Letter to the Editor: Hindsight leaves superstitious explanations in the dustSince the beginning of recorded history, lightning has been regarded as a display of power by the gods, used to punish and terrify the sinful.
Since the beginning of recorded history, lightning has been regarded as a display of power by the gods, used to punish and terrify the sinful. So it may or may not surprise you that when Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod in 1749, there was a religiously driven outcry from the public and the Church. What was their problem with it? Why, it went against the will of God, of course! Lightning, they argued, was intended for the unbelievers. A preacher of the time blamed the “iron points invented by the sagacious Dr. Franklin” for the earthquake that struck New England not long after.
We see in this country a frightful survival from ancient times. As our ancestors of old did, and as the people of New England did in the case of the lightning rods, many modern people persist in the belief that natural disasters and other such phenomenon are Acts of God, called down to punish our sins. Letters in local newspapers are disheartening reminders of this strange line of thinking. One in particular stands out in my mind, which bluntly stated that last year’s June flood was the direct result of Minnesota’s acceptance of homosexuality.
Where is the logic in this? Fundamentalists blamed the tornado that slammed into Oklahoma in May on sin as well, despite the fact that Oklahoma is a part of Tornado Alley, where such weather is commonplace. Hurricane Katrina, which leveled New Orleans, was supposedly sent as retribution for tolerating — surprise! — homosexuals, yet again.
The thing is, we have explanations for natural disasters now. Tornadoes, hurricanes, and the like are storms that recur all the time. Lightning is a massive discharge of static electricity, not a weapon of an angry God. We are above superstitious thought.