Faith and Climate Change

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We told you earlier this month that Texas Congressman Joe Barton, R-Ennis, could become chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in January. Such a possibility worries climate scientists because Barton is hostile to efforts to reduce carbon emissions as a way of slowing global warming. For example, Barton bizarrely opposes even replacing the “traditional, incandescent light bulb” with more environmentally friendly and efficient CFL bulbs — or, as Barton calls them, “the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones.”

So would climate scientists be more comfortable with the other Republicans vying for same committee chairmanship? Not necessarily. The Toronto Star reports that one possible chairman of the committee, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Illinois, is an evangelical Christian unconcerned about dangers to the environment because of his religious beliefs. The Star reports that Shimkus dismissed the issue of climate change at a hearing in 2009. The congressman recited a Biblical passage (Genesis 8:21-22) about God’s promise to Noah (after the Great Flood) never to permit the destruction of life on Earth:

“I believe that’s the infallible word of God, and that’s the way it’s going to be for his creation,” Shimkus said.

Then, the Star reports, he quoted Matthew 24:31.

“And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds from one end of the heavens to the other.”

“The Earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a Flood,” Shimkus asserted. “I do believe that God’s word is infallible, unchanging, perfect.”

Talking Points Memo has video of an interview with Rep. Shimkus on this topic here.

Of course, Rep. Shimkus has every right to believe as he does. But it’s important to note that many other people of faith recognize the damage humans are doing to the environment and want to stop it. Moreover, they don’t see science and scientific research as threats or contradictory to their beliefs about God and the Bible. Rather, they see science as a way for us to understand and lessen the threat of climate change to fellow human beings in this country and around the world.

7 Responses to “Faith and Climate Change”

  1. Lynn Says:

    And, of course, midterm elections rewarded candidates who are climate change “skeptics” and punished the few moderate Republicans who have treated the issue with any seriousness. For instance, outgoing Republican Rep Bob Inglis is convinced that it was his “heresy” of saying climate change is real for his loss: He describes his constituents’ opinion that he had taken “Satan’s side” (same link). Joe Barton and Shimkus wouldn’t be as dangerous if it weren’t for the larger social/religious context.

  2. Charles Says:

    Charles, the Envir0nmental Scientist and Christian, has a few comments here:

    1) This is what worries me. Jesus is not stupid, but a lot of the people who follow him are both stupid and gullible. I would put Rep. Shimkus in that category.

    2) According to Rep. Shimkus, the Bible says: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though all inclinations of his heart are evil from childhood and never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done. Great!!!

    There is just one problem. This verse is about God promising not to destroy the Earth. Our primary worry now is evil and sinful men destroying the Earth—and the Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals who are hell bent on making sure they do it.

    3) According to Shimkus the Bible says, “As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease.” I assume that includes the things God created on top of and under the Earth and not just the cosmic rock. What if evil men take away part of the Earth to where all of God’s planetary creation no longer endures. I’d wager all bets are off then!!!!

    4) Shimkus said, ““I believe that’s the infallible word of God, and that’s the way it’s going to be for his creation.” He does not believe the infallible word of God. He believes in his own unique interpretation of it, which I consider to be deeply flawed.

    5) Shimkus said that the Bible says, “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds from one end of the heavens to the other.” So what!!! People can still turn the Earth into a nearly burned out cinder before the trumpet sounds. How does Shimkus know it’s not an emergency rescue mission?

    6) Shimkus said, “The Earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth. This Earth will not be destroyed by a Flood,” Shimkus asserted. “I do believe that God’s word is infallible, unchanging, perfect.”

    Only the coastal and coastal plain areas will be destroyed by a massive ice melt—not the whole Earth. Just because the ice is melting does not mean that God is doing it anymore than it means he has specially targeted your glass of iced tea. I am not worried about God. It is the infallible, unchanging, and perfect Shimkus-types that worry me.

    7) As per usual, Rep. Shimkus forgets something else that God has to say about this in the Bible. Of course, that does not surprise me. They thump the bible a lot but never seem to really read it. Here is my favorite environmental verse from the Bible:

    “The nations were angry, but the time for your wrath has come. It is time for the dead to be judged- to reward your servants, the prophets, the saints, and all who fear your name, both unimportant and important, and to DESTROY THOSE WHO DESTROY THE EARTH.”

    Notice that last part:

    1) People CAN destroy the Earth.

    2) God gets really pissed off when people destroy the Earth.

    3) God merely instructs the ancient Jews to kill homosexuals in the Old Testament because it is an abomination. In other words, He wants someone else to do it. However, for those who destroy the Earth, he is so pissed off that he plans to come down and do it personally—“mano a mano.” This suggests to me that destroying the earth is an order of magnitude beyond a typical Thursday abomination.

    And we have to ask. Does this make any sense? My dad had a huge vegetable garden in back of my house when I was growing up. He would work hard all day for his employer (with no air conditioning) and then come home and work his backyard creation just as hard until sunset. It was his pride and joy—his child—his unique creation. Now, what do you think would have happened if some stranger or or even some friend had come into my dad’s garden one night and bush hogged it? You figure it out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    “As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease.”

  3. Charles Says:

    And does this really surprise anyone—Mr. Religious Right himself:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_delay_trial

  4. TFN Says:

    We were just about to post something about that, Charles. Interesting news.

  5. Eric Hetvile Says:

    Barton can surely do better than “the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones”. That doesn’t sound nearly threatening enough to American liberty, etc. May I humbly suggest “terror bulbs”…

  6. Beverly Kurtin Says:

    Oh dear God! The little, squiggly, pig-tailed lights have reduced our energy bill by approximately 17 percent. EVERY bulb in our house has CFLs. When our energy monster, a/k/a central air conditioner, we replaced it with window air conditioners. It would have cost about $5,000 to replace the central unit; five window units cost less than $600. Our power bill collapsed by nearly 45 percent. That is an incredible 62% decrease in our power bill. Then the dishwasher died. We resorted to washing them by hand. Power bill went down again, we disconnected our pre-heated water. Yeah, the power bill nosedived again. In August, AUGUST!, our bill was less than $160.00.

    Our home is about 1650 square feet, our next door neighbors who refuse to go with CFLs and window air conditioners had a bill over $400 even though their house is approximately the same size.

    Any politician who uses the bible as a basis for their legislation should immediately be tossed out on their tushies. I read the bible and while it is a good guide for living a good, ethical life, it is idiotic to think that it is a viable guide to today’s scientific knowledge and use. Scientists have recently discovered a new form of life that uses arsenic as part of its nutrition. Are we supposed to ignore this discovery or deny it exists because it is not in the bible?

    By electing Republicants the people of this country cut their own throats. They do NOT want to move this country forward. Their one and ONLY agenda is to make sure that the Obama administration is a one-term administration. Extend the unemployment benefits? NO. Raise the Social Security benefits? NO. Help stabilize the economy? NO. Have a loud mouth house leader? Of course. You know him for his outrageous screaming when the health care program was finally, after 100 years, approved reform. Boehner sarcastically shouted that they could not do that without being in closed sessions, etc. And then he screamed “THE HELL YOU CAN’T.” Classy, real classy.

    I’ve got Johnny Carson’s turban. When I put it on my head it screams and tries to jump off my head. I asked it why it did that. “Because I don’t see anything happening in Washington for the next two years, now leave me alone.” It jumped back into its box and pulled the cover over it.

    Then we have the prospect of having a bible thumper, Joe Barton, who does not “believe” in global warming or climate change. Why? Because the moron quoted the bible that God will never destroy the world. In addition to being a really stupid individual, he misquotes what the bible says. He is being looked at as the chair of the SCIENCE committee. Just what the #*!# we do NOT need. Global warming is NOT a matter of faith, it is a FACT. Look at the incredible differences we’ve had over the past few years. Snow in Texas on Christmas? One of those hotter than hell this past summer. Look at what is happening in Europe today. Snow so bad that the roads are either shut down or traffic is at a halt the same as Buffalo, NY. But people like Barton don’t “believe” that man can cause weather problems.

    Hang on, folks, we’re in for two years of misery.

  7. Beverly Kurtin Says:

    Charles…just where do you find, “God merely instructs the ancient Jews to kill homosexuals in the Old Testament because it is an abomination. In other words, He wants someone else to do it.”

    God did not want the nascent nation of Israel to do as the Egyptians and Caanites did in their fertility rites. I’ve never read that he ordered homosexuals to be killed. And he wasn’t talking about real homosexuals; he was talking about men and women who were normally heterosexual but who became faux homosexuals for the fertility rite.

    Grinatchlater…Bev

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