Monday, 12 November 2007

Save the world? I doubt it.

The Sydney Morning Herald is promoting one of its many secular religions:

ON A bonny spring day, three generations of Sydneysiders numbering in their thousands marched to express their concerns about global warming.

Among them was six-year-old Thomas Dimech, who announced their collective aim: "I want to save the planet," he said.

The eco-movement is full of the language of salvation and redemption, and not without reason. That's what is on offer, if you and I work hard enough to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

It's a much easier problem to deal with than the problem of sin in the human heart, and doesn't require much in the way of repentance. Idealism, censoriousness, moralism and a larger-than life cause all rolled into one.

A genuinely Christian response to this religion won't mean either blanket acceptance or blanket rejection of the morality it preaches. But we have some work ahead of us to uncover the toxic ideas that are feeding into it. Save the world? Not by this method!

Tim Challies makes some related observations here in a piece entitled 'Environmentalism—A New Religion'.


One Salient Oversight said...

I stopped reading Challies when it became obvious that he was one of these weirdos who thinks that global warming is just bad science and a conspiracy theory. Unless he's changed his mind, I won't consider what he writes to be worthwhile.

Byron Smith is a better bet.

Jeff A said...

I threw a cat food tin in the normal bin the other day...perhaps I need to pray to the recycling gods for forgiveness


Gordon Cheng said...

I stopped reading Challies

I know, I know. I get so upset reading stuff I disagree with.

I've stopped reading the newspapers and watching television for much the same reason.

luke s. said...

So which do you prefer Gordo, ACA or Today Tonight?

As for the idea of environmentalism being a new religion, I think it's lazy Christian thinking.

Almost everything that non-Christian people are passionate about at one time or another is invariably decried by Christians as 'a new religion' and tut-tutted in proportion to the passion for the subject. Sport, consumption, politics, you name it.

Then it's set up against Christianity, shown to be inferior, and we can feel good about ourselves for wanting to save people from their crazy ideas.

Sure the greenies have quite the lunatic fringe, but the idea of 'sustainability' seems pretty sensible to me, not some crazy new religion. Likewise saving the world from the results of industrialization/post-industrialization.

But then again, we're rich and comfortable, so we can afford to sit in judgment. If we were poor and suffering the environmental consequences of wealthy Western consumption, maybe we'd take it a little more seriously?

Gordon Cheng said...

So which do you prefer Gordo, ACA or Today Tonight?

Naturally I watch them both. As I have opportunity.

Environmentalism has all the aspects of religion. A moral system, an eschatology, a fall from grace, a path of salvation. Naturally there will be ways of being committed to the environment that are free from elements of these, or have them in their correct place (Christianity, for example). But to deny the religious elements of these things entirely is lacking in perception.

Gordon Cheng said...

As I have opportunity.

(Which is about once every two years, for about five minutes while waiting to pick up fish and chips!)

luke s. said...

I don't think it's a lack of perception, I just think the allegorizing is tired and unnecessary. You can do the same for just about anything, eg shopping - we pursue salvation from our fallen state by consumption, hoping to reach utopia by buying more stuff. Perceptive? Hardly, it doesn't even make sense - who's claiming to be personally saved? What god are they appealing to?

The result is to just white wash the entire issue with glib generalizations. "Environemntalism != Christianity, therefore bad". "Shopping != Christianity, therefore bad." Neither are entirely bad of course and attempts at qualifications are made, but the flip side of the argument invariably gets lost in the generalizations - does global capitalism pull people out of poverty? Will the environmental movement indeed save the planet?

Why bash non-Christians for wanting to do their best about quite a serious issue, just because they are non-Christians?

Gordon Cheng said...

Actually, the Bible does teach that shopping, in so far as it represents greed, is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). So the comparison to my argument about environmentalism doesn't particularly bother me. And, given that you've made generalizations about my generalizations, even the use of generalizations doesn't particularly perturb me. Whether they are glib or not is for others to judge.