The tsunami in Asia. This season's Gulf Coast hurricanes. The earthquake in Pakistan. The Guatemala mudslides. The flooding in the northeastern section of the United States.
There've been so many devastating natural disasters of late, it has some people wondering if God is angry at humankind.
So The Early ShowLiberty University in Lynchburg, Va.; scientist-entertainer Bill Nye, The Science Guy; and humorist Andy Borowitz of The Borowitz Report.
"I don't think God's mad at us," Falwell began, in answer to a question from co-anchor Harry Smith. "God may be disappointed. But, God so loved the world that he gave his son, Christ, to die for all of us. I do think that, if you look at history, there've always been calamities and disasters. They just happened in the last few months to have been all at one time. …I do believe that God certainly is the owner, he's the creator, he's sovereign. Nothing happens without his direction or permission. I do not believe that God is mad at anybody, trying to hurt anybody. He could breathe, and we'd all be gone. The fact is that he is trying to get our attention."
Nye concurred in thinking it's not that God is mad at us: "We have many, many people living on a small world. And we're increasingly living near the coasts. So, when things go wrong, with the weather, or when you have an underwater earthquake, when you get a tsunami, people at the coasts are affected.
"The other thing that's going on in the Northeast of our country is we've paved over so many wetlands that now we're not able to absorb floods the way we used to be able to. So we have to ask questions, is this really in everybody's best interests, or should we make better decisions about land use, and so on.
"It doesn't seem especially unusual to me. We have about 1,000 measurable earthquakes a year. There's an earthquake over 7 on the Richter scale every few weeks. So this is not especially unusual. What's unusual is that so many humans are being affected by it."
Nye added an ominous note though, saying, "It's just the start of things, in my opinion. Hurricanes are probably going to get stronger. If they don't get stronger, that'll be surprising. If you're a betting voter and taxpayer, as there's more heat energy in the atmosphere, you gotta figure hurricanes are gonna get stronger.
"And then we have to do a better job of making buildings able to withstand earthquakes. As the old saying goes, 'Earthquakes don't kill people, buildings kill people.' So, when you have these buildings built to, if you will, not Western standards, or the standards you have in a place like Japan, when there's a strong earthquake, there's a lot of trouble."
Humorist Borowitz had an entirely different path to the same conclusion about God's current emotions, saying, "I don't think God is mad. I think (N.Y. Yankee principal owner) George Steinbrenner is mad (about the Yankees' early exit from baseball's playoffs), but I don't think that explains any of this, at all. I will say though, it is a bad sign when."
Falwell says he doesn't think the world is ending anytime soon: "(Jesus) could come today. The mistake is made when people begin setting dates. Whenever somebody says he's coming on a certain date, be sure he's not, because Jesus said, 'No man knows the day or the hour.'
"The only thing that bothers me about all these terrible calamities is that we try to blame it all on the myth of global warming or, even worse, on George Bush, and I don't think either one had a thing to do with it."
Nye took exception to that: "The world is getting warmer. Now, people can argue about whether or not humans are responsible, and whether or not individuals driving large vehicles in the richest country in the world are responsible. But the world is getting warmer.
"And, as I say, if you're a gambling person, if you're a voter and taxpayer who's concerned about the future you can, as they say in 'The Music Man,' 'close your eyes to a situation you do not wish to acknowledge.' Or, you can address it. We could, as we like to say, 'have it all,' if we started now. We could have renewable energy, and a much higher quality of life for people all over the world, if we got to work on it now."
Finally, Smith turned to Borowitz, asking where the blame lies.
"I tend to blame Paris Hilton, for most things," Borowitz kidded. "And I think we have a lot of agreement on that."
When Smith noted that her show, "The Simple Life," had been