This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations or presbytery I serve.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Why Global Warming Has Nothing to do with Genesis 8:22.

On Genesis 8:22.

I am told that some of those who deny global warming assert that it can’t be happening because of Genesis 8:22.  Apparently, they are reading Genesis 8:22 to mean that human beings do not have the power to alter the Earth’s climate at all.  They say it would be arrogance to make such a claim, because in Genesis 8:22 God says the climate can’t be changed.  Case closed.
So I read Genesis 8:22.  Here it is.

As long as the earth endures,
   seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night,
   shall not cease.

Genesis 8:22 appears at the end of the story of Noah and the Great Flood.  After that comprehensive disaster, God promises not to do it again.  Destroy virtually all life on the planet, that is.  
There is no scientific scenario associated with global warming that indicates that it will destroy the Earth or wipe out all life.  Genesis 8:22 says that seasons will continue.  Global warming does not threaten the seasons, which are a result of the angle of the Earth as it orbits around the sun.  Even if the temperature of the Earth reaches the maximum predicted by scientists, and the icecaps and glaciers all melted away to nothing, and sea level rose the predicted 64 meters or so, and so on, there would still be “seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.”  
Nothing in scientific global warming predictions contradicts Genesis 8:22.  Seedtime and harvest will be different in terms of timing and geography, cold and heat will be distributed differently, summer and winter will be changed, and of course the recurring pattern of day and night isn’t even in question.  But they will all still happen.  Genesis 8:22 doesn’t say these things shall not change.  It says they shall not cease.
The Bible makes the point that changes in weather and climate do continue to happen without violating Genesis 8:22.  There are droughts.  There are localized floods.  There are earthquakes and volcanoes.  There are famines and plagues.  Disasters still happen.
So the Genesis 8:22 thing is a red herring.  It is not relevant to global warming.


Why Freedom Means Justice for the Powerless.

Power Changes Everything.

“Freedom of speech” often assumes an equality that does not exist, both among the people and the ideas.  Sometimes the people who most loudly claim freedom of speech are the ones with the loudest most well-funded voices.  This is especially true in a country where the courts have arbitrarily and self-servingly declared that “money is speech.”  
Jesus makes a point of lifting up and privileging the powerless, marginalized, disenfranchised, and voiceless/silenced.  For his followers, freedom of speech can only mean doing the same in our cultural discourse.  In other words, we amplify the voices of weaker people and intentionally diminish the voices of the strong.  It means squashing calls for violence, repression, domination, and silencing of the marginalized, while at the same time giving new privilege and space to voices of arising from situations of oppression, exclusion, powerlessness, and victimization.  
Following the example of the Lord Jesus, his church goes to the places of weakness, disease, brokenness, exclusion, and pain, with messages and practices of healing and welcome.  It also disregards or even casts out the influence of powerful, established interests.  (See Matthew 23:1-36, Luke 1:47-55; 4:18-19; etc.; John 2:13-16 and parallels.) Indeed, beginning as the record of a band of escaped slaves, the whole Bible inherently and reflexively sides with the victims, the losers, and the marginalized. 
“Freedom of religion,” therefore, can never be used by followers of Jesus to victimize or impose their will on others who are weaker.  To use freedom this way is a categorical rejection of Jesus.  
The Scriptures realize that this kind of “freedom” only leads to a further congealing of power among the already powerful.  Hence the rules for life given by God to the people have the effect of preventing the accrual of power in the hands of a few.  That was the regime from which they were delivered in Egypt.  The Torah, especially in a chapter like Leviticus 25,  explicitly provides for the periodic redistribution of wealth — and therefore power — downward.
Freedom isn’t real unless everyone is free.  The only way for everyone to be free is for those who have too much power to lose it, and those who have too little to gain it.