“The chief aim of order is to give room for good things to run wild.” G.K. Chesterton
It is common today to hear atheists, agnostics, scientists, experts, religious, including Christians, speak of nature, not as creation, but as a creator, owed much fear and awe. Nature is simultaneously “Mother Earth” or “Gaia” (always with a capital G), and a vicious deity bent on revenge for the suffering imposed by heretical humans (i.e. “Angry” planet). Nature not only created creatures and the entire universe (or multi-verse), but created itself. Nature’s power is limitless and from eternity, so it seems.
Rich, highly educated prophets wearing white coats blame blue-collar, ignorant white men for the coming climate catastrophe. The problem as they see it comes down to breathing and breeding. Too much CO2 from fossil-fuel energy (and only fossil fuel, which was predicted by these same people to run out in the 70s) and overpopulation will combine to form a literal oxygen-sucking monster, perhaps in the shape of a hockey stick, that will slap down our entire humanity to a place so warm, some might even call it hell. Thankfully, they are full of solutions: kill unborn children (“reproduction” rights), kill the elderly (“medical assistance” in dying), castrate the young (hormone “therapies”), and castrate the economy (“own nothing”and be happy).
This elite climate clergy zealously preaches the need to save the planet, to save humanity, and the good news… is that they are the saviours! They will carry the heavy burden for us (dare we say carry the cross) of flying around the world to hold their synods on the most exotic places, driven in air-conditioned SUVs, dining on the finest meat and vegetables, themselves also flown in, to help prepare us for what is surely the second coming of Mater Terra.
As with any deity, we also need to appease it with sacrifices and a special day of obligation for worship. The latter shall always be on April 22 (a date close enough to her main rival), and the former involves tweets, attending celebrity concerts, and using batteries…. lots and lots of reliable, totally renewable batteries, to power millions of phones, bikes, cars, homes, and heck, why not planes too. Extracting earth metals and producing lithium is completely safe, sustainable and responsible to the environment, we are told. Lastly, don’t forget about money. Mother Earth and her prophets really appreciate when you donate money, work for free, and get others to donate money and work for free. In return, the prophets promise to ask mother earth not to flood our coastal cities (including the prophets’ own massive beach houses) and to never, ever change the temperature on us ever again. But you need to act now – we are running out of time!
Brothers, if this mother earth fan club sounds duplicitous, self-serving, and insane, it’s because it is. We could point out all the evidence regarding CO2 levels being lowest in the past 600 million years as reported by Dr Tim Ball, that there are more polar bears now than in 1960 (Austin Ruse), or that in what is known as the Medieval Warm Period, which ranged from 950AD to 1250, temperatures were higher than they are today. Working with the assumption that there were no gas-guzzling vehicles or stoves, no jet planes, and a lot less people during that time, questions begin to arise: can climate change be climate made? Is it possible that humans can’t control the weather? Will taxes and high energy costs stop mother earth from “raging”? Is it natural for nature to change?
We could point out the many economic benefits associated with cheap energy, such as reduced poverty, improved quality of life and even length of life as seen in the most developed, energy consuming societies. We could talk about natural gas and how it produces 60% less emissions than coal (mainly used in China). This however, would be missing the point. For every stat, study and graph shown, a counter stat, study and graph will be produced, creating that circular argument we so often see now, and while we chase our own tail arguing stats, studies and what is and isn’t misinformation, our freedoms are slowly, and sometimes not so slowly, eroded.
In 1971, world-renowned ecologist Paul Ehrlich told us that “by the year 2000, the UK will simply be a group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people.” In 1986, John Holdren, who later became science advisor to Barrack Obama, said “it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.” Both statements were fully backed by science, naturally. The only problem is that they were wrong; they were wrong 50 years ago, wrong 35 years ago, and are wrong today. Worrying about the weather when today making it out of the womb alive is a minor miracle, is like worrying about which plates to use without having food.
How do we stop this insanity? We can start by not committing idolatry, namely the worshipping of nature. As Chesterton reminded us, “Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate.” Nature is not our mother. She is part of creation, as we are creatures, but just like paint and a painting lead us to deduce a painter, creation and creatures lead us to deduce a Creator. In article 32 of the Catechism, the Church states that through “the world’s order and beauty, one can come to a knowledge of God as the origin and the end of the universe.”
The natural world is beautiful, but it has no feelings. If anything, nature is actually quite deadly (think of getting lost in a jungle, or desert, or glacier, or swamp, or frozen tundra, and so on). Come to think of it, some of our fellow creatures, including polar bears, are not so friendly either. They too have no human feelings. They are loyal to food sources and follow their instinct. Man is called to be the tiller of the garden, to name these creatures so as to dignify them, to use but not abuse the great gifts God the Creator has given us. Lest we be unsure of whether we truly have this great responsibility, God reveals it to us. In fact, it’s the first commandment He gave us; “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” Gen 1:28 Humans alone were made in the image of God. A sculpture is not the sculptor, but is infinitely more admired, perhaps even loved, than any amount of basic clay and water. Humans are not God, but each human is worth more to Him than all the dust in the world.
Nature is full of laws and order, which enable it to flourish and grow. When we learn these laws, we can know that it is possible for grapes to be grown in California, that Eucalyptus trees can flourish outside Australia, that rice can be grown not just around the Nile, and so on. When one sees an orchard, it’s not a display of white supremacy, it’s a field of apple trees. When one walks on a man-made path along the lake, it’s not a march in support of capitalist oppression, it’s just a walk. And finally, when one strolls through a beautiful park with well kept gardens, sports fields, and light posts in the night, we are not destroying the planet, we are simply being human.
We have to beware of people who speak of love for humanity but don’t know their own neighbours’ names, people who want to change the world with a hashtag but won’t deliver a bag, or that preach about saving the earth when they can’t protect their own garden. Dickens called it “telescopic philanthropy” – seeing through the wrong side of the lens so that things nearby seem far, and far things seem close.
Dr Peter Kreeft in his speech on “How to lose the culture war”, says the first thing to do is “to convince people to treat religion as a form of politics, and their politics as a religion. They have to absolutize politics because they relativize religion.” In this way, religion is only used as a means for achieving political ends. I mention this because even inside the Church, we see movements politicizing the faith, distracting her from her mission to worship God, evangelize and help the poor. The Church doesn’t need pachamama statues, and neither do our forests.
Nature is a part of the natural order. Humans have a supernatural order to take care of it, to subdue it. Getting this wrong, may lead to what St Paul told the Romans 2000 years ago; “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped the creature rather than the Creator…”. Rom 1: 22-32.
Getting it right, is the difference between the garden of Eden and the garden of Gethsemane.
St Joseph: Pray for us
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