Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Who is he that struck thee?", unladen swallows, and global climate change

And they blindfolded him, and asked him, saying, 'Prophesy: who is he that struck thee?' Luke 22:64

Jesus, the Son of God and one who confessed to being "one" with the creator of the universe, was mocked. His tormentors expected him to be able to relate information about the physical world around him, to use his omniscience to say what had just happened while blindfolded. The text does not say that Jesus bothered to answer such a question.

Similarly, imagine some philosophical bullies trying to taunt one of the great Christians in history, say Mother Teresa or Saint Francis. Can you imagine a bully demanding that St. Francis answer a question about the science of the moon-- to have an up-to-date understanding of what his contemporaries new about astronomy? Such an expectation would be absurd. Or more recent bullies might ask Mother Teresa something about the atom. But I doubt ever her harshest critics would expect her to have supernaturally obtained information about the physical sciences around her. No one is that mean. These great Christians knew their place, and few of their critics demanded something completely out of their job description.

But what if Mother Teresa did make it a point to say something utterly stupid about nuclear science-- and then tied it to an eternal spiritual truth? How would most people react to the spiritual truth on this basis? I'm guessing that most people would respect the preacher with few scientific opinions but doubt the one who has strong opinions and is horribly wrong about them. You might take everything the latter preacher says with a grain of salt. You might wonder how much of what they say, they really believe, or are they just reciting propaganda?

Consider the science behind global climate change. Here are three cases:
  • Jerry Falwell gave a sermon where he called concern about climate change to be a trick of the devil. In it, he distinguished between fake and "evangelical scientists." He also told us we really had to pay attention to the findings of one paper in Nature. Interestingly, if you look at other articles by that author or in that season of Nature, you'd find tons of evidence for catastrophic anthropogenic warming. Was the scientist only "evangelical" when he said something that could be taken out of context?
  • A pastor I know put on his facebook page a Michelle Malkin article saying that scientists were covering up evidence that the earth has been cooling! The pastor then went on to defend the article!
  • Another pastor put these three items on his blog: i) a widget that updated folks on regional flooding concerns, ii) a FoxNews widget, and iii) a sarcastic comment that a Lutheran body had made a statement about global climate change. The ironies of these three items being together is just astounding!
Don't get me wrong. I believe that folks should become evangelical, bible-believing, tradition-honoring Christians. I just think that when we tie garbage to the gospel, people will mistrust all of Christianity as kooks or idiots.

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