Extreme Temperature Diary- June 13, 2018/ Hot Topic: Intersection of Faith and Science

 

Wednesday June 13th… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing post will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials)😊. Here is today’s main climate change related hot topic: 

Intersection of Faith and Science

Today I’m letting all know that I come from a strong religious background since my father was a moderate Southern Baptist minister. I use the word “moderate” because he wasn’t a firebrand like most ministers of that particular denomination became around 1980. Rather, he had the demeanor, religious views, and politics of Jimmy Carter, who both of us admired over the years. I became a meteorologist with his blessing also around 1980. My father and I came to believe that science did not preclude the existence of God, rather that science was God’s revelation to mankind of how his creation works and came into being.

Via evolution we know that God did work in slower and more mysterious ways than ancients could conceive. God also let man progress through the Industrial Revolution through the use of coal and oil. I may never know why the Creator let humanity prosper from brown energy knowing  that it was a ticking  time bomb that potentially could cause almost unfathomable suffering, ending civilization.

Perhaps we are meant to come together, unifying the world in a fight to stave off the worst effects of carbon pollution. Perhaps we are meant to stay divided, destined to suffer, going through a future dark age when civilization crumbles under an onslaught of horrific storms, droughts, and heat waves.  We might see a little of both scenarios as the 21st century rolls along. God really only knows.

On one side of the climate change religious spectrum we have Pope Francis who has extolled all to care for the environment, now urging brown energy companies to go green ASAP. The New York Times has published a good article on what Pope Francis is cajoling oil executives to do:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/09/world/europe/pope-oil-executives-climate-change.html

Quoting from the article:

On Saturday, the pope gathered money managers and titans of the world’s biggest oil companies during a closed-door conference at the Vatican and asked them if they had gotten the message.

“Will we turn the corner in time? No one can answer that with certainty,” the pope said. “But with each month that passes, the challenge of energy transition becomes more pressing.”

He called on the participants “to be the core of a group of leaders who envision the global energy transition in a way that will take into account all the peoples of the earth, as well as future generations and all species and ecosystems.”

On the other end of the climate change religious spectrum we have those who are mostly American evangelicals that think the end is nigh and anything related to this Earth or its remaining future is unimportant in comparison with what lies in the hereafter. Why should environmentalism matter when heaven awaits is one of many arguments some make.

In the Bible I have read many passages extolling man to be a good caretaker of this world, so what I see as new fundamentalism from Southern Baptists and others doesn’t hold much spiritual water. Many evangelicals with leadership by climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe have come around to taking a long view of the Earth. We don’t know when Christ will return be it tomorrow or thousands of years hence, so one had better make the planet better for children.

Out of new fundamentalism has stepped one individual, Scott Pruitt, who I don’t think has acted in a very Christian manor, eviscerating the EPA and scandalously using the public purse to line his own pockets. I was not surprised to see this article today though from the New Yorker:

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/are-evangelical-leaders-saving-scott-pruitts-job

Quoting from the article:

“How is it that the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, a public servant who walks around clouded in ethics scandals like Pig-Pen in his swirl of dust, still holds his job? At the E.P.A., Pruitt has engaged in acts that range from the pettily self-serving (allegedly asking agency employees to help him acquire a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel and to set up meetings so that his wife could get a Chick-fil-A franchise) to the egregiously self-serving (spending millions of dollars on an around-the-clock, twenty-person security detail, which is unprecedented at the Agency, and splurging on first-class flights) to the weirdly clandestine (installing a forty-three-thousand-dollar soundproof phone booth in his office, though there are other secure locations for conversation at the E.P.A. headquarters, and declining to follow past practice and release his schedule in advance). At an agency that strives for earnest probity, Pruitt’s blundering, for which he is now the target of Government Accountability Office and congressional investigations, stands out in vulgar relief.”

“Eighty per cent of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump. This was to be expected, as that group has strong ties to the Republican Party and wanted a President who would appoint conservative, anti-abortion judges to the bench. It seemed at first like a hold-your-nose kind of bargain for values voters, who might be presumed to find a lewd and crude man like Trump problematic. Yet the surprise is that so many evangelical leaders have not only endorsed Trump but exalted him. “In my lifetime, he has supported the Christian faith more than any President that I know,” the evangelist Franklin Graham told the Times, in February. Jerry Falwell, Jr., predicted that Trump would be “the greatest President since Abraham Lincoln.” The charismatic pastor Dutch Sheets has described Trump’s election as a “miracle,” brought about through prayer. And, last week, news emerged that students at Liberty University, the Christian school founded by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, Sr., in Lynchburg, Virginia, will be making a feature film called “The Trump Prophecy,” to be shown in theatres nationwide this October. The film will tell the story of a retired firefighter from Florida who, in 2011, received a message from God that Trump was going to become President. Why wouldn’t Trump want to keep pleasing the evangelical constituency, and retaining the Cabinet members with connections to it?”

“And here’s another way that the Christian Right is helping to sustain both Trump and Pruitt. Its members can find justification for their climate-change skepticism and for the valorization of extractive industries in evangelical teachings that insist, against the overwhelming scientific consensus, that humans could not have created global warming. In an essay published on the Capitol Ministries Web site in April, Drollinger explains that accepting a human role in climate change and trying to do something about it poses a terrible moral danger: “To think that Man can alter the earth’s ecosystem—when God remains omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent in the current affairs of mankind—is to more than subtly espouse an ultra-hubristic, secular worldview relative to the supremacy and importance of man.”

So there you have it. Two very different Christian worldviews in association with the climate issue. My father frequently preached to beware of false prophets. I fear that many fundamentalists have been mislead, going down a path that God would not want. Christ estolled his followers to take care of their fellow man, essentially making and creation important. We will see if poisonous fundamentalism coming from the U.S. burns and kills the environment. Sigh…I pray not.

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In other news I thought that perhaps heat episode #3 would taper off enough to arbitrarily declare its end for a day or two. Instead marginally dangerous heat will be building through the Rockies where wildfires made national news, and into the western Plains:

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The Climate Guy

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