Last year I read Roger Wagner and Andrew Briggs’ excellent book, The Penultimate Curiosity (OUP). The book is a tour through human history from the perspective of art, science and religious seeking. In this post I will remark on an interesting point that I learned from this book.
This follows on from the previous post.
The account of the “Garden of Eden” in Genesis chapters 2 and 3 is, I suggest, primarily offering a way of seeing the human condition wisely.
This is a summary of thoughts on Genesis chapters two and three (the Garden of Eden). I simply present a list of propositions. I hope it is helpful.
–— surveys of religious opinion, stupid questions, and hidden agendas
Sometimes you hear of attempts to measure religious opinion by way of methods such as a survey.
Suppose someone prepares a survey. Suppose they prepare a form with a set of statements, and people are asked to respond to each statement by choosing between “true,” “false” or “don’t know”.
I saw you, person who has the syndrome called Down’s syndrome (it is also called Down syndrome), and I wish to say simply that you are my brother or my sister. I am glad to have you around. I saw that you needed some extra support, but not as much, I noticed, as the support given to the rich by their hoards of servants and employees. I saw that some time and money goes in your general direction, but not as much, I noticed, as gushes through the pipeline to the successful, the “professional class” and the super-citizens, the “leading X of their generation”.
There is a man called Myron Ebell who is referred to in mainstream media as a “climate change skeptic”. In a press conference I saw him saying that regulations designed to help mitigate or reduce the pace of climate change were a restriction on liberty: “the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world”.
This is the equivalent of saying that regulations designed to prevent one person from flooding another person’s house are a “restriction on liberty”. Or it is like saying that laws designed to prevent one group of people from poisoning another group by contaminating the air are a “restriction on liberty”.
It would not matter very much if a man called Myron Ebell said such things, if it were not that Mr Trump, the new president, has invited him to lead policy on environmental issues in his transition team, and Mr Trump now proposes that a man of similar views, Mr Scott Pruitt, should be in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S.A. But the U.S. Senate does not have to accept this. They have the responsibility of voting one way of the other on Wednesday.
There are threats to freedom and prosperity associated with climate change, but they are in precisely the opposite direction to the one claimed by Mr Ebell. Economic studies repeatedly indicate that we and our children and their children will be better off if we act now to mitigate the problem. There is an international consensus on this. This is not a consensus designed to make life worse! It is a consensus designed to make life better!
I have written about this because climate change is one of the most important issues of our time. It is no longer appropriate, if it ever was, to cross our fingers and hope for the best. We do not have to, and should not, accept the proposed appointment of Mr Pruitt.
American friends: why not send a quick email to your Senator? British friends: let’s find ways to help people be more reasonable about climate change.
Sorry to go blog-silent for a while. International events have once again intruded on the things I would have liked to write about. The change of administration in America has caught so much attention, mine included, that it is hard to write about anything else. But I haven’t forgotten that this is a science and religion blog, so I will try not to go too far off that theme.