What can we do about the aftermath of the earthquakes in Nepal?

In response to the earthquakes in Nepal, many religious people have suggested that this is  an indication of the endtimes, or that Yahweh is punishing the heathens (mostly Hindus) in that country for ignoring him, or that he is using it as an opportunity to allow Christians to share the good news of the love of Jesus Christ, etc. When challenged on whether such events cast doubt on the goodness of their deity, the response is that God is by nature good, but there are some bad things that are simply beyond his control. (Philosopher Steven Law argues that the nature of our world is just as well explained by a God who is by nature *evil* but some good things that happen are simply beyond his control.)

As a rationalist and naturalist, all I can say is that sometimes crappy stuff just happens – the universe was not designed for the happiness, comfort and convenience of humans. At this writing, the death toll from the Nepal earthquake and aftershocks is nearing 5000, and has been predicted to rise as high as 10000. According to the UN, about 1.4 million people will need food aid.

Religious people often credit God for motivating their altruism, but the science shows that humans have evolved as social animals, so wanting to help others is a natural trait (and altruism has also been observed in other animals such as vampire bats and rats ).

For those who want to help, here are a few suggestions for making donations to secular* organizations:

Canadian Government Gift Matching Program:  For donations made by individual Canadians to registered Canadian charities between April 25 and May 25, the Government of Canada will contribute an equivalent amount to the Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. This matching contribution will support humanitarian, early recovery and reconstruction assistance in Nepal through projects undertaken by Canada’s international humanitarian and non-governmental partners (up to a maximum of $100 000).



  $75 can provide emergency food for 15 days

  $112 can provide clean drinking water for 12 families

  $220 can provide emergency shelter to a family of 4




* for those who want to discuss the meaning of the term “secular” see this post.

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Attorney general, Six Nations, McMaster Children’s Hospital Have Good News!

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Earth Day Quizzes

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates Earth Day: Take the Google Earth Day: Which animal are you? quiz. I’m “a honey badger!” My true friends know that they can always call on [me] to scare away lions or fight a king cobra. Then try the Guardian Earth Day quiz.

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