Friday, May 4, 2007

Paradise Lost

As an Atheist, religion holds a certain curiosity for me. I grew up in the Church and my transition from believer to non-believer was a gradual one that took place over many years of continued study during my adult life. I don't seem to recall there being any one pivotal moment that changed my way of thinking. For years I considered myself Agnostic and just eventually completed the transition.

The extended transition is, I believe, a process that has made me much more accepting of those who still choose to believe. My transition to libertarianism from conservatism took place during this same extended time period.

Some people, however, are not so fortunate in their epiphanies. Take the case of the poor bastard pointed to here by Tim Blair. This fellow is apparently a true believer in the religion of Environmentalism (and yes it is a religion). Apparently, he was just recently slapped in the face with the realization that the orthodoxy's premier profit, Al Gore, is not pure of heart.

During his live slideshow today, however, he showed his true colors. One of his slides was a quote from Genesis, which he used to show that humans are the stewards of biodiversity. I have no problem with people quoting from the bible (as long as it makes sense), but I found it kind of funny that he went out of his way to announce that he did not mean to push his religious beliefs on people by using the scripture in his slideshow. I didn't really see the need for this disclaimer, because I actually agreed with the use of the scripture.

The slide I found particularly interesting/shocking/sad, was his new(?) slide containing a graph of human population growth over the past couple hundred-thousand years. It started off good. He pointed at the beginning of the graph, showing the population of humans on Earth from 200,000 years ago, and referred to the "rise of humans."

Cool beans. So he believes that Homo sapiens evolved from other hominid ancestors, right? Nope. In the very same breath, he then continued to explain that according to his religious beliefs, this "rise of humans" was God's creation of mankind - apparently 200,000 years ago. His graph then changed to include the caption "Adam & Eve" above this starting point.
One can only imagine that such a sight must have felt like a right hook from Tyson in his prime. After all, one of the most vociferous arguments from those who espouse the idea of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), is that anyone that disagrees with its teachings is either a shill for "Big Oil" or a backwards rube who rejects science, just like those idiot Christians.

The right hook was followed by a quick left jab:

I started laughing, and I had to consciously blink my eyes and double-check the screen to make sure I was seeing it properly. Let me get this straight...the guy's entire presentation exists in order to present people with the scientific data showing that human-caused climate change is a fact. He does his very best to include references in all of the slides, showing to any thinking person that this data is not made up, that it comes from the forefront of our scientific research (there was many slides containing data from Science journal, and a few from Nature).

At the same time, he tarnishes his beautifully crafted presentation by not only stating his belief in creationism - but by placing the words "Adam and Eve" right on the slide (which is actually a scientific graph) as a caption explaining the beginnings of mankind.
Once his head stopped spinning, I would bet that the sense of betrayal emanating from him must have been palpable to those closet to him.

Something doesn't add up here. On one hand, he is using science to predict the disastrous outcome of our current actions and rally support for taking proactive measures to make sure bad things don't happen, but on the other hand, he is clinging to stone-age beliefs that another very important area of science has proven wrong (that we humans evolved from other forms of life, and that every organism on Earth has a common ancestor).

And of course, all the religious people in the audience get to feel good knowing that this important politician sees no dilemma in using this this zero-sum belief system. I should also note that at this point in the lecture (I'll call it the schism) he stated that there is no conflict between science and religion. He appeared as though he wanted to say more about this, and even mentioned the Scopes trial, but then decided to continue on with the slideshow instead.


The schism pretty much ruined the rest of the show for me. His message about climate change and our need to take action was great, inspiring even. However, I am now somewhat confused about the sort of man that is Al Gore. If you're going to be intellectually honest about issues like climate change, than why not carry through to the next logical step and apply this kind of honest thinking to everything?
While it would be easy to engage in some good ol' schadenfreude at this poor bastard's realization that Al Gore is nothing more than an opportunist scumbag, it is never easy watching true believers abruptly faced with reality.

Update: Elliot Joseph has more thoughts on Environmentalism as religion.


invadesoda said...

You reminded me of an old "Frank and Ernest" cartoon. Two monkeys in a tree and one says "Adam will never amount to anything. He keeps falling from the tree."

invadesoda said...

The extended transition is, I believe, a process that has made me much more accepting of those who still choose to believe

As a small-c Christian (wink), I have always appreciated your tolerance for those of us on the other side of this line. It's a breath of fresh air, really.

Liberty Dog said...

I hold no malice against anyone who chooses to believe in any religion so long as they do so without trying to force me to follow their standards.

Hell, I don't even mind someone trying to proselytize me. It makes for interesting conversation.

My problem is with those that try to exert their will upon me through the force of the government, whether they be Christians, Muslims, or Environmentalists.

invadesoda said...

Amen to that!

Elliott said...

And to think that the enviro-believers would have us believe it was all about "science"! As to government enforcement - believe me, for some of us it's a nascent reality ..

Al said...

Anybody who hasn't needs to go read Elliot's article. It really kicks butt.

I left a comment there that would fit in well here, too.

BTW, I think having invadesoda at my place is what dragged me back over that line.