Wednesday, August 14, 2013


There are many interest groups out there with all kinds of selfish and lousy reasons for declaring that climate change is a fraud, and even if it isn't, why it should be ignored.

You know  most of the players of course.

I won't bother you with a list.

Today, I just want to focus on one group, one religious group.  I am talking about the powerful and even more influential disastrous effect on the debate which is the result of evangelical, fundamentalist, end times thinking.  The end times thinkers are intent one would think on creating the end times.  They want Jesus and they want him now.

It is indeed ironic as motherboard aptly puts it that:

"...conservatives often deride environmentalists who calling for policies to address climate change, as being "apocalyptic" or "alarmist" or preaching "gloom and doom." It's somewhat ironic, then, that the most steadfast critics of policies to defend civil society against climate change are also the most steadfast believers in religious Armageddon."

On top of this is the attitude that God controls the Earth and everything else, so it is blasphemous for anyone to interfere with the plan (well, of course, this only counts when the interference is with a plan that certain people happen to decide is God's plan...or something like that) or as it is put more clearly and succinctly at motherboard again, 

"...the big guy controls the Earth's climate, and even deigning to believe that puny humanfolk could mess with the temperature is blasphemy."

After all, what are we to make of the fact that a 2012 study by the Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with the Religion News Service found that nearly four in 10 US residents believe that recent patterns of extreme weather activity such as Hurricane Sandy were evidence that the world is coming to an end as predicted in the Bible.  In fact,  nearly 65 percent of white evangelical Protestants said the storms are evidence of fulfillment of "end times" prophecies.

And if the Bible predicts it, really what can we do anyway?

Lisa Wellman-Tuck in a 2012 article on e-international relations writes;

When assessing end – times theology, it is clear that these beliefs have a defined influence on public attitudes towards action on climate change. Whilst non-believers may have an inherent concern for the future, ‘…end-times believers “know” that life on Earth has a preordained expiration date, no matter what—and that all Christians will be raptured before the going gets too tough’ (Barker and Bearce, 2012, p. 4). Following this premise, many fundamental religious organisations perceive efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change to be both futile and ill-advised.

In an interesting interview which I found at Climate Etc, .Dr. David Gushee, who is Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University is asked, " What are the ingredients of evangelical climate skepticism?"  He replies:

 I have suggested in some public lectures that there are several ingredients of evangelical climate skepticism:

1) Disdain for the environmental movement

2) Distrust of mainstream science in general (evolution vs. creationism is indeed a factor here for some)

3) Distrust of the mainstream media (nicely captured by Sarah Palin’s derisive term “lamestream media”)

4) Loyalty to the Republican Party

5) Libertarian economics as God’s will–God is opposed to government regulation or taxation

6) Misunderstandings of divine sovereignty–God won’t let us ruin creation

7) Unreconstructed Dominion theology–Genesis 1–God calls human beings to subdue and rule creation

To summarize, then: God is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no permanent damage. God entrusted the earth to human dominion and we should not be afraid of economic development or other uses of human creativity. God established government for very limited purposes such as providing for the common defense–government should not intervene much in the workings of a free market economy. The Republican Party has taken a skeptical posture toward climate and we support that posture and that party. The media is overplaying climate change worries, at the behest of scientists who cannot be trusted anyway; it may all be a conspiracy to limit our personal and business freedoms and tax us even more. The environmental movement is secular/pagan and has always been a threat to American liberties and has always been anti-business and exaggerated environmental problems.

It is hard for us (the us being you and me and those like you and me) to comprehend the numbers of people in this country who not only really believe this stuff, but are willing to see the world literally come to an end so that their peculiar superstitions can seem real.  It's weird.  These righteous Christians would shout to high hell if you told them there is no difference between this sort of thinking and those who thought the Greek, Roman, or Norse Gods caused all this stuff through their playing around with each other and sometimes just for amusement sake.  Yet, what is the difference really.

Can it really be true that a few million religious nuts will one day be one of the primary factors that led to the death of our planet as we know it, that were key players in the greatest of the great extinction events?  Sadly, yeah, it could.

The following is from Policymic.

Global Warming Debate: Study Shows Links Between End-Times Believers and Global-Warming Deniers

We millennials have seen and (obviously) survived a lot of doomsday fear-mongering over the years. From the Y2K scare, to the half-mad ravings of Harold Camping (as well as other warnings of Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus) to the worrying over the December 21 Mayan calendar prophecy, most of us are pretty immune and just ignore it. There are those who take it seriously though, seriously enough to where it affects the rest of us. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Colorado have found that belief in the biblical end-times has been a motivating factor behind a much of the resistance to curbing global climate change.

The study, carried out by David C. Parker (Univ. of Pittsburgh) and David H. Bearce (Univ. of Colorado) and set to be published in the June issue of Political Science Quarterly, is based on data gathered from the 2007 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. It has shown that belief in the “Second Coming” reduced the probability for strong support of government action on climate change by 12% after controlling for demographic and cultural factors. Once other effects such as party affiliation, ideology, and media distrust were removed the number jumped to 20%.

“The fact that such an overwhelming percentage of Republican citizens profess a belief in the Second Coming (76% in 2006, according to our sample) suggests that governmental attempts to curb greenhouse emissions would encounter stiff resistance even if every Democrat in the country wanted to curb them...It stands to reason that most nonbelievers would support preserving the Earth for future generations, but that end-times believers would rationally perceive such efforts to be ultimately futile, and hence ill-advised,” the study states. The most prominent evidence of the attitude comes from Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Environment and Economy. In 2010 Shimkus stated that he opposed action on climate change because “the Earth will end only when God declares it to be over.”

It's not really that surprising a find. If you think you and all the other True Believers are going to be whisked away to heaven, then you don't really have much incentive to care about the environment. The only ones who'll be left to it are all the non-Christians, and they of course deserve whatever ill befalls them for refusing to believe in the one true God. So since you're off to the land of sunshine and butterflies what does it matter if the environment is damaged beyond repair? As one of the dedicated nonbelievers I'm patently unamused by this kind of selfish, backwards thinking. It really does boggle my mind that how scientifically and environmentally illiterate men like Lamar Smith and John Shimkus have managed to rise to positions of power in committees dealing with issues that they have zero understanding of.

It's impossible to gauge exactly how much damage this kind of thinking has caused or know how much could've been avoided, but the study goes on to conclude that any change to the status quo is unlikely while so many American Christians (particularly Republicans) believe in the Second Coming. “That is, because of institutions such as the Electoral College, the winner-take-all representation mechanism, and the Senate filibuster, as well as the geographic distribution of partisanship to modern partisan polarization, minority interests often successfully block majority preferences,” Barker and Bearce wrote. “Thus, even if the median voter supports policies designed to slow global warming, legislation to effect such change could find itself dead on arrival if the median Republican voter strongly resists public policy environmentalism at least in part because of end-times beliefs.”

Unlike many of my fellow atheists, I don't particularly care if other people choose to believe in gods. I do have an issue, however, when they let those beliefs carry over from the personal realm into the professional realm, where their delusion of being whisked away from the world leads them to not care that we've taken the one home humanity has and brought it to the brink of an environmental cliff with no road back. The environment isn't going to get better, so we need to do our best to stop it from getting worse, but as long as people continue to believe that the world is going to end it's unlikely to happen

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