Five at 8 – 1/14/10: Where was God?

1) Can we ignore Pat Robertson, yet still look at Haiti from a spiritual and religious view? Let’s try. On his blog, The Livesay [Haiti] Blog, Troy and Tara Livesay write, “Sometimes life in Haiti leaves you wondering ‘Where are you God?’ and other times we witness miracles with our own eyes.” Writing on BeliefNet, Ben Witherington takes on Pat Robertson:

It is easier in some ways to explain what is not the case than to say what is the case when it comes to God and natural disasters like this earthquake, despite fundamentalist preachers who are apt to glibbly say things like— “Haiti is the center of voodoo in the Western hemisphere therefore God judged them.” This hardly explains why all the Christian relief agencies, and various orthodox Christians in Haiti are also reeling from the blow just now. Were they just in the wrong line of fire, or is God’s aim that bad???

“If God loves people, why does he wipe them out?” this blogger asks.

The BBC’s World Have Your Say program is asking the same question today.

Lots of people are, apparently:

Related: Google is updating its Google Earth pictures of Haiti. What slows the delivery of disaster aid? The lack of maps. Only 15 percent of the world is mapped:

Some other before-and-after pictures can be found here. CBS has obtained video of the earthquake:

2) If you watched the PBS special on Sam Cooke last night, you might have found yourself thinking of other singers who were signature voices of their generation. Otis Redding, perhaps. Teddy Pendergrass, too. Pendergrass has died at 59. He spent his last 28 years in a wheelchair.

3) Science! It may be possible to detect Alzheimer’s with an eye test.

How many minutes until Doomsday? They’ve brought back — or at least updated — the famous Doomsday Clock.

4) It’s odd that they weren’t saying mean things about the Minnesota Vikings’ player strategy when Tavaris Jackson was running the team. The Wall St. Journal analyzes how the Vikings go to the edge of a Super Bowl. The Journal alleges the Vikes “plundered” other teams, hinting at unfairness.

5) Five emotions you never knew you had: Elevation, interest, gratitude, pride, and confusion. These go along with the six in-your-face emotions: joy, sadness, anger, fear, surprise and disgust. New Scientist says these old-time emotions are so yesterday, and these newer ones deserve a place alongside.

Commentary: A legendary coach steps down, and a woman takes his place.


About 30 percent of teachers in Minnesota leave the profession within five years. It’s one of the factors involved in a drive, being discussed today on Midmorning, to put highly effective teachers into public classrooms. How could Minnesota schools get and keep the best teachers?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: The Bush Foundation recently announced a $40 million grant to significantly overhaul how K-12 teachers are recruited and trained in Minnesota. The goal of the project, which will be watched closely be educators around the nation, is to create and retain effective teachers and increase student achievement.

Second hour: As a young child in 1963, Nancy Rappaport lost her mother to suicide during a bitter custody battle. Years later she became a child psychiatrist and uses the lens of this expertise to understand the mystery of her mother’s depression and suicide.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: An update on the Haiti earthquake.

Second hour: Remebering Miep Gies, who helped shelter Anne Frank’s family from the Nazis. She died this week at age 100.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Before the earthquake, Haiti suffered from extreme poverty — and now, things are worse. The tiny island nation with a rich culture was has been hit hard. Haiti and the earthquake: before and after.

Second hour: TBD

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – We’ll have updates on rescue and recovery operations — on the arrival of humanitarian aid — and on mounting casualties.

  • Steve DeLaitsch

    That Pat Robertson, he sure is the good Sumaritan, isn’t he.

  • pflau

    God is currently relaxing in a heavenly resort. He retired about 250 years ago to spend more time with his family and work on his golf game.

  • Jim B.

    God is with the people of Haiti and all those who seek to help them in the wake of this terrible tragedy. May God watch over them all.

  • Dave

    I was moved this poem.

    Disaster is a general calling to all people for repentance. Clear skies are a general calling to all people for repentance. Same message, different passage.

  • Curt C.

    It’s just simply an utterly false premise to ask any sort of “why would a loving deity let this happen?” question without any good reason/evidence/rational basis, etc for thinking such a deity even exists in the first place. If one asks “why did Zeus let this happen?” the correct response isn’t “well Zeus works in mysterious ways”, the correct response is “well Zeus probably doesn’t exist, so it wasn’t anything this invented character ever had any control over.”

  • Bob Collins

    By definition, a question that asks “Where was God?” is pretty much limited to a response from people who believe he/she/it exists.

    It goes without saying that someone who does not believe that he/she/it exists wouldn’t ever consider the question.

    By its nature, the question explores the effect of disaster on one’s faith; not whether the faith exists in the first place.

  • Heather

    Maybe the question should not be “WHY did this happen,” but “What should we do in response?”

    And maybe Pat Robertson should try looking for the divine in the faces of the victims instead of running his hateful mouth.

  • Tyler

    I believe in God, but Pat Robertson’s comments reveal the problems in having theologically authoritative figureheads in belief structures.

    Hateful bigot.

  • Bob Collins

    I was kind of hoping to ignore Pat Robertson in this discussion.

  • Curt C.

    I take your point, Bob. And I realize attempting to reconcile one’s faith in a loving God with the brutal realities of the world exposed by such a disaster like that in Haiti can cause much anguish in the minds of believers, and as such is a timely question to ask. But I think you devalue my point. We are essentially arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. You don’t need to anguish over the answer, like many have in the past, if you don’t believe in angels. You can realize it’s just an academic exercise and move on. The same goes with “Where was God?” While theologians have argued for centuries over such questions, “why do bad things happen to good people?”,“why is there evil in the world?” without ever providing any sufficient enough answers to stop the masses from repeatedly asking the questions generation after generation, the atheist position actually does sufficiently answer the question, and if honestly acknowledged & accepted solves the cognitive dissonance over such inquiry & mental anguish. The question of “Where was God?” only arises from a train of thought that sites a top a house of cards, and I consider pointing that fact out is a responsible thing to do in this discussion.

  • Dave


    Christians have answered the question of the problem of evil. That man (“the masses”) perpetually struggles with the problem of suffering belies more about the nature of man than it does about the validity of either the Christian or the atheist perspective.

    Two widely-read contemporary Christian works on the problem of suffering are C. S. Lewis’s The Problem of Pain and D. A. Carson’s How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil.

  • Zeldapie

    People can believe that a supreme being created this universe, but who’s to say this creator continues to play an active role here? Isn’t it conceivable that God made the universe and that was that? A lack of interest or interference on God’s part goes a long way to explaining the horrific suffering in this world, i.e., God might exist, but he/she/it simply isn’t involved with this world.

  • John P.

    Well, if there IS a God, and he, she, or they actually are all-powerful, then God is a real jerk.