian has pointed out the heart of the matter and why religion has become the force behind most of the evil in this world.

    Here's to becoming "full humans"! One educated step after another...

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  9. Shame on the defenders of Pat. He exemplifies the very worst of humanity. He is not the thoughtless obvious thug like other Christian organizations (e.g. the KKK and the Nazis).

    Nope, his brand of hate an ignorance is candy coated to look appealing to the masses and the more "innocent". He fleeces little old ladies and other basically decent people to peddle his absolutely immoral agenda.

    He is not a thug with a gun or a knife. He is the "best friend" who smiles in your face and molests your children when your back is turned.

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  10. It's a shame that anderzoid's years in college didn't teach him basic spelling. That aside, the reason that the Haitian side of the island is barren is because of the removal of the trees, done, if I'm remembering my history, by the Spanish. Because of native beliefs that the trees had living spirits, the Spanish felt that they must belong to the devil, so they had to go. And religion creates poverty again. I'm tired of people using their religious beliefs as a weapon against those who don't share them. Especially Christians, since the "Son of God" taught tolerance and love for ALL others, whether they shared his followers' beliefs or not.

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  11. What I observe, is whatever "god concept" is chosen to believe in, it becomes an Ideal that we strive to emulate, resulting in so called claims of righteousness, deifying lacks in substance and qualities of character.

    "Liberty", by definition, entails being responsible and accountable for the costs and consequences of our choices. It's about time religions were reminded of this definition, for the psychological costs and consequences of surrendering our minds over to others, is a denial of personal and individual accountability.

    Aid can pour in, we can rebuild Haiti, making everything shiny and new. But a fact of the matter is, according to both Catholicism and voodoo, no responsibility is claimed for actions or choices. Until it is, nothing will ever change in the lives of those of us who cling to these beliefs.

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  12. "Scientifically" speaking, the gland in my own head produces the peptides that flood the cells of my systems and when it does, we call this experience "emotion".

    And exactly how often are our "feelings" blamed on things and people outside of our own minds?

    "Security" is a psychological state of mind. Seems to me plenty of us have been ignorant, over the past 8-9 years especially, surrounding issues of "security".

    It's no one else fault if I'm an emotionally insecure person. Maybe learning coping skills would be wise, rather then trying to make the world into some kind of psychiatric institute, designed to insulate all the patients from what we do not know how to cope with in life?

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  13. The Soviet Union was an atheist governemnt.No God so no false notions or superstitons right?No,about 30 or more million were murdered!Millions were enslaved and many were jailed and tortured.

    Now,America has produced the most inventions and knowledge than any other country and we are 'religious!Most of the great colleges and universities here that even the world wants to attend were started by 'ignorant religious' people!!!
    I don't think atheism will help the human lot!

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  14. Is Christianity dying? Don't think so!Atheistm has NEVER been accepted in some 6,000 years of recorded history!!!

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  15. anteresresearch - Christianity is dying. Slowly, but the facts speak for themselves. And your assertion that atheism hasn't been accepted (yet) for 6,000 years is a bit of a joke. For 4,000 of those 6,000 years, Christianity wasn't even invented yet, and even today the vast majority of the people in the world are not Christian. What does acceptance have to do with truth? They're unrelated. We're just now beginning to really understand the universe, and we don't need the 2000-year-old myths that you call religion any more. And please, drop the Stalin/Hitler stuff, that's so childish. If mass murder is a criterion, what about Yahweh and the flood of Noah?

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  16. @Craig

    I'm not convinced the Stalin/Hitler arguments are childish. I think they are perfectly instructive. It is a common form of unit testing to run a process or concept to the "edges". Most people agree that Stalin and Hitler are the very height of evil or the edge of human morality. As such, they earn all of the extra attention they get.

    Hitler after all was a Christian and the Nazi party and the KKK are Christian organizations - facts that are hidden and denied in our society which is still basically run by Christians. The evidence of this denial is the wave of Christians who blithely slam Islam as horrific and call out a defense of "where are the Christian terrorist?" Obviously Christians are woefully ignorant of their own history.

    @anteresresearch do you know anyone raised in the USSR? I do. Turns out they are just as religious as anyone - it was just illegal to show it. Also, the obvious reason religion was outlawed was to keep it from competing for power in the soviet state.

    Also, you fail to recognize the proverb - absolute power corrupts absolutely. The biggest problem with the soviet government was one it shared with religions: they are simple human constructs designed to keep the reigns of power in the hands of a very few select people.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. What could possibly offer a human more power than religions which claim to know the mind of god and claim to be his mouthpiece?

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  17. Judgments of condemnation ARE judgments of condemnation, no matter what is being judged and condemned.

    Which is blacker, the pot or the kettle?

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