Although I don't share Shinto and Buddhist beliefs about karma and rebirth, I've always had a lot of respect for Eastern religions. They don't have a nasty penchant for proselytizing, and their ideas about sex and sexuality are quite reasonable. Best of all, they value learning.
But apparently they share at least one bit of craziness with evangelical nuts like Pat Roberson: a belief that human failings anger the deities that run this place, and that said deities get pissed and send earthquakes and hurricanes as punishment.
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara was the latest celebrity to make the awful assertion that the Japanese 9.0 earthquake is our fault. He said,
"We need a tsunami to wipe out egoism, which has rusted onto the mentality of Japanese over a long period of time. I think the disaster is a kind of divine punishment, although I feel sorry for disaster victims."According to the story on ABC News, Governor Shintaro later apologized.
I hope Governor Shintaro realizes the company he is now keeping. He is in league with the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, both of whom jumped right in to blame the victims' sins for more than 20,000 deaths.
Laying blame on ourselves for a random geological event that's been building for hundreds of years is ludicrous. Scientists know why there are powerful earthquakes in Japan, and it has nothing to do with humans. That earthquake would have happened whether Japan was occupied by humans, dinosaurs or Martians. We live on a thin crust of rock scum floating on top of a liquid ball of molten lava. Every now and then the crust grinds around a bit. To the cosmos, it's nothing, a little grind at the edge of a tectonic plate that happens every couple hundred years. The fact that humans decided to build towns, railroads and nuclear power plants right on top of it is of no concern to Earth – it just keeps grinding along.
It's the height of egotism to think that there's some deity out there who cares about us enough to do this. The simple fact is that we're on our own. We built a nuclear power plant on top of an earthquake fault, and quite predictably there was an earthquake. It's just bad planning and bad luck.