I find irony delicious. When an idea comes together around a bible story, an atheist blog post and a scientific idea, you know you are in a rarefied realm and God is whispering in your ear. Write, he says. And so I am.
In preparing for our lectionary discussion tomorrow at church, I was confronted with an old story in Mark, that of the sons Zebedee, and their quest to be at Jesus’ right and left sides in his “glory.”
As the story proceeds, we find that the brothers, unmindful that Jesus has just told them of his coming passion and sacrifice, are more concerned about their relative power in the new kingdom that Jesus will inaugurate.
One of the lessons we learn from this periscope, is that we, as followers of Jesus, like the disciples, often times find our true intent in gaining recognition and power for ourselves. We are reminded through a meditation of this story, to remember to check ourselves regularly to determine our true motivation in “serving” our Lord. Are we like James and John, more concerned with our “recognition” in church ministries, or in others knowing of our sacrifices?
It came to me that a thorough immersion in Jesus’ teaching on this subject is helpful in the discussion of climate change. In a post entitled, What Happened to Global Warming?, the Atheist Ethicist makes a damning statement against those who continue to oppose the truth of this scientific conclusion.
This is not a game. The fate of whole cities from Shanghai to Cairo to Amsterdam to London to Miami to New Orleans is at stake. Given these facts, the morally responsible person sweats over the possibility that he could be wrong. The morally irresponsible, reckless, contemptible individual blurts out what he wants to believe and selectively cherry-picks evidence that conforms to that belief.
However, the real moral crime is a society that tolerates this type of intellectual recklessness. All of the drunk drivers, rapists, and murderers combined threaten a lot less destruction than global warming deniers, and yet the latter are tolerated.
And I’m hard pressed to find him wrong. Global warming is being warned of by scientists around the world. Are their disputes about all kinds of peripheral issues? Of course there are, but there is agreement on the general proposition that it’s occurring and frankly at a rate much faster than scientists anticipated. Our window of opportunity is growing closed.
The results, when it occurs will be devastating, both to our country and all others. Millions will be displaced, perhaps billions in the end. Life will be harsh, food growing areas will suffer, and we will have to adjust. Most of us who are older adults now won’t see things as bad as they will get. We will get off easy by comparison to our children’s children.
Yet, a segment of our population continues for various reasons to keep it’s head in the sand. Some represent and support business, who is after profit and power today, and simply won’t care about tomorrow. But some are supposedly serious Christians, and some of them too simply deny.
They interpret their bible in their own way, suggesting that God will not allow the earth to fall into such ruin, merely because he said he would never destroy the earth again after the flood. But he said nothing about saving us from our own folly. And indeed, it can be easily argued that God has provided the “fix” in the guise of scientists around the world who have told us what we must do to avert this catastrophe.
What these biblicists need to do is examine their motives. Do you truly believe that God doesn’t expect us to help ourselves out of crisis by using our own brains? Are you willing to risk the very lives of your grandchildren on your personal interpretation or that of some self-styled preacher?
Are you really masking a desire that this version of yours be true, and then seeking information to confirm your conclusion? That is always available, but is by no means conclusive of truth. There are always shysters out there willing to make a buck at your expense if you will buy their books and go to their seminars.
It seems clear that a certain segment of our uneducated but opinionated citizenry tend to first decide what they want to be the truth and then seek support for their position. This is a crazy way of doing business as most rational people know. But to the crazy biblicists, this is the norm. They do everything this way as it relates to the bible. They decide what they want, then find in the bible support for that. It’s easy enough to do, since the bible in total will support virtually every position one can think of, if you look hard enough. Such is why we have some 40,000 different Christian denominations.
Is it perhaps that some people are always looking for ways not to be taxed? Even for the common good? Does it make this selfishness just a tad more palatable when you can feel comfortable that the Lord is on your side? Is He? Or is it your wishful thinking? Are you afraid of big government and knee jerk react against anything that smacks of bigger government? Does interpreting the bible in this way help to support your fear?
Jesus tells us we must question our motives. That is why he asked the brothers if they had a clue what they were indeed asking for. After all, being at his right and left side in his glory involved hanging on the cross in place of the two thieves. Surely they did not mean that. No Jesus was hoping they would realize that they were still defining the world in worldly terms, not heavenly ones.
If you claim to be a climate change denier ask yourself: Am I truly convinced, willing to put my future children’s life at risk for what I believe? Am I willing tot risk my 2% of scientists who agree with me against the 98% who don’t because I’m really afraid of something else? It’s time to come clean both with us and yourself. You are holding our future hostage with your self-serving arrogance. And it has to stop.