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Published:April 21st, 2010 10:25 EST
The "Real" Cause of Earthquakes

The "Real" Cause of Earthquakes

By Geoff Dean

 

Plate tectonics? Overrated. Fault lines? Immaterial. Seismology? Seis-schmology!

 Forget everything you learned (or were supposed to, anyway) in Earth Science class. The "real" cause of earthquakes is not deep with the shifting plates of the earth.

 Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, the acting Friday prayer leader of Tehran, Iran, a highly influential position in the Islamic Republic despite his headache of a name, has declared that earthquakes are directly related to "female promiscuity". While I can`t help but wonder how females "fornicate" without male assistance, it is hard to argue with the logic.

 He adds that "many women who do not dress modestly (that is to say, wear the head-to-toe burqa)...lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity, and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes." Got that, everyone? First, it is not the fault of "young males" who are merely "led astray". Secondly, there is a direct connection between how one dresses and the "spread of adultery." And finally, earthquakes are "destined" to occur as a result.

 For the record, the "immodest women" are hardly Iranian Lady Gaga wannabes. He is complaining that some young women wear tight coats and scarves pulled back to expose some hair. See a little hair; see an earthquake in the making.

 I can`t help but recollect a similar vibe from former Presidential candidate and current televangelist, Pat Robertson, who attributed the Haitian earthquake to a "pact with the devil" made, in his view, by slave leaders seeking independence from France. Earthquakes, far from natural phenomenon, are divine retribution. Oddly enough, the conservative Christian preacher and the Islamic prayer leader seem to be on the same page.

 So what did the Chileans and Tibetan Chinese do to deserve their "punishments"?

 How should we prepare for the inevitable future "big ones"? 

 Tougher building codes? More earthquake-proof builidngs? Better shelters? Advanced warning technology? Don`t waste your time, advises Sedighi. "There is no other solution than to take refuge in religion and adapt our lives to Islam`s moral codes."

 One who might question the "earthquakes as punishment for sin" approach of Sedighi and Robertson is a Jewish rabbi and teacher by the name of Jesus. He famously asked the question as to whether a group of people killed when a tower fell on them (an earthquake?) were more sinful that everyone else. And answered with a resounding "No!" An Old Testament friend of mine, Job, would similarly (and vehemently) disagree with the idea that natural disaster is a punishment for sin.

 Here in Tokyo, people are always worried about when the "big one" is going to strike and how many people will die. Earthquake drills are a regular feature of city life here, too. Who knew we just needed bigger hats and loose fitting coats?