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A Fault Is Not a Sin - Comments

F_A_F's Avatar Comment 1 by F_A_F

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.

After the initial horror of what he had said had worn off, I found myself thinking "Well at least now this senile old monster has turned a vast number of people against him and his vile organisation". I can't see that he will win many hearts and minds with this sort of rubbish, and I only wish that influential people....Obama etc...will come out to condemn this sort of terrible statement.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 19:00:00 UTC | #432312

j.mills's Avatar Comment 2 by j.mills

Trenchant but not particularly relevant: Robertson is the only spouting wingnut that Hitch is able to cite on this one at present, so his own historical digs at religion are in danger of appearing equally opportunistic.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 19:06:00 UTC | #432314

RMIV's Avatar Comment 3 by RMIV

Hitchens gets it right again. He has every right to criticize Robertson.

"The problem that religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism. We cannot say that fundamentalists are crazy, because they are merely practicing their freedom of belief; we cannot even say that they are mistaken in religious terms, because their knowledge of scripture is generally unrivaled. All we can say, as religious moderates, is that we don't like the personal and social costs that a full embrace of scripture imposes on us. This is not a new form of faith, or even a new species of scriptural exegesis; it is simply a capitulation to a variety of all-too-human interests that have nothing, in principle, to do with God. " ~Sam Harris

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 19:32:00 UTC | #432321

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 4 by Mr DArcy

50,000 people die in a natural disaster, but a small boy luckily survives. It's a miracle! But only a tiny one according to The Times

I just wish God could be a bit more generous with his largess. Is the devil really hampering God's efforts? If so He can't be omnipotent.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 19:51:00 UTC | #432326

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 5 by Dr. Strangegod

Absolutely right, every word of it.

j.mills - I have to disagree. The historical examples were necessary to his point. And I think it was a good one, and well made.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 20:08:00 UTC | #432332

sara g's Avatar Comment 6 by sara g

I am glad someone finally explained what Robertson thought he was going on about. Looking it up would have involved hours of current events that I am worn out with being horrified by.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 20:13:00 UTC | #432334

scottishgeologist's Avatar Comment 7 by scottishgeologist

Once again, we have a catastrophic earthquake, 1000's dead, and the god botherers are giving us their spin on it

It was the same after the 2004 earthquake / tsunami and once again , the business of theodicy arises.

You get the "punishment for sin" brigade. You also get the "we see the love of God in the human response to the tragedy" BS

And then you get the ones who try to explain it "biblically"

So far I havent heard one of these yet, but no doubt they will come. Basic argument is this:

1) God creates heavens & earth - all perfect
2) Creates Adam and Eve
3) The eat the fruit, ie disobey
4) Sin enters the world and not only are all humans affected, but the "whole of creation" as well.

Scripture proof for this is: Romans 8:22

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time"

So thats it - no plate tectonics, no mantle convection, no subduction, no Benioff zones, no deep ocean trenches, until Adam and Eve take a bite and the whole thing goes pear shaped

Wee Flea wrote about this. Worth reading again just to see how crazy it all is:


Sun, 17 Jan 2010 20:15:00 UTC | #432335

epeeist's Avatar Comment 8 by epeeist

Comment #451352 by scottishgeologist:

Wee Flea wrote about this. Worth reading again just to see how crazy it all is:
The real lunatic on this one is Richard Swinburne:
Suppose that one less person had been burnt by the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Then there would have been less opportunity for courage and sympathy; one less piece of information about the effects of atomic radiation, less people (relatives of the person burnt) who would have had a strong desire to campaign for nuclear disarmament and against imperialist expansion.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 20:23:00 UTC | #432338

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 9 by Quetzalcoatl

Another good article by Hitchens.

I always view the claims made about these horrific events by religious believers as attempts to comfort themselves. Now, it's obviously not particularly comforting to think that what happened to Haiti is as a consequence of God's wrath, or the work of the Devil, or the sins of humanity. All three notions are reprehensible.

But I think, to some people, it is more comforting to believe one of the above than it is to accept the idea that ultimately no agency of any kind is responsible. That it is just something that happens, and is beyond our power to stop.

I can understand that wish, although I don't like it much.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 20:24:00 UTC | #432339

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 10 by mordacious1

I like the title...the article is good too.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 20:26:00 UTC | #432341

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 11 by InYourFaceNewYorker

In 1967, when actor Alan Arkin was asked what he was doing to stop the Vietnam War, he said, "I sit home and curse a lot."

Articles about this kind of stupidity always bring me back to that little anecdote about Alan Arkin.


Sun, 17 Jan 2010 20:32:00 UTC | #432343

jamiso's Avatar Comment 12 by jamiso

It never ends

""Why give thanks to God? Because we are here," Toussaint said. "We say 'Thank you God.' What happened is the will of God. We are in the hands of God now.""

Translation: "God is so great, thank you for saving ME...those other people, guess you had a good reason to kill them...God is awesome

""It's a catastrophe and it is God who has put this upon us," said Jean-Andre Noel, 39-year-old computer technician"

Guess he's in the Pat Robertson camp

Haitians praise God after apocalyptic quake:

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 21:09:00 UTC | #432355

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 13 by Quetzalcoatl

At the cathedral, the Rev. Toussaint described his own near-miraculous survival.

"I watched the destruction of the cathedral from this window," he said, pointing to a window in what remains of the archdiocese office. "I am not dead because God has a plan for me."

Such blatant arrogance. God obviously didn't have a plan for all the people who died, then, right?

And this from a man of the cloth. Shameful.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 21:12:00 UTC | #432360

scottishgeologist's Avatar Comment 14 by scottishgeologist

Quetz said:

"Such blatant arrogance. God obviously didn't have a plan for all the people who died, then, right?"

I love the way the faith heads selectively pick and choose with this sort of thing. Reminds me of an article I read about Sir Richard Dannatt. He said (about becoming a Christian):

And it all stems from the four occasions when he came close to death himself, twice while on active duty in Northern Ireland – where his efforts to save the life of one of his men earned him the Military Cross. When the penny dropped that God had been protecting him, this elite soldier became a Christian.

The first occasion was in 1973, amid rioting in Belfast, when he found himself stranded with two of his men in a Loyalist paramilitary area. A hail of gunfire cut down the other soldiers, fatally injuring one, while Sir Richard emerged completely unscathed.

The second incident took place during a mine-clearing operation in South Armagh in 1975, when an explosion killed his company commander, Major Peter Willis. Sir Richard had been walking alongside him moments before, but had stopped to study an aerial photograph.

The general's third brush with death came a few months later in Germany when he fell asleep at the wheel of a car but was fortunate to veer off into a field and stop safely, rather than into the steep bank and wood which bordered the route yards further on.

"On three occasions, God had shown me his love and protection and challenged me to make a complete commitment to him, but each time I failed to make the response that he wanted," says Sir Richard, who is vice-president of the Officers' Christian Union, and President of SASRA (The Soldiers and Airmen's Scripture Readers Association).
"Finally, I had to be stopped so that the lesson could be learned... God had no choice but to take a stick and beat me over the head."

That metaphorical beating came when he collapsed while serving in Germany, at only 26 years of age: "For the next three quarters of an hour no one saw me. I was lying on the floor of the cloakroom in Battalion HQ. My right side was paralysed and I couldn't talk sense. When a brother officer finally found me, I was rushed with blue lights flashing to the neurology department of a German hospital.

"Some while later my wife, Pippa, was found, and very gently told that she should not hope for too much. I had no doubt whatsoever that I would make a full recovery, but I did not know why I felt so sure.

"Medically, I had all the symptoms of a classic stroke, supposedly unheard of at 26, and equally strangely there appeared to be no physical cause. Every test that a modern teaching hospital can think of had been tried, and there was no explanation. However, the treatment remained the same – at least four weeks firmly in bed. My mind cleared first, and my speech returned to normal within hours. My right arm loosened up in a few days and my right leg slowly came back to life.

"The opportunity to step back for four weeks from the normal bustle and business of life is an opportunity that very rarely presents itself. For me, as alarming as the initial circumstances were, four weeks enforced rest as a spectator on life, rather than as a participant, had enabled me to clear my head and allow God to speak to me.

"Although I had been a follower of Christ for several years, I knew that I had only ever given part of my life to him. I'd kept a part for myself. As I lay in bed recovering, I began to reflect that God wanted all of my life, not just part, and that he had challenged me about this in the recent past.

"Obviously the physical discomfort of collapsing and being paralysed was not trivial; neither was the mental anguish an easy burden for Pippa. However, as the years have gone by and the significance of the lessons realised, we are both able to rejoice and praise God for his mysterious and loving ways

========= ends

I love this stuff. God had a plan for HIM. F*ck the other soldier who died in the attack, God made sure that HE was ok. Wonder what the other guys widow makes of it all

"His mysterious and loving ways" What utter horse-shit.



Sun, 17 Jan 2010 21:23:00 UTC | #432365

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 15 by Quetzalcoatl


And in the same breath, they will then turn around and proclaim how humbled they are, that they have been saved by God's grace.

Humble. Yep. Sounds it.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 21:54:00 UTC | #432373

Dave Porter's Avatar Comment 16 by Dave Porter

The most absurd outcome from what the lunatic Robertson said is there are still an amazing number if even dumber Americans that hang on his every word.

They probably called Robertson's TV program "The 700 club" because he is under contract to say 700 absolutely absurd statements before he is canceled. He must be getting close.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 21:55:00 UTC | #432374

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 17 by Border Collie

Witty title, but when is CH not witty? I like natural processes. Would the island even be there without the same geological processes? Would we have April showers, May flowers, etc., blah, blah, if not for the same atmosphere that creates tornados, lightning, hail, wind and hurricanes? No god is punishing anyone for any human thought or deed or anything else. Now, if Pat Robertson gets struck by lightning, I might rethink my attitude. Hmmm? 'nough said.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 22:02:00 UTC | #432379

Mitch Kahle's Avatar Comment 18 by Mitch Kahle

Where would we be without Christopher Hitchens?

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 22:20:00 UTC | #432385

Summer Seale's Avatar Comment 19 by Summer Seale

I wrote on LGF a few days ago when Pat Robertson went off about the Devil in Haiti that I initially was extremely angry by his statement.

But then I thought about it for a while and I couldn't really have been happier.

The fact is that I don't really care what Pat Robertson says. Listening to Pat Robertson spout off his usual stupid nonsense and caring about it is sort of like caring about what a psychopathic mentally unstable person says about you in prison - nothing you really should care about.

He's a nothing. He's a deranged, stupid, mind. He doesn't know anything about science which actually has helped billions of people live better lives than they used to a scant 100 years ago. He is, to put it at its mildest, a stupid fucking idiot.

So why should I care what he says about Haiti? He doesn't even understand what the hell a fault line is, let alone what a geological process means.

No, the one thing I think about now when I remember that statement is how glad I am that Pat Robertson is around.

The reason is simple: What better way of showing people the idiocy of religion? Seriously, he's the Atheist gift that keeps on giving.

Him, Osama bin Laden, and all the rest of the psychopaths who claim to know "god's mind" - what better way to show people how stupid it all is?

Naturally, I'm pissed that people follow them. But I have to make light of the situation or I'll go batshit insane. And also: living with idiots and morons is just part of life.

No, I won't get raging mad over what he said. I'll point at him and laugh for being the moron that he is. And quite frankly, everyone else should as well.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 22:43:00 UTC | #432394

Buckaroo Banzai's Avatar Comment 20 by Buckaroo Banzai

TBH, I am usually "facepalm" about anything that comes out of that mentally deranged idiot Pat Robertson, but I say this in all truthfulness, I wish someone would take a rusty cross and impale him on it. I can't believe this guy isn't off the air. Seriously, the guy is no different than a Islamic militant declaring a fatwa, only difference is he doesn't bow towards Mecca.

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 23:41:00 UTC | #432418

Ron Millam's Avatar Comment 21 by Ron Millam

In his article, CH said

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.

Ahh - if only. If only the US was actually a secular republic. But it's not. It could be -- the basic laws are there, but they're too often ignored. Too often, our leaders "pray" for divine guidance before making important decisions (at least, that's their claim). I fear far too many of them put the Bible ahead of the Constitution.

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 00:52:00 UTC | #432429

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 22 by Reckless Monkey

Hitchens has every right to point out Pat Robertsons comments. Those who feel he doesn't characterise the Bible correctly might want to have a better read of the Bible.

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 01:20:00 UTC | #432438

Crazycharlie's Avatar Comment 23 by Crazycharlie

Mitch Kahle@#451402

I agree. Where would we be without Christopher Hitchens?

And be sure to read all the way to the end of his article, if you haven't already, to where he tells us...

"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."

You know, Richards' aid campaign that you call in another thread "tasteless".

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 03:53:00 UTC | #432473

cornbread_r2's Avatar Comment 24 by cornbread_r2

"The Earth's thin shell was quaking and cracking millions of years before human sinners evolved..."

Not according to some Christians. I've been reading an apologist site's comment board and some there are of the opinion that there wouldn't be earthquakes if it weren't for original sin.

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 05:51:00 UTC | #432485

PERSON's Avatar Comment 25 by PERSON

"Robertson is the only spouting wingnut that Hitch is able to cite on this one at present"
Perhaps. But the meme about devil worship did not originate with Robertson.
This page includes the original clip.

The earthquake was just about geology the way Katrina was just about weather. Perhaps Hitchens makes that point.

Anyway, here's some more background:

Likely/possible consequences:
(see also )

And let's recall Fox' initial reaction. Essentially, "who gives a shit?"

Don't underestimate Robertson. He had a direct line to the president, and still does to a large number of Republican senators and other movers and shakers. The man is apparently worth $0.4 to $1bn. Here's how he made some of his money in the DRoC :,-Freedom-Gold-and-Blood-Diamonds

A couple of other interesting things:
David Brooks gets in on the act, too.
"Port of Prince": The Heritage foundation's "Expertise" exhibited?

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 10:11:00 UTC | #432535

the great teapot's Avatar Comment 26 by the great teapot

"The implication was clear ... for this offense, God would kill underfed Haitian babies in slums 200 years later"

Well, having read the bible I would say yup, that's pretty much how God works.
Christopher clearly doesn't know his scriptures.

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 11:47:00 UTC | #432572

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 27 by Roger Stanyard

j.mills says

Trenchant but not particularly relevant: Robertson is the only spouting wingnut that Hitch is able to cite on this one at present, so his own historical digs at religion are in danger of appearing equally opportunistic.

Nah. Robertson speaks for vast numbers of American fundamentalists, perhaps 20-25% of the population. He is rich (very), powerful (very) and influential because he is a product of American thinking, not an isolated individual.

Follow the money on this. Why has he come out with this crap? My guess - because there is no money in Haiti for him. It diverts cash donations away from his religious "movement" and business empire at a time when money is tight. There are no investment opportunities for him in impoverished Haiti and he isn't going to make any converts (at least, those with cash to hand over to him) there.

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 14:08:00 UTC | #432605

capetownian's Avatar Comment 28 by capetownian

Pat Robertson is cynical opportunist! We have someone similar in South Africa: Ray McCauley of the Rhema Church. They are amongst the greatest con artists around! As long as there are "lost souls" waiting to be saved with $ to give there will be a market for snake oil merchants!
Education (and more specifically the study of evolution) is the answer..but that has to start from childhood and the possibility of that happening outside of the secular world is not going to happen in my liftime or even my offspring!
But I do believe there are a growing number of people who pay lip service to their "faith" (probably out of respect to family or that deep seated cultural pull that binds many of us.) I can see this in my small circle of friends, family and acquaintances.

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 14:48:00 UTC | #432611


Observation, a scientific foundation, tells us that although this nutter, Robertson, is spewing his hatred, many in the religious community have been all over television denouncing his statements.

While I agree that people can take their beliefs too far, it gives no credential to ignore that a great many people, who are religious, have taken responsibility by standing up and denouncing Robertson's stupidology.

If you only look one way down a street, you only see things one way.

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 14:53:00 UTC | #432613

lewis.breland's Avatar Comment 30 by lewis.breland

I second this notion, Mr. Hitchens! Here, here!

Mon, 18 Jan 2010 16:34:00 UTC | #432662