Haiti and it’s problems have been at the forefront of the news recently and I think I would be remiss if I did not join the flood of people venturing their opinions. Originally, I would have liked to write something about that Moron (with a capital ‘M’) Pat Robertson but then I read a post at http://rationalists.wordpress.com that pretty much summed up my feelings on the matter and I decided not to repeat the point. Feel free to read his post, it is amusing.
I was listening to the radio this morning, to Redi Direko’s show on 702 which pretty much forced me to write this post. Before I carry on, I just want to say that Redi Direko is now my favourite South African celebrity, she rocks and it should be mandatory to listen to her show every day. She is just, impartial and fair, gives even the wackiest view a chance, her opinions are reasoned, she has a great sense of humour. I also have a sneaking suspicion she is a closet atheist (or agnostic at the very least) which is certainly helping her standing in my eyes. She is certainly somebody I can respect. Her show today was particularly interesting and the bit that I heard was dominated by Haiti and the god squad, the excuse innovation congregation.
Which brings me to my point. If you are religious, especially in the christian sense, events like Haiti or the tsunami pose a serious problem for you. Just to clarify: I say in the christian sense because the propaganda and sales material around that religion try to sell their god as an all-knowing, all good, all caring father figure who has nothing but love for you and everybody else. While the other Abrahamic religions do punt the paternal father figure, I feel christians really go out of their way to sell you how much their deity loves them.
The reason Haiti poses such a problem for them (christians, but also most other religious people) is the sheer mountain of human suffering that occurs. It is impossible to explain the horror, misery and suffering currently being experienced by the Haitian people. One cannot properly comprehend how god damn awful their lives (the ones that are alive) are right now. This puts religious people in a bit of a bind because on the one side you are selling your deity as a caring, loving father figure, who anybody can ask for anything at any time, and the deity will be listening. On the other hand, you have a hundred thousand rotting corpses of babies, pregnant woman, children, mothers, sons. You have families that were wiped out in one go, children who took days to die in horrible agony, orphaned children starving to death under rubble next to the corpses of their parents. Fucking unpleasant shit.
It is at this point where human idiocy HAS to take over for a religious person to stay sane (or insane, depending on your point of view). On the radio I listened to many callers defending their religion. Caller after caller, SMS after SMS saying, ‘you can’t know the mind of god’, ‘god is too great to understand’, ‘god has a plan for this’, ‘god did not cause this’, ‘it’s a natural disaster, god didn’t do it’. Sure, I agree 100% that god didn’t cause that earthquake. No supernatural force did. Scientists know exactly what caused it, how it works, where it came from.
The innovative excuses made by the god squad are, to be honest, mind-blowing. What sick bastard of a parent do you need to be to allow thousands of your ‘children’ to die in the most horrible way imaginable. The fact is, there have been few, very few people who would murder or allow death on that scale. Hitler was one of them (don’t give me the straw man shit, I know, but I am trying to make a point of scale here). You need to be a sick, twisted thing indeed to allow suffering and tragedy on that scale if you can do something about it. Presumably, the almighty creator of the universe could easily have done something. Oh, I don’t know, stop the earth quake. Too big? How about a big ass bright light in the sky so people go outside just before the quake strikes? That, people, would have been a miracle even I could believe, but, not to anybody’s surprise, none of this happened. It never does before a disaster.
So how do religious people deal with their loving deity being terminally uncaring and/or impotent? They convince themselves their god is so great they cannot possibly understand his intentions. They tell themselves, and the rest of us, how great god is, how wonderful he is, how very mysterious he is. They try to convince us that it is all good and the greatness of god cannot be understood by us mere mortals, so we shouldn’t even try to understand why he did nothing to help the thousands of people who were praying, for days, for his help.
It makes me sick. It is called ‘battered wife syndrome’. Keep making (weak) excuses for the bad things done to you. Keep telling yourself whatever it is you need to tell yourself to make it ok that fifty thousand corpses are buried there, that thousands of children are orphans, that hundreds of thousands of people are starving, have no place to live, dying of thirst and disease. Whatever it takes.
I know why it happened. There was an earthquake. Pressure built up on a fault line inside the earth’s crust and on that particular night, in that particular place, the pressure was released in one go. There was nothing anybody could have done to stop it. There was very little that could be done to detect it. Shit happens. Very, bad, shit happens sometimes. It’s nobodies fault. Nobody could have stopped it from happening. Sure, strict building codes could have added a bit of buffer zone but building codes are not a top priority for the poorest country in the world. You worry about what you’re going to eat today not about the remote possibility of a random earthquake knocking your shanty down. It is a horrible thing, but it happens and we have to deal with it ourselves. This is why people are donating money left, right and centre. We do care and we know that no amount of wishing is going to make it better. We have to actually DO things to help.
There was an atheist, Johan, on Redi’s show today, who said pretty much that. I respect him for phoning in, and laying it out on air the way it really is and I respect Redi and her producers even more for giving him the chance. Respect to you all. The cherry on top for me were the callers and SMSes afterwards that wanted Johan’s number so they could help him find god. You pious assholes, what makes you think Johan, me, or any other atheist wants to ‘find’ and worship a mass murderer? Oh, you can bet your bottom dollar that if there was a man who knew this earthquake was coming and did nothing to prevent the deaths of 50,000 he would be taking a fuck ton of flak right now and would probably not live much longer. He would be a mass murderer in anybody’s book.
PS. Before you do anything, please read Why I Am An Atheist and think about it for a few moments.
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