The Gods must be crazy…

But you can certainly accuse the Catholic Church of ‘encouraging’ that same warped belief… by giving it more importance (and credence), than the human tragedy that is actually unfolding in that country, before our very eyes

I know they say that ‘God moves in mysterious ways,’ and all that; but… aren’t we taking things just slightly too far, now?

In case you were wondering: I’m not talking about the Biblical deluge He unleashed upon these islands, over the past few days. For let’s face it: we’ve all been ‘praying for rain’ since around the end of October, at least. So it would hardly be fair of us all to actually complain… when God actually DOES ‘answer our prayers’, for a change (and with interest, too!)

No, the sort of cataclysm I had in mind was more along the lines of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria this week; and which – at the time of writing – has left a staggering 22,000 people dead (with more bodies being pulled out the rubble, as we speak).

And even, if it comes to it, the much less devastating (though still ‘unnerving’) spate of tremors and mini-earthquakes, that we ourselves have been experiencing over the past month or so.

Not, mind you, that I myself hold God Almighty in any way ‘responsible’ for any of that (how can I, when I don’t really believe He even exists?); and I could extend that to all sorts of other natural catastrophes, too: from tsunamis in the Indian Ocean; to droughts and famine in sub-Saharan Africa; to tornadoes in the American Midwest; to any number of floods, landslides, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, bush-fires, in any other part of the world.

No, indeed. If I were on the jury, trying God for the crime of “premeditated mass-murder of (literally) trillions of people, throughout history”… I would have to return a ‘Not Guilty’ verdict, for sheer lack of conclusive evidence.

But that’s just me: and I’m hardly the only human being on this planet, am I?

As for everyone else: well, it seems that a fairly large number of those people who DO actually ‘believe in God’, also believe that He WAS, in fact, responsible for those same calamities.

And not only that: but they also argue that the same God actually chose to inflict all that death and devastation, upon so many innocent men, women and children… DELIBERATELY. (In order to ‘send us a message’, no less…)

Now: once again, I feel compelled to include a small disclaimer here. There is, after all, such a thing as human right to ‘freedom of religion’; so if other people choose to hold down such archaic beliefs, in their own personal capacity… well, so be it.

As far as I can see, however: such beliefs DO become slightly problematic… when they start influencing (or trying to influence) the entire policy direction of any given country.

That includes Malta: where these same absurd ideas are now being propagated, not just by random ‘nobodies’ on the Internet – in which case, I wouldn’t even bother with them at all – but by individuals (and institutions) who actually wield considerable sway and influence, over Malta’s entire political establishment.

Let’s start with one of the lesser influences: a certain Karen Zerafa Boffa, who – while not exactly a ‘household name’ – is (or was) a member of the NGO Repubblika: having even run for its Presidency, in October 2020.

On 25 January, Karen Zerafa Boffa posted that: “I believe in a spiritual realm separated from the physical one by a very thin veil. I believe that God will not stand by and allow us to continue losing our souls by the thousands, and our direction as a country. He will not stand by as we violate the most sacred Gift of all – LIFE.

“I do not believe that the timing of these tremors is a coincidence.

“Throughout history God has always used natural phenomena to communicate with us. I don’t believe in God sending punishment, but I believe that our evil deeds and intentions do bring evil upon us all as a nation. […]”

Now: to be fair, she also added that “you may call me a medieval religious zealot, and you can go ahead and think so for all I care” (and who can possibly disagree with that, huh?)

But the point here is not ‘what we all think of Karen Zerafa Boffa’; it is what her argument actually implies: coming, as it does, from someone who aims to influence government legislation, on matters that affect you, me, and everybody else’s dog.

As such, the argument cannot really go unchallenged. So let’s try a little experiment: and see where Zerafa Boffa’s own logic actually takes us all, in the end.

Starting with her primary claim: i.e., that “God has always used natural phenomena to communicate with us.”

The word ‘always’ is rather significant, in that sentence: seeing as how Planet Earth has existed for well over 4 billion years … and ‘Life on Earth’ did not actually appear at all, until around 2 billion years later (with human beings only popping up at the eleventh hour: in the last million or so years).

And given also that the Earth’s current geology clearly indicates that earthquakes – and especially, volcanic eruptions – have been taking place throughout all that time (since the very beginning, in fact: when the entire planet was just a swirling mass of molten rock)… well, what was God tyring to ‘communicate’, through all those earlier natural calamities?

More to the point: who was His message even intended for, anyway?  The human beings who wouldn’t actually evolve, for another two or three billion years?

I don’t know: maybe we’re all being a little too harsh on those ‘medieval religious zealots’. After all, they had an excuse for their ignorance: they knew little-to-nothing about geological history; and even less about the actual causes of phenomena such as earthquakes.

But that, I fear, is just the start. For even if do we accept the bizarre premise, that ‘natural calamities’ are ‘God’s way of communicating with us’… what makes people like Karen Zerafa Boffa so very certain of what God’s message even is, to begin with?

For instance: if God is so very ‘displeased’ with us in Malta, at this precise juncture in time…  who’s to say that it’s because “we are discussing the partial decriminalisation of abortion” (and even then: only with the express purpose of “safeguard women’s health and lives”)?

For all we know, it could just as easily be the other way round: i.e., that God is ‘displeased with us’, yes… not because we’re ‘discussing abortion’; but because we’re not doing anywhere near enough, to ‘safeguard the health and lives of Maltese women’ [who, unless am I much mistaken, also qualify as ‘God’s creations’… even if he did create them out one of Adam’s spare ribs.]

I could go on, of course:  if God’s message really was ‘against the introduction of abortion in Malta’… then, um, why is He only picking on Malta? Other countries have ‘introduced abortion’, too, you know; and ALL of them have introduced it to a much greater degree, than we are discussing doing right now.

And yet, I don’t recall the entire European continent – or the United States, for that matter – being wiped out altogether, by a never-ending series of devastating natural calamities… each and every time one of those countries (or states) dared passing legislation to ‘introduce abortion’, against God’s will.

And this forces us towards one of two possible conclusions. Either the God we are all expected to believe in, is ‘the God of only the Maltese people’ (to the exclusion of all nationalities and races)…. in which case, we’d also have to ask ourselves who (or what) is actually responsible for other catastrophes, in other parts of the world…

Or else, that God Himself is… well, something of a ‘jerk’, at the end of the day. (And that’s putting it mildly: when human beings are directly responsible for the deaths of over 22,000 people, in one fell swoop… we usually tend to call them ‘psychopathic mass-murderers’).

This brings me to another example: much more serious this time, because it emanates from no less than the Catholic Church itself (which, as we all know, wields a LOT more power and influence, in this country, than Karen Zammit Boffa).

Consider, for a moment, how – a subsidiary of Beacon Media Group Ltd, a Church-owned media company – reported the Turkey earthquake last Wednesday (i.e., just two days after it actually happened):

The headline was: ‘In Turkey, a statue of Our Lady remained intact during the earthquake’.   And this is the first paragraph, in full: ‘A statue of the Virgin Mary remained intact, after the cathedral it was in was destroyed by the earthquake. This Marian effigy was in the town of Alexandra, in the Turkish province of Hotkay’.”

It was only after imparting this hugely important nugget of information – i.e., that a ‘lifeless piece of carved stone’ happened to somehow survive the destruction that befell so much of the rest of the country – that Newsbook bothered adding, as an afterthought, that:

“In these earthquakes that have struck Turkey and Syria, more than 11,000 people have so far lost their lives…”

Now: leaving aside the sheer insensitivity, of a story that assigns more news-value to a ‘Statue of Our Lady’, than to the ‘deaths of 11,000 human beings’ (who have since grown to 22,000, and counting)… what does that tell us, about how the Catholic Church [Note: the same story was also carried on the international ‘Catholic News Agency’] interprets the earthquake itself?

In all fairness: you cannot realistically accuse the Church of ‘propagating’ the view, that God somehow ‘sent us a message’ by choosing to destroy most of Turkey (while sparing only one, single, solitary ‘Holy Statue’).

But you can certainly accuse the Catholic Church of ‘encouraging’ that same warped belief… by giving it more importance (and credence), than the human tragedy that is actually unfolding in that country, before our very eyes.

Either way, however: the resulting message isn’t exactly very flattering towards God Almighty Himself, is it? In fact, it almost makes you wonder what the Church – and its more over-zealous advocates – even think they’re trying to achieve, at all: by painting out their own God to be some kind of heartless, homicidal MONSTER…