Religion News Blog is not a blog I take a lot of notice of, as it is usually full of negative reports about the seemier side of religion, and I am a follower of Jesus who hates ‘religion’ with a passion. However, ocassionally it has a gem.
This article, The green fervour: Is environmentalism the new religion? is a good example. Joseph Brean, of The National Post, Canada, reviews The Future of Everything: The Science of Prediction by Vancouver-based author and mathematician David Orrell. In his book Orrell sets out to explain why the mathematical models scientists use to predict the weather, the climate and the economy are not getting any better, just more refined in their uncertainty. What he discovered, in trying to sketch the first principles of prophecy, was the religious nature of modern environmentalism.
Of course, to anyone who has been watching this movement, and has had to relate to many of its adherents, this comes as no surprise, steeped as it is in the worship of Gaia, in paganism, in the Goddess cult, ‘alternative’ lifestyle, natural ‘therapies’ and New Age philosophy, etc.
One of my concerns about religions is how almost invariably the object of worship is considered so overwhelmingly important that the place of people is relegated to a distant second. In fact, as can be seen in much of the environmental religion, when humanity gets considered it’s either as a scapegoat for all the destruction, or as a political bargaining chip in the achievement of ‘more important’ goals – the saving of the planet. But, the saving of the planet for what? or who? The same might be said of the right-wing evangelical branch of the ‘scientific’ religion, Darwinism.
This is not to say that fearing for the future of the planet is irrational in the way supernatural belief arguably is, just that — in its myths of the Fall and the Apocalypse, its saints and heretics, its iconography and tithing, its reliance on prophecy, even its schisms — the green movement now exhibits the same psychology of compliance as religion.
Dr. Orrell is no climate-change denier. He calls himself green. But he understands the unjustified faith that arises from the psychological need to make predictions.
He then looks at how the green movement appears to emulate an Old Testament prophet, or the oracles of ancient Greece, attempting to predict so many things, such as the change in the weather, the loss of species, to the ultimate demise of the planet. It’s not the concern he is calling into question, but the ‘prophecying’.
Brean quotes John Kay of the Financial Times, writing about future climate chaos:
Christians look to the Second Coming, Marxists look to the collapse of capitalism, with the same mixture of fear and longing … The discovery of global warming filled a gap in the canon … [and] provides justification for the link between the sins of our past and the catastrophe of our future.
Here is an excerpt, from Kay’s website of what he said:
Environmental evangelists are [therefore] not interested in pragmatic solutions to climate change or technological fixes for it. They are even less interested in evidence that if we were really serious about reducing carbon emissions we could do so by large amounts without significantly affecting our economies or our lives. Windmills on roofs and cycling to work are insignificant in practical consequence, but that is to miss their point. Every ideology needs rituals of observance, which demonstrate the commitment of adherents…Business should treat the environmental movement as it treats other forms of religious belief.
Business leaders do not themselves have to believe its doctrines. Indeed we should be wary if they do: business linked to faiths and ideologies is a sinister and unaccountable power.
As you can imagine, self-described tree huggers were not pleased, but I’ll let Brean have the (second) last word:
All of this might be fine if religions had a history of rational scientific inquiry and peaceful, tolerant implementation of their beliefs. As it is, however, many religions, environmentalism included, continue to struggle with the curse of literalism, and the resultant extremism.
My last thought: let’s not forget to include scientism in the above! Where scientism was the alternative religion of modernity, in postmodernity it has been supplanted by environmentalism. The fascination comes from watching science become more and more esoteric as its high priests fight to retain their high gnostic status.