Haunted by demons

It’s nice to know that we can count on Religious Right figures to say something grossly stupid at regular intervals. This time it’s Pat Robertson, talking about how Haitians are paying for a past pact with the devil.

I guess liberal believers and the nonreligious can use the sense of outrage this produces for a short while. Not a bad thing too—the fact is that people such as Pat Robertson are not just buffoons who are media-fodder. They enjoy real power and influence.

Still, outrages aside, what scares me is the suspicion that for quite a lot of ordinary people, the suggestion that real-world troubles may have roots in supernatural forces is not that implausible. For a lot of us, demons continue to haunt the world.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15575410885851841473 Baconsbud

    You know there are a lot that take his words as fact no matter what he has said in the past. There have been many times he said this or that would happen and it didn't. He then will say something like it was our prayers that stopped it or anything else but admit he was wrong or a liar.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    What is the difference between Pat Robertson and philosophy professors at Notre Dame who suggest that natural disaster could be the free will actions of demonic agents?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13748714839511722758 Roy Overmann

    Robertson is only commenting in the old testament tradition. God sent plagues and completely destroyed cities of innocent people for no good reason. Perhaps Haiti's experience is similar.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    Steven Carr: "What is the difference between Pat Robertson and philosophy professors at Notre Dame who suggest that natural disaster could be the free will actions of demonic agents?."

    The professor isn't on TV all the time, and doesn't have the ear of presidents.

    Plus he's careful enough to be ambiguous about whether he really thinks that there are demons causing natural disasters or that his is just an exercise pointing out a loophole by which theists can get out of the implications of arguments based on natural evil.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12708768497461983779 nolandda

    The Haitian Revolution did begin at a Vodou Ceremony. Someone as wrapped up in conservative Christian nonsense as Robertson cannot see that as anything other than a "pact with the devil".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Revolution#1791_slave_rebellion

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haitian_Vodou#Haitian_Revolution

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05211466026535549638 Bradley Bowen

    Steven Carr said…

    What is the difference between Pat Robertson and philosophy professors at Notre Dame who suggest that natural disaster could be the free will actions of demonic agents?

    =======

    The difference is that in saying God did it, Pat Robertson implies that the earthquake was a good thing (God is by def. perfectly good, and would not do something evil.), while in suggesting that demons cause earthquakes, it is NOT implied that the earthquakes are good things.

    The view of the theistic philsophers is that God permits the evil of earthquakes that are caused by demons in order to make room for free will.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07451804424341802774 Zakath

    "The professor isn't on TV all the time, and doesn't have the ear of presidents."

    Additionally, let's not forget the good reverend was also a contender for the Republican presidential candidacy in 1988. He is very well connected politically, at least on the conservative side of things…