In my recent theological explorations, I’ve encountered a certain mentality among the more evangelically-minded — their faith is so strong, so absolute, that nothing can shake it.
But their subject of faith isn’t God, but the environment.
The agnostic in me gets its rankles up when I’m told that certain things are simply indisputable, beyond question, and cannot be argued with. That seems to be the attitude a lot of people have in regards to global warming.
Well, I’m not convinced by them no more than I am by the idiots who used to say that my muttered exclamations of exasperation of “for Christ’s sake” or “god dammit” or “Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick” were an acknowledgment of my belief in a higher power. And just as I tended to arm myself with a few pointed questions that would attempt to poke holes in their iron-clad faith when they tried to shove it down my throat, I’ve been working up a couple of inquiries that — I hope — will give them pause.
Or, at least, get them to leave me alone.
1) We’re told that the earth is growing warmer, and that the results will be catastrophic. 30 years ago or so, the big fear was global cooling and a new ice age. Even a difference of a couple of degrees can have horrific consequences.
What IS the “natural,” “ideal” climate of the Earth? How do we decide what is the “right” temperature? And considering the sheer magnitude of the Earth’s environment, how do we keep that “right” balance against the tendency of the Earth to warm and cool all on its own over the millenia?
2) It seems that every single climactic event is touted as evidence in favor of global warming. If we have a lot of hurricanes, that’s proof. If we have few, that’s proof. If we have a mild winter, that’s proof. If we have a nasty winter, that’s proof. Hotter and cooler summers are proof.
What sort of events would be considered evidence against global warming? What sorts of things would have to occur to challenge your belief in the theory?
This, to me, is what separates science from faith. Science is always ready to admit error, to put its beliefs to the test and revise, correct, or discard notions that prove unreliable. But faith does not — it is by definition not based on proof but belief, and at its purest is utterly unshakable.
I’d be very curious to hear the answers to those questions. They cut through the back-and-forth arguments over numbers and how they’re collected and what they mean, and get to the crux of the matter.