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.