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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hypocricy About Haiti???

Anyone who bothers telling you that atheists and "skeptics" are not subject to group think is clearly lying through their own teeth. With the recent Haiti earthquake being a hot-button issue, Richard Dawkins made a few commentary points on the controversial remarks of Pat Robertson, who noted that the earthquake in Haiti was due largely in part because of Haiti's "pact with the devil". And in another one of his efforts to show that modern day Christians don't have the slightest clue of their religion's beginnings (which is only for the mostpart true, as even Holding would argue), John uses Dawkins' article to lend credibility to his site. But what else is new, even if we are in a new decade?

I was thinking of doing my own post on this topic. I have heard Christians say Pat Robertson is a moron for suggesting the Haitian disaster was a divine judgment for too long now. No, they are the morons. Pat Robertson represents Christian tradition, not them, as Dawkins said in a Washington Post column:

Haiti and the hypocrisy of Christian theology
By Richard Dawkins

We know what caused the catastrophe in Haiti. It was the bumping and grinding of the Caribbean Plate rubbing up against the North American Plate: a force of nature, sin-free and indifferent to sin, un-premeditated, unmotivated, supremely unconcerned with human affairs or human misery.

The religious mind, however, restlessly seeks human meaning in the blind happenings of nature. As with the Indonesian tsunami, which was blamed on loose sexual morals in tourist bars; as with Hurricane Katrina, which was attributed to divine revenge on the entire city of New Orleans for harboring a lesbian comedian, and as with other disasters going back to the famous Lisbon earthquake and beyond, so Haiti's tragedy must be payback for human sin. The Rev. Pat Robertson sees the hand of God in the earthquake, wreaking terrible retribution for a pact that the long-dead ancestors of today's Haitians made with the devil, to help rid them of their French masters.

Needless to say, milder-mannered faith-heads are falling over themselves to disown Pat Robertson, just as they disowned those other pastors, evangelists, missionaries and mullahs at the time of the earlier disasters.

What hypocrisy.

Loathsome as Robertson's views undoubtedly are, he is the Christian who stands squarely in the Christian tradition. The agonized theodiceans who see suffering as an intractable 'mystery', or who 'see God' in the help, money and goodwill that is now flooding into Haiti , or (most nauseating of all) who claim to see God 'suffering on the cross' in the ruins of Port-au-Prince, those faux-anguished hypocrites are denying the centrepiece of their own theology. It is the obnoxious Pat Robertson who is the true Christian here.

Where was God in Noah's flood? He was systematically drowning the entire world, animal as well as human, as punishment for 'sin'. Where was God when Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed with fire and brimstone? He was deliberately barbecuing the citizenry, lock stock and barrel, as punishment for 'sin'. Dear modern, enlightened, theologically sophisticated Christian, your entire religion is founded on an obsession with 'sin', with punishment and with atonement. Where do you find the effrontery to condemn Pat Robertson, you who have signed up to the obnoxious doctrine that the central purpose of Jesus' incarnation was to have himself tortured as a scapegoat for the 'sins' of all mankind, past, present and future, beginning with the 'sin' of Adam, who (as any modern theologian well knows) never even existed? To quote the President of one theological seminary, writing in these very pages:

"The earthquake in Haiti, like every other earthly disaster, reminds us that creation groans under the weight of sin and the judgment of God. This is true for every cell in our bodies, even as it is for the crust of the earth at every point on the globe."

You nice, middle-of-the-road theologians and clergymen, be-frocked and bleating in your pulpits, you disclaim Pat Robertson's suggestion that the Haitians are paying for a pact with the devil. But you worship a god-man who - as you tell your congregations even if you don't believe it yourself - 'cast out devils'. You even believe (or you don't disabuse your flock when they believe) that Jesus cured a madman by causing the 'devils' in him to fly into a herd of pigs and stampede them over a cliff. Charming story, well calculated to uplift and inspire the Sunday School and the Infant Bible Class. Pat Robertson may spout evil nonsense, but he is a mere amateur at that game. Just read your own Bible. Pat Robertson is true to it. But you?

Educated apologist, how dare you weep Christian tears, when your entire theology is one long celebration of suffering: suffering as payback for 'sin' - or suffering as 'atonement' for it? You may weep for Haiti where Pat Robertson does not, but at least, in his hick, sub-Palinesque ignorance, he holds up an honest mirror to the ugliness of Christian theology. You are nothing but a whited sepulchre.

The entirety of John's post can be found here:

What I'm about to follow through with will address the views of Loftus and Dawkins directly. The issue of "hypocricy" might seem convenient given that most Christians today have little vested interest in the laws of the Old Testament. But in order to sift through the context in which Pat Robertson made his remark, we shall have to look at the picture as a whole:

If you listen to Pat's words closely enough, you will notice that he deliberately makes a comparison between Haiti and its neighboring islands. He blames Haiti's misfortunes on its voodoo practices. Unfortunately for Robertson's logic, most if not all of the Carribean islands and their neighbors are guilty of practicing some remnant form of voodooism. In light of this, you have only two options:

1) Pat Robertson speaks out on a topic he knows very little about (as always).

2) Pat Robertson is trivializing the tragedy in order to make his movement more widespread.

All theology aside, there is no hypocricy on behalf of Christians for pointing out Pat Robertson's misconduct here.


  1. I'd like to link you to this blog post by Glenn Peoples on the same topic:

    Glenn makes note that it has never been the Christian perspective that tragedies are generally due to specific sins of the victims, or that we should look for reasons to blame the victims when disaster strikes, as well as pointing out that a few specific cases where the Bible does blame tragedy on specific sins does not in the least establish it the Bible's teaching about tragedy in general. Additionally, he notes that Jesus addresses this exact issue, coming to a completely different conclusion, namely that the victims are no worse than any of us - "repent, or likewise perish."

    Loftus makes an appearance in the comments to "counter" Glenn's rebuttal by restating exactly the same argument Dawkins used, only with a couple different specific cases. Also, to plug his book.

  2. John got absolutely SMOKED by Dinesh D'Souza last night. That's the news! He asked for it and he got it. There wasn't a single point that John successfully made and he was reduced to arguing against the "probability" of GOd and Christianity.
    Total reduction of an Internet atheist arguments to the nothing that they are. He didn't even get out of the gate...he said that somebody also helped him prepare-LOLLOLLOL!!!Who was that clown? Advice for John, don't use whoever that was anymore!

  3. Biblically speaking, Robertson's comments are not out of line.

    God has punished entire nations of people for the sins of some (the Flood, the destruction of the Amalekites and Jericho which included the intentional slaying of infants).

    He is not obliged to punish everyone in the same manner, so the fact that Haiti's neighbors practice voodoo is irrelevant. The God of the Bible has afforded some peoples the opportunity to repent with a warning (Ninevah), others He has not (Sodom and Gomorrah).

    I'm not saying I think Robertson was correct in his judgments, but given the tendencies of the God of the Bible to punish many for the sins of a few (after all, isn't original sin a system He devised whereby everyone "inherits" the guilt of a distant ancestor?), Pat isn't just pulling this stuff out of nowhere.

  4. Yes, all of that stuff happens in the Bible. But the point I was making is that Pat was trivializing Haiti's circumstances because of their religious practices. Ask yourself what is more likely: Haiti experienced a devestating earthquake because of voodoo or because of the fact that the island lies in an area of high seismic activity?

  5. TBT writes: "Ask yourself what is more likely".

    Again, I'm uncertain of the relevance of "likelihood". The Christian religion really isn't founded on likelihoods, it's founded on the non-intuitive, the miraculous and the "scandalous" to the worldly.

    I'm playing devil's advocate here, and I happen to be on your side of the fence in terms of Robertson.

    I'm not fond of Dawkins' sweeping generalizations and the false conclusions he sometimes makes. There are many Christians with a profound sense of empathy.

    However, Dawkins is correct when it comes to Christians' ability to interpret or rationalize away the brutalities of the Bible. I just spent numerous posts on another blog trying to pin down whether sticking a sword into the belly of an infant during a war of hand-to-hand combat is a moral evil, per se. They couldn't (or wouldn't) say.


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