Thank evolution for Christopher Hitchens, that’s all I can say. As I and other long-time readers hoped — nay, expected — Hitchens has commented on the deplorable reaction to the Haiti earthquake by the likes of Pat Robertson. In a fierce new column, his best for Slate in a good while, Hitchens not only explains why the Haiti earthquake happened (hint: the rupture of a geological fault), but reveals the stupidity of the various theodicies that have been floated in its aftermath.
From “A Fault is Not a Sin”:
Earthquakes and tsunamis are to be expected and can even to some degree be anticipated. It's idiotic to ask whose fault it is. The Earth's thin shell was quaking and cracking millions of years before human sinners evolved, and it will still be wrenched and convulsed long after we are gone. These geological dislocations have no human-behavioral cause. The believers should relax; no educated person is going to ask their numerous gods "why" such disasters occur. A fault is not the same as a sin.
However, the believers can resist anything except temptation. Where would they be if such important and frightening things had natural and rational explanations? They want the gods to be blamed. . . .
. . . As so often, the first priest out of the trap on this occasion was that evil moron Pat Robertson, who announced on the Christian Broadcasting Network that Haitians had long ago made an agreement with Satan to enlist diabolic help against French imperialism. The implication was clear ... for this offense, God would kill underfed Haitian babies in slums 200 years later. (He would also kill the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Joseph Serge Miot, and bring his cathedral down on his head, though since Pat Robertson doesn't really think that Catholics are proper Christians, there's perhaps scant irony there.) . . .
. . . Currently, the cry is that Robertson is out of step and that it is Christian charities that are doing the hardest work. By all means let the pious agree to keep God out of it (though I wonder if that doesn't make them feel slightly insipid). However, the heaviest lifting will, in fact, be done by nonreligious outfits like UNICEF and the International Red Cross (which may sound Christian, but isn't). The biggest work of all will be performed by carrier groups and airborne brigades of the United States, the taxpayer-financed forces of a secular republic. The vital next stage—beyond mere charity and rescue—will be to try and liberate Haiti's people from fear of witch doctors of all stripes and to educate them in the family planning that their country so urgently needs. Let's see how the various parties of God come out on that.
In the meantime, I urge everybody to think first as a human being, and to give as much as they can to any relief organization at all, but most especially by contacting the newest secular aid group at Non-Believers Giving Aid.