Crank of the Week - February 28, 2011 - United Church of Christ
This coming Wednesday, March 9th, is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Christian holy season of Lent. It is traditional for Christians to fast or give up certain food or drink during the 40 day run-up to Easter. Now it seems, in a bold move to remain relevant in these days of climate change anxiety, the United Church of Christ has suggested that believers go on a “Carbon Fast” for Lent. Ignoring organized religion's dismal record for divining scientific truth in the past, and being perhaps a bit envious of the evangelical zeal shown by global warming true believers, church leaders are urging Christians every where to help fight global warming by cutting down on CO2 emissions. Strange, we've never seen Jesus driving a Prius.
While the case regarding a link between human CO2 emissions and global warming remains a topic of scientific debate, the United Church of Christ has seen fit to make a theological jump straight to mitigation, evidently having decided that humanity is to blame for climate change. The UCC's 5,320 congregations claim about 1.1 million members, primarily in the United States, and has historically been active in numerous traditionally-liberal social causes. The call for curtailing carbon emissions as a Lenten discipline went out at the beginning of the year:
Ash Wednesday (March 9, 2011) invites us into the season of Lent – a time within the church year to acknowledge that we are mortal, limited. Lent awakens us to hope in God whose "steadfast love endures forever" and to struggle against everything that leads us away from the love of God and neighbor. The Lenten disciplines of repentance, fasting, prayer, study and works of love are guides for returning to the steadfast love of God. During Lent we confess our mortality, our limits and our vulnerability so that we might be transformed and become the new life God calls us to be.
We invite you to join us as we commit to fasting from carbon during Lent. Beginning Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, participants will receive a daily email with the day's suggested carbon-reducing activity. When possible, this will include a quantitative measure of the carbon reduction resulting from the activity. Each daily email will also have a section suggesting a weekly focus for the congregation.
The reason given in the announcement, which was made under the auspices of The Environmental Outreach Committee of the Archdiocese of Washington, renders an implicit judgment that the theory of anthropogenic global warming, which places responsibility for rising global temperatures firmly on human generation of greenhouse gases, is true. “Just as humanity now recognizes climate change as a predominant scientific, economic and political issue, we also realize it is a profound moral issue,” said the online announcement. Moreover, “life on earth as we know it is mortal – it is susceptible to change, hurt and, yes, death.”
Wow, life on Earth is mortal, imagine that. No response so far from the IPCC, AAAS, and other global warming proponents regarding how it feels to have God on their side. There are reports that the idea of an Ecumenical carbon ban has spread across the US and around the world. The Carbon Fast has also attracted the attention of the news media, with one approving commentator from the Wall Street Journal urging the people to “hop into a hybrid cab and save your soul.”
Evidently, modern day religious leaders have forgotten the hard learned lessons of the past—that science and religion form a volatile and often toxic mix. This is because science and religion are based on two fundamentally different systems of judging the truth: science is based on the scientific method—experimentation, empirical measurement and observation—with all experiments reproducible by other scientists and theories falsifiable by new observations; religion is based on faith, where truth is revealed, not discovered, and skepticism is considered heretical. Funny, we missed the passage of scripture where Jesus said, “he who emits the least carbon here on Earth will be first in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Organized religion has a poor record when it comes to science.
The United Church of Christ and other religious organizations should recall the words attributed to Galileo: “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” Religion by its nature is a conservative force in society, a natural brake on progress without moral consideration. Unfortunately, when taken to extremes, religious belief can prevent all progress and be an impediment to true understanding of the natural world. This is why, in The Resilient Earth, Simmons and Hoffman said:
Religion answers questions that science cannot, science answers questions that religion should not. Just as religious teachings cannot be viewed as a valid source of scientific knowledge, science has no authority in spiritual or ethical realms. Science is the study of nature and nature is neither moral nor immoral... science does not provide moral guidance or satisfy the human longing for an underlying meaning to existence. Religion is religion, science is science and the two should never be confused.
Wrong on heliocentrism, wrong on evolution, wrong on the creation of the universe and now wrong on global warming; God's minions have quite a losing streak going. But religion is not about reason, it is about faith. At the end of the anti-carbon crusade's announcement was this statement: “God is calling us to be the change we long to see.” It seems to us that some people are mistaking their own opinions for God's, surely a sin in any religion. So, for not being able to tell God's revealed truth from environmentalist dogma, this Crank of the Week belongs to the United Church of Christ and all the other green zealots who have helped make climate change a religion of its own.
What would Jesus drive? If you think you know the answer, you're a crank.