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I Will Definitely Call It A Religion

Previous posts have highlighted the similarities between the adherents of AGW and religion. Indeed, it should be unsurprising that the two have so much in common. All of the utopian movements and catastrophic chicken-little crusades use religious language and typologies. This is because these movements stem from the same human desire and satisfy the same human needs, as religion does.

Two months ago in the United Kingdom,  a court ruled that the belief in man-caused global warming  is equivalent to a religious belief, and as such is protected by law. The ruling had few defenders, as neither the Christians nor the global warming crowd wished to be associated with the other. The Christians objected to having AGW believers raised to their level, while the latter group protested being lowered to it.

But it was the plaintiff himself who saw the danger in all this. Tim Nicholson, who had brought suit after losing his job as the Head of Sustainability for a UK residential firm, won when the judge rejected claims by the defense that AGW couldn’t be a religion because it could be proven by scientific data. Nonsense, said the judge. AGW was clearly a “philosophical,” rather than scientific, belief. But “This isn’t some new religion,” protested Mr. Nicholson, unwittingly undermining his winning legal strategy. “This isn’t a faith-based belief, but a belief based on overwhelming scientific evidence.”

I have no doubt that Mr. Nicholson sincerely believes that the science has “proven” his beliefs to be true. I also have no doubt that Christians are absolutely positive that their view is correct, just as are Muslims. All of these beliefs satisfy the natural human fear of uncertainty. They offer a definitive account of not only the here and now, but of the impending future, free of any doubt or unanswered questions. All of them, and other religions as well, know for sure that everyone else with every other belief is ignorant and doomed to death and/or hell.

All of these belief systems rely on warm embraces for the faithful, apocalyptic warning for unbelievers, anger directed at heretics, relentless proselytizing, rituals, symbols, dogma, and holidays. It is not a coincidence that those with a strong belief in traditional religious faiths are least likely to adopt the cloak of an AGW congregant. The have filled their need for such a belief system. Nor is it a surprise that should a religious person be swept up by environmental craziness, they run the risk of loosening the bonds they have with their current faith, hence the concern among the churches. 

Most relevantly, none of the adherents of these belief systems are in the least bit open to new ideas, and thus they can’t be argued with. They never discuss their faith with the idea that some of it, let alone its very foundations could be wrong. Indeed, most of them will avoid any point by point discussion, because they don’t want to know if they’re wrong, even if it turns out they are. If you have ever gone to the good websites on climate change, you will see an impressive array of data, charts, numbers, and seemingly convincing answers to the common objections from the other side. But the thing is, you can find these good sites from each side. This allows all to find the site that reaffirms their belief, and does so with what looks to the believer to be powerful evidence. Why can’t the other side see this?!  they plead. 

Up until the 1970’s the Mormon church forbade blacks entry into the priesthood, because Brigham Young had received a revelation from God that said blacks were unfit for the priesthood because of the “curse of Cain.”  The Western Athletic Conference was on the verge of kicking out Brigham Young University, when the proverbial phone rang. It was God. He imparted a new revelation, just in time, to the effect that the church should now ignore his previous revelation on the subject and give blacks full rights. The revelation was announced, blacks entered the priesthood, and BYU got to stay in the WAC. Many Mormons at the time protested vigorously that the new “revelation” undercut the idea that the “prophets” were at all prophetical, as indeed it did. In fact, logically, either the previous revelations were bogus or the latest one was. Now it might surprise no one to find out that this episode resulted in not the slightest harm to the Mormon church, nor any noticeable reduction in its membership. Those who had dedicated their entire existence on this earth to the belief system weren’t about to walk away from it just because it appeared to a rational mind to be a made up bunch of trash. The mind rationalizes what it must.

But religious belief, environmentalism, and other philosophical movements are so beneficial to the individual that they transcend the level of cognitive judgement. These beliefs prove too useful to the individual to discard merely because they are false. They provide an organizing principle around which people structure their entire lives, and here is where we can so clearly see the connection between the types of faith. Environmentalism used to be a global outlook, or perhaps a local ethic. It has morphed into a dogma that not only informs its believers as to all aspects of political life, but mandates their daily activity, as well. The reason why the beliefs of religions, AGW, or other philosophical movements become so ingrained in the persona of an individual, and the reason why its adherents are unwilling to seriously examine the veracity of its claims, is that they form a grounded pole around which all aspects of a person’s life orbit. They define one’s political outlook, worldview, and ethical system. They provide a metaphysical context. But, what’s more, they animate the daily activities and behaviors of the believers. This is why it is so pertinent that the radical environmental movement has begun to be the basis of the “small footprint” do-gooder actions of the flock. Each day, they awake and begin to do the good deeds and avoid the sins and preach the gospel of their faith. And at the end of their day they feel very, very good about themselves because of it.

Of course, not all belief systems should be regarded as equal in the eyes of the nonbelievers. Christianity’s days of conversion by force are behind her, but Islam and the radical environmental movement are just now feeling their oats. The Guardian’s Andrew Brown, a radical environmentalist, is concerned about the UK ruling in the Nicholson case because modern Western political thought maintains that the state should stay neutral in religious matters. This won’t do for Mr. Brown, who believes, and is comfortable writing this in a major national newspaper, that the state must forcefully declare an end to discussion of environmental wackiness and immediately crack down hard on dissent. He agrees that his own pathology is like a religion in so far as he believes that children of the faith should be heavily indoctrinated in the creed before they reach the age where their reason might allow them to be free of it. In this, he echoes the instruction of nearly all deeply religious people. It’s just that the usual restrictions religions accept for themselves seem to trouble Mr. Brown, specifically, he indicates, the whole opposition-of-fascistic-application-of-the-belief provision.

Radical Islam and radical environmentalism both represent a significant threat to human freedom and prosperity and therefore must be fought vigorously. Christianity, like Buddhism, and Hinduism, and hundreds of other faiths, does not. But their similarities are greater than their differences.

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Categories: Climate Change, Environmentalism, Religion

8 replies

  1. Environmentalism used to be a global outlook, or perhaps a local ethic. It has morphed into a dogma that not only informs its believers as to all aspects of political life, but mandates their daily activity, as well.

    Excellent and illuminating point. Environmentalists have even created their own dietary restrictions, just like Islam and many other faiths.

    Nicely written piece, DFV, the Beast agrees with it totally. One major element of the AGW movement you did not address is the fact that it has sprung from socialist roots. When global Communism collapsed an ideological void was created. The movement had patently failed to create the utopia so many had sacrificed to bring about. With their belief set so discredited socialists turned to Environmentalism to implement the same old grab-bag of socio-economic policies by fiat because they could no longer credibly argue for them politically. There’s a vast volume of writing on the religious element at work in Socialism/Communism, so no point going into detail about that here – it’s an established fact.

    But it’s important to note that Environmentalism did not jump from the fields and labs straight to the pulpit, it got hijacked by the same left that used to practice a “Scientific Socialism” that led to the same sort of abominable totalitarianism practiced by Mao, Stalin and Hitler.

  2. No question about it, Beast. The Left sees in radical environmentalism a chance to force in all the government restriction that they have been unable to accomplish through the ballot box.

  3. Do you have any citation or source for your story about BYU and the WAC? I’ve never heard that one before.

  4. For background, go here. And some specific details are here.

    On October 17, 1969, at approximately 9:30 a.m., 14 members of the University of Wyoming football team confronted Head Football Coach Lloyd Eaton and members of his coaching staff in Memorial Fieldhouse at the University of Wyoming…. The players had provided the coach with a letter… demanding that:

    (a) University officials at the University of Wyoming, as well as other member institutions in the Western Athletic Conference, not use student monies and university facilities to play host to and thereby in part sanction alleged inhuman racist policies of the Mormon Church.

    (b) That athletic directors in the Western Athletic Conference refuse to schedule and play games with BYU so long as the Mormon Church continues such alleged policies.

    (c) That black athletes in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) protest in some way any contest with BYU so long as the Mormon Church continued such alleged policies, and

    (d) That all white people of good will, athletes included, protest with their black fellows a policy allegedly clearly inhuman and racist and that the symbol of protest be the black armband worn throughout any contest involving BYU….

    A WAC basketball game between Colorado State University and BYU was scheduled for February 5, 1970, in Moby Gymnasium on the CSU Campus at Fort Collins, Colorado.

    During the game’s halftime intermission, pom pom girls from BYU were performing on the basketball floor when a group of persons (largely students) invaded the basketball court carrying signs of protest against the claimed discriminatory practices of the Mormon Church and BYU. This group marched the length of the floor and disrupted the girls’ performance. Campus police and City of Fort Collins police were called, and they attempted to control the melee. A fight broke out between an employee who was trying to wipe down the basketball floor and several of the demonstrators, and it was stopped by the police only with substantial difficulty.

  5. But religious belief, environmentalism, and other philosophical movements are so beneficial to the individual that they transcend the level of cognitive judgement. These beliefs prove too useful to the individual to discard merely because they are false. They provide an organizing principle around which people structure their entire lives, and here is where we can so clearly see the connection between the types of faith. Environmentalism used to be a global outlook, or perhaps a local ethic. It has morphed into a dogma that not only informs its believers as to all aspects of political life, but mandates their daily activity, as well.

    Later you go on to say that Christianity’s forced conversion days are behind her. However, the overriding principle of your thesis is that radical environmentalism is akin to mainstream Christianity or Catholicism. This is an affront to most that sit in pews on Sunday and don’t require some massive restructuring of society to meet their specified views of the socio-political world.

    I also found this interesting:

    It is not a coincidence that those with a strong belief in traditional religious faiths are least likely to adopt the cloak of an AGW congregant.

    Perhaps, but according to who? Your comparison is flawed because you are implying guilt by dissassociation. It is also a coincidence that Republicans and smart people are least likely to adopt the cloak of an AGW congregant as well. This only shows intellect and reason, not an adherance to radical religious beliefs.

  6. “radical environmentalism is akin to mainstream Christianity….”

    Depends on how you interpret “radical.” My use of it refers to those people who hold enviromentalism so dear that it controls their decisions on daily matters, such as where to shop, what clothes to wear, what to eat, and most definitely whom to associate with. I don’t mean those enviromentalists who advocate killing or arresting “deniers.” Those are beyond radical, they are extremist, and could only be compared to a small slice of religious believers.

    It is also a coincidence that Republicans and smart people are least likely to adopt the cloak of an AGW congregant as well. This only shows intellect and reason, not an adherance to radical religious beliefs.

    Again, I never said Christianity or Islam are “radical” religious beliefs. And you overstate the intellect and reason of the Right. There are many political conservatives who have fallen for the green crusade, but the overwhelming majority of them are those conservatives of a more secular bent. Look at northeastern Republicans or European right-of-center parties. David Cameron’s Tory party is a perfect example.

    It is my assertion that religious belief and the kind of all-encompassing belief in environmental crisis we see today satisfy the same parts of the human brain, and likely come from the same parts of the brain, as well. The behaviors and apparent feelings of the two groups–even though they are loathe to be associated with each other–are in fact strikingly similar in an astonishing number of ways.

  7. Oversimplified. Good and intriguing post though.

  8. There might be global warming or cooling but the important issue is whether we, as a human race, can do anything about it.

    There are a host of porkies and not very much truth barraging us everyday so its difficult to know what to believe.

    I think I have simplified the issue in an entertaining way on my blog which includes discussion on the CO2 issue.

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

    Please feel welcome to visit and leave a comment.

    Cheers

    Roger

    PS In my country a porky is not a fat person but refers to a statement or assertion of gross falsehood or extreme exaggeration.

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