Lack of Environment

A blog on the politics and psychology underlying the denial of all our environmental problems

History

with 20 comments


(i.e. Why do I keep mentioning God?)
As I have said to many people over the years, although I originally did a straightforward Geology degree, it felt at the time as if I were doing the Philosophy of Science or, even, joint honours in Geology and Theology (if such a thing exists).

Although I cannot prove it, at the time (1983-86), I believe my faith in God antagonised my lecturers so much they did not give my work very high marks, which ultimately resulted in me not doing very well. Of course, it is equally possible that my high level of involvement in student activism (within the Christian Union) distracted me from my academic studies! However, in defence of my former hypothesis (that my faith annoyed people), I should say two things:
(1) In a weird case of possible pre-cognition, I decided to thoroughly research the Origin of Life for my 2nd-year exams and, when the subject came up, I duly wrote an essay which went through all the theories current at the time and pointed out the problems with each one; finishing with the conclusion that life on Earth may not be entirely capable of scientific explanation. (I know this annoyed the marker because he told me so; and would not release my essay to me afterwards).
(2) In my final year, I know for a fact that my final year dissertation supervisor was very annoyed by my general conclusions (again because he told me so), in which I quoted two famous geologists, as follows:
Geology is a particularly alluring field for premature attempts at the explanation of imperfectly understood data” (Dana); and
Geology has to choose between the rashness of using imperfect evidence or the sterility of uncorrelated, unexplained facts” (Gregory).

Leaving all that aside, however, my long journey from rejection of Young Earth Creationism (pre-1983) to possible acceptance of theistic evolution (post-2009) is detailed in my Falsifiable Theology ‘blog’ (so will not now be repeated here). However, as I am not maintaining the latter as a true blog, if people have any comments and/or observations they wish to make on this subject, please post them here (not there). Alternatively, why not become a friend of Falsifiable Theology on Facebook?

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important” (C. S. Lewis)
The trouble is, I know it all in my head but, life has not gone according to any discernable plan; I have never heard God speak to me; and nowadays I even doubt the experiential faith I once had. However, through it all, there is one thing I have always been sure of; that there are more important things in life than making a profit. Therefore, I believe that God would prefer us to be good stewards of our environment, rather than be those who just want to go forth and multiply; and fill, use, and have dominion over it (which is not going to end well).

Written by Martin Lack

14 September 2011 at 10:59

20 Responses

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  1. I agree with your conclusion but completely disagree with the C.S. Lewis quote right before it. I would change the quote as follows

    Christianity, if true, is of infinite importance, and if false, is of infinite importance anyway

    The importance being the impact of the ideals of Jesus Christ on humanity, whether he is God or not.

    I take ‘true’ or ‘false’ to mean ‘God exists’ vs ‘God does not exist’, but it should have been clearly defined when used as a fundamental binary ‘on’ or ‘off’ switch that supposedly defines the value of Christianity.

    Mados

    13 February 2012 at 09:01

    • Thanks for your feedback, Mados. Personally, I would not dare to suggest that an iconic figure such as C. S. Lewis had got something wrong; or failed to explain himself very well.

      However, for the record, I think he was trying to make the point that, if Jesus was and is the incarnation of God in human form, Christianity is not just a religion (i.e. a programme for salvation by good deeds) it is the truth (i.e. the way of salvation by faith in Christ). Whereas, if it is false (i.e. the early Christians were deceived, deceitful, or deluded) then Christianity is just another religion… “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:7).

      I know that to say such a thing is very non-PC these days but, I really do think that is what C. S. Lewis meant; and he would not have shrunk from saying it.

      Martin Lack

      13 February 2012 at 09:21

  2. I still disagree with both him and you. C.S. Lewis being iconic doesn’t mean he can’t be wrong and that I can not have a different opinion.

    Mados

    17 February 2012 at 09:42

    • If you were right (that CS Lewis was merely debating whether or not God exists), he need not have used the word Christianity. The fact that he did cannot IMHO be ignored. Of course you are entitled to have a different opinion; but so is he; and so am I (and at least one of us is wrong about this)… :-)

      However, the fact remains that my interpretation of what (I feel is clear) CS Lewis meant is consistent with everything else he wrote in Mere Christianity (i.e. the clue to his thinking is in the ironic title for the book).

      Martin Lack

      17 February 2012 at 09:53

      • Sure. Personally I don’t accept either his criteria or his authority to make that judgement (or any person’s), I think it is misguided/arrogant and simplistic. And yes, since he doesn’t specify ‘true’ and ‘false’ it is open for interpretation.

        Mados

        17 February 2012 at 10:03

  3. Also, religions aren’t false. Faith provides access points for humans to connect to God, there is not just one way to do that. It is not a binary question. Also, there is so great diversity even within Christianity, and even between the ways Christians within the same nomination relate to God (if at all), that you would be forgiven for doubting it is even the same God.

    Anyway … it is one of those topics that are totally unsuitable for Internet debate and end up polarising people and wasting everybody’s time.

    Mados

    17 February 2012 at 09:52

    • You are right about the danger of polarising debate. However, I did not exactly say that all religions are false, I just think that, without Christianity, they are all stumbling around in the dark; and have no answers. That being the case, Karl Marx would have been right to call them “the opiate of the masses” (IMHO).

      Martin Lack

      17 February 2012 at 09:59

      • Not sure what the difference is between ‘false’ and ‘stumbling around in the dark and have no answers’?

        Anyway, answers is the one thing that every religion has:-)

        Mados

        17 February 2012 at 10:07

      • I think we had better agree to disagree on the issue of whether God is a paranoid schizophrenic who keeps changing his story…

        Martin Lack

        17 February 2012 at 10:35

  4. I think that is not at all the issue at hand and certainly not my opinion.

    I think if we look through the surface of the discussion, the disagreement is caused by perspectives that are a world apart. One perspective is the intellectual/literal perception of Christianity. I’ve abandoned that, because in my view it leads to strong polarisation and endless discussions about ‘who is right’ that don’t bring anyone closer to God. I think Jesus warned against intellectualisation of faith and basically said that it misses the point.

    I think God tries to translate himself into symbols that make sense to humans because he wants us to relate to him. The point is the relationship, not the symbols. The fruit of the relationship to God is how it changes us and opens us up to the best we can be; how it is a model for better relationships to each other, and over time, how we ‘steward’ the world (with compassion and long term VS selfishly and short sighted). God wants us to look through the surface, but we have strong inherent tendencies to prioritise our interpretation, symbols and cultural systems. We get obsessed with making the story all tie up to use it as a weapon against competing stories but miss the point of what the story tries to tell us in the first place.

    Relating to God is simple and intuitive, the hard thing is to let go of all the cultural/traditional complications and typical human obsession with dissecting everything and accept that He just is.

    Mados

    18 February 2012 at 01:17

    • Mados, I hope you do not feel I am seeking to ridicule your position or put words in your mouth. On the contrary, whether wise or unwise, all I was doing was trying to summarise my own position in a light-hearted manner. Your position is very clear to me, as is that of C.S. Lewis. Therefore, whilst I have no problem with you disagreeing with him (or me), I do not think you should seek to re-interpret what he said.

      As for me, like C S Lewis and St Paul, I see little reason to believe in God if Christianity is false. I recently explained this position further on GeoChristian:
      http://geochristian.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/blind-unbelief/.

      Moral relativism and/or ‘the marketplace of ideas’ is a post-modernist social construction designed to keep everyone happy, but that does not make it right.

      Martin Lack

      18 February 2012 at 09:22

      • I think we are world’s apart in the way we think, and you seem to misunderstand me on all counts. I don’t try to re-interpret Lewis’ quote, I think he is wrong. I know many Christians think like him, and I think they are wrong too. My opinion isn’t a ‘post-modernist marketplace of ideas’ or morally relativistic ‘everything goes’ kind of attitude. And the last thing you can call me is moral relativist, I am not morally flexible at all.

        What I mean is: listen to the essence of the Christian message, it is intuitive and and you don’t need a PhD to understand it, but you do need the ability to trust and have faith in its validity without putting up conditions. A 5 year-old kid can get what it is all about as easily as a priest whose life centres around Scriptures. In fact you can study the words all your life and know the Bible in your sleep and fight hard and long to get all the (often seemingly contradicting) details to tie up logically, historically and (pseudo-) scientifically without ever grasping the essence of what it tries to tell you.

        It seems to be human nature to tend to get entangled in details of our complicated symbolic interpretation systems and obsessed with de-tangling them intellectually according to their own logic, and then miss the bigger picture / the key message the stories serve as a vehicle for.

        Mados

        19 February 2012 at 03:47

      • Mados. I have explained to you what CS Lewis meant. You do not agree. So be it. I do not see how all religions can lead to God. You do not agree. Ditto.

        I do not think I misunderstand you at all, but I do not have to agree with you either. Can we please leave it there?

        Martin Lack

        19 February 2012 at 23:17

  5. Yes.

    Mados

    20 February 2012 at 07:12

  6. You cannot equate faith in God (with no “evidence”) with “faith” in anthropogenic climate disruption (lots of evidence). These two things are absolutely not comparible. Do you believe in radio waves? If you did not have a radio, you would find it hard to prove they exist. Therefore, which is more rational:
    1. To choose to believe in the God revealed in Christianity (given the inexplicable nature of the Empty Tomb of Jesus Christ); or
    2. To refuse to accept human responsibility for something deduced from basic physics, consistent with what we learn from palaeoclimatology, and now being confirmed by observations?

    One is faith-based response to history and/or experience, the other is a fact-based decision that is only valid if you objectively consider all the evidence.

    Martin Lack

    26 February 2012 at 12:39

    • Tesla new about radio waves before the invention of radio. He was an experimental physicist. Will an experimental physicist ever find proof of God? That is a matter of faith or doubt. Many evangelical Christians deny the world is 4.6 billion years old that is their faith. Many people doubt climate scientists. That is their faith or their doubt as you wish to have it. My faith is that quantum physics is mostly baloney but then I just want my own TV show.

      Pacific Weatherman

      26 February 2012 at 13:52

      • No-one can prove God exists, but we have masses of proof that climate disruption is happening and the only explanation that fits all the facts is the one first sketched-out by Tyndall 150 years ago; and since confirmed by palaeoclimatology. Young Earth Creationism is an irrational invention of the 20th Century mind – an over-reaction to over-zealous scientists like Dawkins who elevate Darwinism to the status of a religion. You don’t need faith to believe in anthropogenic climate change – you just need to stop listening to the Merchants of Doubt (like you did when you (hopefully) decided to stop smoking).

        Martin Lack

        26 February 2012 at 18:09

  7. What your site lacks, with all due respect for what it contains, is a simple explanation of the physics of global temperature control. I hope you will rectify that on Tuesday. If not I will write one for you if you wish. I was amazed, when I investigated it, how simple it is. The complexity is only in the weather not the physics.

    Pacific Weatherman

    27 February 2012 at 06:37

    • Is this not what I achieved on 6 February 2012, with Climate Science in a Nut Fragment? Ah-hah! Perhaps you mean I should add such an explanation as a static Page? If so, I would welcome your (non-radiative forcing) input. :-)

      Martin Lack

      27 February 2012 at 08:21


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