Saturday, April 4, 2009

Radical Environmentalism – Paganism, Earth Worship, and Al Gore (Part 2)

The idea that “the earth is our mother” is not new. In Greek mythology, the goddess Gaia was the deity which personified the earth itself. “Gaia” literally means “grandmother earth”. The idea of the fertile female representation of earth is not unique to ancient Greek culture – many other cultures adopted just such a goddess to worship.

Gaia worship has been revived recently, notably through James Lovelock’s 1979 book, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Through this book, Lovelock promoted the idea that all things on the earth, both living and non-living, are part of a cooperative dynamic system which forms the ecology of the planet. He put forth the idea that the whole system could be thought of as a single self-regulating organism. Later, he supported the theory by postulating a fantasy system called Daisyworld, in which white daisies and black daisies cooperate to regulate the temperature of their fictional planet.

Since publication of Lovelock’s book, there has been a substantial rise in the belief that the earth is sacred, often to the point of the earth possessing god-like qualities. This has become more evident each year as the rise of environmentalism attacks the purposes and rightful place of man as the steward of the earth. It has reached such proportions that man is frequently relegated to second-place status, even by those who deny God’s existence. The earth is often assumed to have anthropomorphic qualities, able to regulate and maintain itself as long as cruel man is finally stopped from pursuing his own selfish and evil purposes.

A new pagan promoter has come on the scene in recent years. While his grandmother was raised in the strict Campbellite Church of Christ tradition, and though he has maintained that he is a Baptist Christian, Al Gore may have done more to raise the awareness of Gaia worship than any other individual in our world today. He has certainly become well-known as an avid promoter of global warming theory and anti-industry efforts in his movie An Inconvenient Truth. I have watched the movie and read the book. It is full of fascinating pictures and stories designed to convince the public that 1) global warming is real, 2) man is the primary reason for global warming, and 3) we have very little time left to change our ways before we cause irreversible damage. For the uninformed, it is at the same time an interesting and terrifying presentation. That probably explains its popularity.

So if we are to follow Al Gore’s philosophy, putting aside for the moment any question into the veracity of his scientific presentation, we should know a little about his thinking. For the Christian, it is imperative to compare any teaching with the ultimate Source and Creator. The Bible warns that men will be led astray by false arguments which have the look of wisdom, but which are foolishness at their core. If foolishness were obvious, very few would fall for it. Radical environmentalism, while foolish in its premises, is not an obvious fallacy to the many who have come under its spell.

In his book Earth In The Balance, Gore maintains that man has abandoned his responsibility for the earth precisely because he is devoted to God. On pages 258-259, Gore says, “The richness and diversity of our religious tradition throughout history is a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith, who are often afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside their own systems of belief. But the emergence of a civilization in which knowledge moves freely and almost instantaneously through the world has spurred a renewed investigation of the wisdom distilled by all faiths. This panreligious perspective may prove especially important where our global civilization's responsibility for the earth is concerned." In this statement, Gore essentially pins environmental blame on Christians for sticking to their faith, and not being open to other teachings which might open their minds to diversity.

In Romans 1:21-23, the Bible says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” This warning is precisely fulfilled in the modern environmental movement. Adherents like Gore would have us add man’s wisdom to God’s teaching, but this is the very temptation that we are warned about in the closing words of the New Testament - the last words left to us in God’s book (see Revelation 22:18-19).

Christians need to be aware that there is an insidious temptation to compromise God’s word, even to seemingly “good” causes such as taking care of the earth. While there is a need for godly stewardship of the things we have been given, the elevation of these efforts as being superior to God or man is wrong. Should we listen to new age prophets such as Al Gore? When asked about his feelings on the Christian faith of George W. Bush, Gore commented in an interview with The New Yorker magazine that, “It's a particular kind of religiosity. It's the American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia, in Kashmir, in religions around the world: Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. They all have certain features in common. In a world of disconcerting change, when large and complex forces threaten familiar and comfortable guideposts, the natural impulse is to grab hold of the tree trunk that seems to have the deepest roots and hold on for dear life and never question the possibility that it's not going to be the source of your salvation. And the deepest roots are in philosophical and religious traditions that go way back.”

We must decide where our source of salvation comes from. “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). I’m willing to stick to that – and only that.

Next: Part 3 - How National Geographic has adopted an unscientific and pagan approach


Darren Duvall said...

I agree, with my background in a fundamentalist branch of Christianity that has discovered grace I can look with some pity on the environmentalists. They have the passion of the Puritans, but no sense of grace. The patterns and forms of religion seem to be too deeply engrained in human nature for anything else to provoke such zeal, and so the patterns and forms are observed.

There is a caste of high priests and apostles (Gore, James Hansen, among others) whose pronunciations are accepted as truth, and whose writings are passed around and much discussed. Meetings are held to encourage the faithful, and the nonbelievers (Crichton, Monckton) are mocked without mercy. Worse still are the apostates (Lindzen, Lomborg), who despite tutelage in their fields from committed disciples nevertheless forsake the things of Gaia for what is assumed to be worldly reward from Satan, in the form of transnational oil companies.

Martyrs abound, mostly shore birds and otters slathered in spilled crude oil. There is seemingly a desire for more martyrs, ones will be made from unconnected events (the Boxing Day Tsunami, for instance) or fervently hoped for when the sea reclaims an atoll or two. That the sea level isn't rising is irrelevant -- it has been predicted and therefore it will happen, and much anticipatory weeping and gnashing can be had over the unfairness of what has nevertheless not yet occurred.

There are relics, of course, the equivalent to the Shroud of Turin is the Mann 'Hockey Stick' graph. Apostle Gore's Powerpoint file is to be venerated at all times, as well as the film.

Highest of all the Holy Writ, though is the IPCC Consensus Statement, and the epistles from various computer simulations that form the books of that particular Testament. To doubt computer simulations is to doubt, well, reality. And if you doubt reality, then you're a fool, and not one of the True Faith.

Sacrifices can be made, like a whole hour of electricity out of 4032 available a year. Also to be placed on the altar are the lives that could be saved if the funds devoted to cap and trade were used instead to provide clean drinking water, education and vaccinations to the Third World. Some acolytes punish themselves so brutally for their Gaia transgressions that they have no choice but to fly thousands of miles to vacation destinations to meditate on their sins.

There is no expiation for the crime of being born in the CO2-emitting Western world, which makes this among the most forlorn of religions available. Al Gore can't save you, though he WILL sell you an indulgence in the form of a carbon offset. Whether he's actually planting the trees or whatever remains to be seen.

And like all dedicated fundamentalists, contrary evidence simply demands more faith. Earth not warming? Well, that just means it's going to get that much hotter in the future, you silly peasant. Are you happy now? Contradictions are also met with renewed fervor rather than logic. Even though nuclear plants emit no CO2, you shouldn't be using that much electricity anyway, so no nuclear plants. QED.

Alan, you live pretty close (okay, closer than me) to Amory Lovins, who's the kind of environmentalist I can live with. He's a big proponent of building in efficiency, of "negawatts" that never need to be used. He's not in favor of massive population reduction or drastic changes, just a successive replacement of existing sources of consumption with ones that consume far less, allowing our resources to last much, much longer. He's an environmentalist who's discovered grace. He's also a voice in the wilderness in the environmental world.

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