Year 4, Month 2, Day 22: The Fire This Time

USA Today links the sensitive fee-fees of the god-botherers to the environmental crisis in a touching piece entitled, “God and Climate Change.”

Today, new prophets tell us that our modern sins will lead to rising seas, stronger hurricanes and longer droughts. If we don’t reform our sinful ways, global catastrophe on a biblical scale looms. Billy Graham could hardly have said it better.

Hearing God’s call

In traditional Christian theology, there are two direct ways to access the thinking of God: the “Book of the Bible” and the “Book of Nature.”

Until Charles Darwin, Christians believed that the earth was not much changed from its creation about 6,000 years ago, meaning the design of the natural world offered a glimpse into the mind of God. John Calvin would thus write that God “daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the universe.” The plant and animal kingdoms are “burning lamps” that “shine for us … the glory of its author.” To eliminate a species or damage the earth is to limit our knowledge of God.

In some ways, environmentalism should be seen as a secularized version of Calvinism, minus God. Obama has brought God back into the environmental conversation, even if his theological knowledge is incomplete.

Go ahead. Tell me I’m angry. Tell me something I don’t know. February 14:

To the extent that their creeds encourage them to act in the interests of our collective survival, religious believers are important participants in the struggle against devastating climate change. But the sword of faith cuts both ways; the fact is that most major world religions deny the reality and finality of the world, viewing it instead as an illusory prelude to a hypothetical afterlife. Whether in the extreme form of those eagerly anticipating the fiery Armageddon described in Revelations, or in the less apocalyptic thinking of religious liberals who simply wish that death wasn’t so, um, deadly, these eschatologies are ultimately incompatible with the idea of long-term sustainability.

Climate change is a global phenomenon unintentionally created by human behavior and detected by human perceptions; it won’t be solved by the prayers of the faithful but by the concerted work of billions of humans seeking to preserve their shared planetary heritage.

Warren Senders

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