Here in the United States, we have Pat Robertson, a Christian televangelist who’s declared that the earthquake in Haiti was a divine punishment, hundreds of years later, for the island’s supposed embrace of Satan. In Iran, they have Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, who explains that earthquakes there have been caused by women not following Islamic guidelines for their clothing. “Many women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes,” Sedighi says. “What can we do to avoid being buried under the rubble? There is no other solution but to take refuge in religion and to adapt our lives to Islam’s moral codes.”
Actually, there is another solution. Instead of wallowing in the fearful magical formulas of the past, Iran could educate its citizens more effectively, so that a new generation of engineers could design buildings that are more earthquake resistant.
Here in the United States, we could do a better job of following that same advice. Instead of treating science as a boring province for geeks, we could provide our children with a future in which they have more to protect them than the impotence of prayer.