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Julie Delegal: Faith, fear and climate science

I have to laugh, or else I’d be crying.

Certain religious fanatics offer a constant supply of fodder for TV comedians and columnists like me. Who doesn’t poke fun at Pat Robertson’s contention that “demonic” religions (like Buddhism!) can infect items you buy at the Goodwill store?

But in truth, Christo-fundamentalist ideology is dangerous. As a Christian, I was raised to respect the religious beliefs of others. Being respectful, however, cannot include standing by and indulging those who, wearing the guise of religion, deliberately peddle ignorance and bigotry.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous,” according to the twentieth century’s premier Christian leader, “than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

When the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. uttered those words, he was no doubt referring to ignorance-engendered racism, and not ignorance-induced climate change denial.

When science contradicts peoples’ limited concept of God, and politicians pander to them by censoring words like “climate change” and “global warming” from official state documents, we are in big trouble.

Vanderbilt Law School professor Edward L. Rubin explains beautifully how it is that the climate science shakes some believers’ faith in God. The desperate idea that God will save us from ourselves insulates some faithful from the fear of rising waters, mass migrations, extreme rainfalls, mudslides and droughts.

Rubin didn’t write about the darker dogma to which some literalist-fundamentalist Christians ascribe: The notion that God needs us to help Him bring a calamitous conflagration to the planet that He has charged to our care. This subset of Christians wants a literal Armageddon. A literal Jesus swoop-down.

The Apostle Paul told us that as we grow up, we need to put away childish things. I would argue that biblical literalism is one of those childish things.

Understanding that human activity has wrecked our earth need not conflict with our understanding of God.

It is faith that calls us to stand up and save our planet. It is faith that tells us that the love of God, which is reflected most in our love for each other, will work through all contingencies for those who believe in that Love.

We need to embrace an adult spirituality that encompasses responsible stewardship for our planet. And we need to get a handle on our carbon emissions. Fast.

So, if your concept of God prevents you from facing the truth about climate change, get a bigger concept. There is no fear in Love.

And fear wastes precious time.

Julie Delegal, a University of Florida alumna, is a contributor for Folio Weekly, Jacksonville’s alternative weekly, and writes for the family business, Delegal Law Offices. She lives in Jacksonville. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

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