Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CCC: Earthquakes 101

RR: "Welcome class, to Earthquakes 101 here at Christian Community College. I'm your professor, Reverend Rick. Today we will be discussing the earthquake in Haiti. 6 months ago, a devastating earthquake left Haiti in a pile of rubble. We will look at how and why this terrible disaster happened."
Independent Thinker: "I know how earthquakes happen, Rev Rick. They are the result of shifts in tetonic plates."
RR: (Completely ignoring IT's comment) "The Haitian people made a deal with Satan and have been worshipping darkness for generations. God sent visited this devastation upon them as punishment for their evil ways."
IT: "Isn't Roman Catholicism the national religion of Haiti?"
RR: "That's just a cover-up by the government to hide their voodoo rituals from decent society. Moving on, God unleashed his wrath on the Haitian people in the form of this terrible earthquake. Can anyone tell me why God is angry at them?"
Brain-Washed Student: "Because God is a jealous god who has commanded 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me' and wanted Haitians to stop worshipping Satan and spirits?"
RR: "That's right, BWS. This was a warning. If they don't change their ways, they might be wiped out like Sodom and Gomorrah."
IT: "Sounds more like a pouty kid trying to get attention than an all-powerful god to me. What did he do, stamp his foot and make the earth shake? That sounds way more likely than plates under the earth's crust shifting."
RR: "I don't appreciate your tone, IT. I'm assigning you a research project to assist in tomorrow's lecture."
IT: "Research, seriously?"
RR: "I want you to look up statistics on earthquakes. Find out how many occur each year, their strength and the amount of damage. I want to show the class how rare a quake as massive as this are and what a record number of people died and how as the world moves farther away from God, there are more and more quakes."
The next day...
IT: "My research shows that earthquakes are random events with magnitudes and frequencies all over the board. While there does seem to be a bit of an increase in recent years of stronger quakes, this is likely due to natural processes. Although this particular quake was quite strong, the USGS lists over twenty of a stronger magnitude world-wide since then. The extreme damage incurred in Haiti is due to poor structural integrity and large population of the urban Port-au-Prince area. Most other quakes occurred in less populated areas and/or in places with stricter building standards."
RR: (obviously surprised at the facts differing from his theory) "Thank you for your research, IT. Moving on, let's take a quick peek at next week's topic: 'Hedonism in Hollywood: Why California is prone to Earthquakes'. Class dismissed."

Author's Note: This fictional college scene is based on an actual conversation I had with my father, a lay minister, after his relief trip to Haiti. For further research, please visit usgs.gov to see a year-by-year breakdown of quakes world-wide. This post in no way intends to make light of the suffering of victims of this and other natural disasters.

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