I was listening to the radio today. Turns out one of the most ludicrous religious groups we have, the Southern Baptists are doing something good. They are finally starting to get on the ball with climate change. Perhaps I should say some of the Southern Baptists are getting on board. OK, Kudos to you guys for actually trying to rouse your own members to do something constructive, even if its for ridiculous reasons (you know like SkyDaddy gave you a planet, you better take care of it).
I dont care if Stephen Pinker writes off our actions towards global warming as simply moralizing an issue. The fact of the matter is that there is tons of data there to support the theory, and lots of conflicting data to prevent other theories from coming into play. I first wrote about it here and wont rehash global warming in this post.
One their declaration page, they discuss why members should pay attention and act towards climate change. After a bunch of bible stuff they come to this:
We have recently engaged in study, reflection and prayer related to the challenges presented by environmental and climate change issues. These things have not always been treated with pressing concern as major issues. Indeed, some of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that these are real problems that deserve our attention. But now we have seen and heard enough to be persuaded that these issues are among the current era’s challenges that require a unified moral voice.By "seen and heard enough to be persuaded" you mean "Science has provided you with enough data to be persuaded", don't you. Certainly God didn't tell you, did he? Was there something in the Bible about CO2 concentrations? Was there a letter from one of the disciples about greenhouse gasses? The only way you got 'enough' was from scientific observation, hypothesis generation and verification. This is the scientific method, in short, that you rail against in virtually every other aspect of our civilization.
There are four statements by which these folks support their responsibility towards caring for the earth. It is almost comical (if it weren't so sad) that these are required in order to convince their own members to start cleaning up after themselves and live in a way that doesnt increase suffering around the world.
The first statement is pretty much just fluff. It just goes along with the normal "God said it, I beleive it" sort of stuff, then they quote mine the bible to support the idea that the God followers have to care for an protect the planet.
The second statement has some fun stuff in it.
We recognize that we do not have any special revelation to guide us about whether global warming is occurring and, if it is occurring, whether people are causing it. We are looking at the same evidence unfolding over time that other people are seeing.Once again, it is made clear that none of this effort is from some communication from God. The only 'evidence unfolding' is that from scientists and scientific observation.
We recognize that if consensus means unanimity, there is not a consensus regarding the anthropogenic nature of climate change or the severity of the problem. There is general agreement among those engaged with this issue in the scientific community. A minority of sincere and respected scientists offer alternate causes for global climate change other than deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.If consensus means unanimity, then we dont know anything. There is not one subject considered by man that has a unanimous consensus, there are always a few wackjobs out there. This includes interpretations of the bible, which has no consensus. So once again, points for correctness on how to recognize consensus and how consensus supported by evidence is not a bad thing.
Then, ping! Out to left field!
Unlike abortion and respect for the biblical definition of marriage, this is an issue where Christians may find themselves in justified disagreement about both the problem and its solutions.There are no christians who support a womens right to choose? There are no christians who support the idea that the government should not be deciding religious matters? There are no christians who are gay? Laughable, but not really important or even on topic, so lets move on.
Yet, even in the absence of perfect knowledge or unanimity, we have to make informed decisions about the future. This will mean we have to take a position of prudence based partly on science that is inevitably changing. We do not believe unanimity is necessary for prudent action. We can make wise decisions even in the absence of infallible evidence.
Based partly on science? What is the other part? You already made clear that god has nothing to do with this except telling you to take care of the planet. For all you know, he meant he wanted you to plant apple trees everywhere to make up for the lost apple.
Though the claims of science are neither infallible nor unanimous, they are substantial and cannot be dismissed out of hand on either scientific or theological grounds.More points for correctness. Note, with time, the claims of science become less and less fallible as both more evidence become available and scientific theories become more accurate. With more observation we do not see less unanimity, we see more. The global warming issues has now been around for a few decades, only in the last 20 years have we been able to use the observations we have assembled to throw out many hypotheses (including the "nothing is happening" hypothesis) and have a very very strong greenhouse gas emission theory.
Statement three is mostly more bible blather, however there is this part:
The consequences of these problems will most likely hit the poor the hardest, in part because those areas likely to be significantly affected are in the world’s poorest regions. Poor nations and individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats.This is right on. The reason ignoring global warming is immoral is because it increases suffering around the world. Sadly, and this is why God is just a jokester, it acts exactly how the southern baptists describe, the hardest hit will be the poorest nations with the fewest resources (for the most part). Even in rich nations, the economies will suffer tremendously, and who gets hit the hardest with worsening economies? Yup! You guessed it, the poor and needy. What societal population around the world is the largest? Yup! once again, correct! The poor. Acting in a way that increases your personal and communal greenhouse gas emissions directly acts towards increased suffering around the world.
Statement four spends a bunch of time on abortion again (hello! abortion is primarily due to unwanted pregnancy, help stop that and you are doing more to stop abortion than any law can, focus people, focus!). The rest of the statement basically says the time is now and they must act personally and within their communities towards helping with climate change. Again mostly kudos to you for this effort. Here is a real moment of clarity:
We realize that simply affirming our God-given responsibility to care for the earth will likely produce no tangible or effective results.That is right, just like praying doesnt do anything, neither does affirming that god gave you responsibility to take care of the earth. Its a moral, and human responsibility that helps our species (and many others!) to survive.
OK, so while I generally regard the southern baptists as the Taliban of American culture, this is a pretty good step forward.
Now since you have made the step forward with regard to climate change, how about making the same exact step forward with regard to evolution. Not only is the mechanism by which acceptance of it exactly the same, the evidence base is even larger and longer! If you can finally accept scientific evidence with regard to climate change, you can accept scientific evidence, period. Lets get on board with your evolution, your germ theory and vaccines, your stem cell use, your genetic research and your nanotechnology. Or is that asking too much at once?
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