President Donald Trump’s announcement last week regarding US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord thrust climate science back to the forefront of the American conversation. And, for those of us inclined to heed overwhelming scientific consensus, this meant a fresh round of maddening conversations with climate change deniers.
I’m willing to concede perhaps the sky isn’t yet falling – though maybe it is. But, what’s stunning is the number of people who don’t even care to find out. It’s not something worth worrying our pretty little heads about. (After all, no one in the Trump Administration will even say on the record whether President Trump believes man-made climate change is real. Candidate Trump was clear last year, saying he considers it a hoax foisted on Americans by the Chinese.)
Particularly vexing for me is the faith-based argument against climate change. As a friend said to me last week: “It is ALL in the hands of GOD not us.” My friend rejects the idea that man can have such a sizeable impact on the planet. And, he’s not alone in that perspective. Last week, US Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI) acknowledged our changing climate and accepted the possibility man might be contributing. But, to that, he added:
“As a Christian, I believe that there is a creator in God who is much bigger than us. And I’m confident that, if there’s a real problem, he can take care of it.”
I’m reminded of a familiar bumper sticker most of us have seen. It’s the one proudly proclaiming: “Jesus Is My Copilot.” A few years ago, sitting in traffic, I chuckled seeing it emblazoned on the rear bumper of a beat-up jalopy with some serious front-end collision damage.
I suspect even the Son of God receives endorsements and testimonials he’d just as soon leave off his LinkedIn profile.
Likewise, if God – not man – is the force behind what’s happening to Earth’s environment, then why the hell does he hate pandas, elephants, rhinos, and sea turtles so badly? This extinction thing is vengeful stuff. Surely the 1,383 animals currently listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act must be asking “how did we end up with Old Testament God, while Homo sapiens gets the New Testament treatment?”
This just seems like a place where God might draw the line, or at least say “Could you please work with me here!?”
I’m treading a fine line here, and I never want to poke fun at someone’s religious beliefs. But, I’m asking my friend, Rep. Walberg, and others to consider the possibility God helps those who help themselves. (Biblical scholars and theologians will point out this is not a statement made in the Holy Bible. And, in fact, the Christian God is one who helps the helpless.) But, let’s at least accept we’re not supposed to make it as hard as we possibly can to help us.
Which reminds me of another story whose exact origin isn’t easily confirmed, though we’ve all heard the modern parable in one form or another. Paraphrasing, it goes like this…
A religious man was caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house, where he was sure God would rescue him. A neighbor passing in a canoe shouted to the man: “The water will soon be over your head. Get in.”
“No thanks,” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and he will surely save me”
In a bit, the police came by in a boat. “The waters are rising quickly. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”
“No thanks,” said the man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”
Sometime later, a rescue helicopter hovered overhead, dropping down a rope ladder, the pilot yelled down: “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb up quickly and we’ll fly you to safety.”
“No thanks,” the religious man said. “I’ve prayed to God. He will save me”
All this time the floodwaters kept rising, until they covered the roof and the religious man drowned. Arriving in Heaven, he demanded an audience with God and asked “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”
“Yes, my child, you did” replied the Lord. “I sent you rescuers in a canoe, a boat, and a helicopter. But you never got in.”
If you believe in a God who is great enough to have created all that we see around us in this dazzling universe, why is it so hard to believe he also gave us gifted, intelligent, hardworking men and women of science who have dedicated their lives to helping us understand, explore, and thrive in this Universe?
I’m asking for a sea turtle friend.