Posted: 2020-05-03

FUNDAMENTALIST religious believers love to blame natural disasters on God.

FUNDAMENTALIST religious believers love to blame natural disasters on God. Floods, storms and hurricanes are seen as an expression of God’s anger. Conveniently, God always seems to be angry about the same things they’re angry about: homosexuality, abortion, and immigrants being obvious examples. Alas, God never seems to get angry about disease, war and poverty.


The DUP councillor John Carson (above) tweeted that the coronavirus was God’s punishment for Ulster’s new abortion and same-sex marriage laws. Contradictorily, he also backed the government’s ‘stay home’ policy to defeat it. Yet, apart from the dubious implication that what happens in that great wee province determines the fate of humanity, why has God waited so long to act?


Abortion was legalised in England and Wales in 1967 and it is less restrictive than in Northern Ireland (legal up to 24 weeks as opposed to 12). Why did God not punish the world 50 years ago? Do we conclude that Northern Ireland was ‘the last straw’? And what about all those places where abortion is illegal except in extreme cases? Why should they be punished for the sins of others?


As for same sex marriage, it is illegal in most non-European countries, yet covid-19 is rife in many, for example, Iran. Indeed homosexuality itself is illegal in many of these states, yet they have not escaped the pandemic.


The biggest puzzle of all is what Carson’s assertion implies about the morality of God. Abortion is supposedly a breach of God’s commandment: “thou shalt not Kill”. Yet God is exempt from his own rule and is permitted to kill on a massive and indiscriminate scale.


Christians insist that God is love, but the Old Testament tells a different story. God allegedly flooded the earth and killed nearly every living thing on it because, after many millennia of ‘turning a blind eye’, he became angry at human sin. As Richard Dawkins writes: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully” (The God Delusion).


There are more holes in John Carson’s logic than in a plate of macaroni. Yet what is certainly true is that the human species has been carelessly invading the ecological habitat of other species and exploiting animals with no respect for their integrity.  The illusion of the earth and her creatures as raw material to be used for profit and pleasure has created a world connected through disease and environmental disaster. 


Thus covid-19 is not a punishment of God for our personal sins but in a metaphorical sense the revenge of nature for our selfish pillage of the planet. We are the biggest virus of all.