Year 4, Month 5, Day 15: Shut Up He Explained

This study is red-hot, and most newspapers aren’t going to touch it. But the Central Michigan Morning Sun’s Eric Baerren takes it on. Good for him:

Will Christianity destroy humanity? Is it making the End Times a self-fulfilling prophesy?

That’s only a half-fair assessment. To be truthful, religious beliefs don’t shape people’s general attitudes. They only reflect them. People who are prone to hating homosexuals, for instance, are prone to find reason in their religious tomes for doing it.

A study a few years back found that 76 percent of Republican voters believe that the end of times will come soon, kicking off one final epic conflict between God and the Antichrist. After God wins, he’ll clean up the planet and all of God’s believers get to spend eternity in paradise. Growing up, I attended a church attended by people who believe this. It was also in a part of the state notable for using religion as an excuse to rave on about the Apocalypse. And, let’s be clear about what this means: About 35 percent of the electorate is reliably Republican. If the poll is accurate, that means that the percentage of the American electorate who believes that the Biblical end is near is about 25 percent.

People who believe in the End Times are also statistically more prone to opposing things intended to curb climate change, which is the point of this. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Conservatism is underpinned by a fear of change, and doing things to mitigate climate change means changing the way we do things. If you fear change, then you don’t want to do that, so naturally you find excuses not to like denying climate change or pretending that it’s all part of God’s plan.

Damn hard to get all this into 175 words. May 3:

While it’s true that religious beliefs don’t necessarily direct individual attitudes, it is indisputable that they can profoundly shape a society. Western civilization has been steeped for centuries in Christian theology; regardless of whether particular men and women believe in a Biblical apocalypse, there is no doubt that New Testament conceptions of time, progress and eschatology have steered our nominally secular society towards a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In every aspect of our culture — symphonies, movies, fairy tales — we observe “ways of ending” similar to those in the Book of Revelations: a dramatic final conflict, and a happy resolution. Study of other cultures shows that these models of closure are by no means universal.

End-times Christian opposition to significant action on climate change is only the visible face of a broader societal inability to imagine any other way to end our collective story. Believers see themselves living happily ever after; climate scientists, however, are much less sanguine about the coming centuries of life on Earth if we fail to address the unsettling facts of a runaway greenhouse effect.

Warren Senders

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