Green with Envy

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The ideas that people hold guide their actions, and sometimes this plays out with such consistency that it could almost make a conspiracy theorist seem credible. Yesterday, for example, the news revealed that two major Christian sects on opposite sides of the world had officially accepted the leftist global warming package of guilt-motivated government controls as their own.

First, it was the Southern Baptists:

The signers of "A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change" acknowledged that not all Christians accept the science behind global warming. They said they do not expect fellow believers to back any proposed solutions that would violate Scripture, such as advocating population control through abortion.

However, the leaders said that current evidence of global warming is "substantial," and that the threat is too grave to wait for perfect knowledge about whether, or how much, people contribute to the trend. [bold added]
For anyone who still thinks that religion is any kind of a bulwark against the left or socialism, please note the priorities given in bold above. The codified oral traditions of primitive tribesmen from millennia ago are to be obeyed even if they contradict minor aspects of this agenda, and yet they somehow know that this "threat" is "too grave" to worry about whether human beings really do contribute to global warming!

Translation: "Ignore what you rationally judge to be best and just do as we say." How often do religious leaders come so close to actually saying this? We can thank the global warming alarmists on the "secular" left for paving the way for this brazen display of contempt for science. (Who, after all, has been screaming all along that the sky is falling?) Capitalism requires freedom, which is anathema to men who want to tell you what to do. And men who do not think for themselves will not remain free for long.

(And before we go any further, I wish to point out that even if "the science" were true, that the question of whether or not we should adopt the various political positions global warming activists endorse remains a political question.)

Later in the day, the Catholic Church also jumped in:
Thou shall not pollute the Earth. Thou shall beware genetic manipulation. Modern times bring with them modern sins. So the Vatican has told the faithful that they should be aware of "new" sins such as causing environmental blight. [bold added]
Another report notes that these more modern mortal sins have a more collectivist emphasis than the older ones:
The "sins of yesteryear" - sloth, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, wrath and pride - have a "rather individualistic dimension", he told the Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper.

The new seven deadly, or mortal, sins are designed to make worshippers realise that their vices have an effect on others as well.

"The sins of today have a social resonance as well as an individual one," said Mgr Girotti. "In effect, it is more important than ever to pay attention to your sins." [bold added]
I recall one Objectivist intellectual acknowledging that one positive cultural contribution (although couched in an inconsistent mystical context) Christianity had made to the West was the notion of man as an individual.

Individualism, which can be properly defended only by a rational, secular philosophy, had been much more widely accepted in Western culture, but has been under philosophic attack since the rise of Immanuel Kant and in cultural decline for some time, thanks again to his cultural spawn, the left.

Since Kant's goal was to save the morality of altruism from reason, it should come as no surprise that with the culture shifting to an elevation of the collective over the individual, that religious altruists are cashing in. If individualism has any intellectual roots in Christian soil, it would have eventually withered anyway unless transplanted, but Kant has hastened the process.

For a very long time, religion had been in retreat, especially in the face of scientific advances that cast doubt on such matters as the position of the earth in the universe. But now that science is being increasingly co-opted by altruists and collectivists, those who have trafficked in guilt and slavery for centuries, the religionists, have taken note. They will not be left out of the game of moving us all about like pawns on a board.

And, as I have noted before regarding the economic ruin that environmentalism can cause, "Environmentalism is not just a moral ideal.... Its destruction of capitalism is also a tactic." For what better context exists to declare that one man's purpose is to care for others than when as many people as possible are miserable and "in need"?

Reason and science, although both are under attack, still command respect by the people (and envy among mystics) in the West. By adopting the global warming agenda, the religionists can appear rational to those who see this as a foregone scientific conclusion. At the same time, they obviously see that reason and science are now on the defensive and they are moving in for the kill.

-- CAV

PS: Ari Armstrong has further thoughts on this subject.

Updates

Today
: Fixed a typo.

6 comments:

Burgess Laughlin said...

I have different interpretations of the quoted excerpt.

1. The signers [...] acknowledged that not all Christians accept the science behind global warming. They said they do not expect fellow believers to back any proposed solutions that would violate Scripture, such as [...] abortion.

My interpretation of this is that we can see here a classic, dual fact/value and reason/faith dichotomy. The signers accept the science (facts of this world) but insist on taking action based on values they have gained, through faith, from another reality.

2. However, the leaders said that current evidence of global warming is "substantial," and that the threat is too grave to wait for perfect knowledge about whether [...] people contribute to the trend.

My interpretation is that the signers are saying that the global warming theory that humans are a cause is probable ("substantial"), but not certain ("perfect"). They are not saying take global warming theory on faith or their authority.

Gus Van Horn said...

I certainly agree that the Southern Baptists are basing their response to claims about global warming on their religious values.

Your interpretation of how the Baptists have chosen to accept the scientific arguments as actionable is reasonable.

At the same time, news stories pop up reliably in conservative circles all the time to the effect that the science is under dispute and the Southern Baptists love to dictate policy when they can.

Taking the side that looks like it is winning greater political power also seems like a plausible thing to do for someone interested in gaining political influence.

Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, you write: "I recall one Objectivist intellectual acknowledging that one positive cultural contribution (although couched in an inconsistent mystical context) Christianity had made to the West was the notion of man as an individual." I think you're thinking of Leonard Peikoff himself, who in one of his Ford Hall Forum talks (I believe) made that point, prefaced by the wry quip, "To give the angels their due..."

Gus Van Horn said...

Ah!

I recalled that quip as well, but wasn't sure it was Peikoff.

Thanks! It was bothering me that I couldn't remember with certainty who that was.

Burgess Laughlin said...

I don't have my notes with me, but I recall that Dr. Ridpath, in his lecture "Religion vs. Man," discusses the "individualism" of Christianity. That religion has generally emphasized what an individual must do to save his individual soul for all eternity. The point is that an individual has worth.

Dr. Ridpath, at a basic level, compares various eastern and western religions. The Western monotheistic religions, as bad as they are, are superior to others.

Gus Van Horn said...

I read this long ago. Maybe that's why I couldn't remember anyone in particular -- although from the quip, I know I must've heard it from Peikoff....