Albert Einstein once said, "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."
Unfortunately, the word lame has undergone a slight metamorphosis since his day. He meant the word to imply crippled, not boring or "unfun" as it is often taken today. Even the Catholic church has begun accepting mass quantities of science into their coffers, up to and including the Big Bang Theory. If only they could get over their sexual repression, especially the use of birth control, I'd probably give them more respect. Sexual repression is an issue I have with most Christianesque churches. For whatever reason they are trying to treat sex as a mental and spiritual exercise when it is a biological one, but the issue of sex is not what I am to discuss today.
I have been thinking about the concept of Faith itself. It is a curious thing. By definition, matters of faith require no proof. I find it to be the foundation of hope and optimism, so without it, I feel people would lack enthusiasm, curiosity, and desire. A person with no faith in anything is truly a mere shell of a person.
I find it unfortunate that modern science has chosen to attack back at religion as religion has attacked it in the past. Worse yet, religous people choose to cut off their nose to spite their face, by denying science. We've all read about the religions/cults that believe in the healing power of prayer. Whereas, I will be the first one in line to say that people should rely less on medicines and focus more on their health, there is no amount of prayer that will help most cancer patients. We've also all read about the miraculous remissions that sick people can fall into overnight. Miracles or not, such things do not happen to everyone. Not even enough to warrant blind faith that the Lord will cure them. I see no sensible thought process that prevents a person from praying in addition to chemotherapy and/or operating.
Of course, in such an extreme cases, I am sure those that will be reading this blog agree with me. Yet, it points out the extremity of faith. The lack of a need for proof and it doesn't have to involve a strict religious setting. Of course, this example uses such a vehicle, but there are examples where faith misleads a person, and it has little if anything to do with organized religion.
Michael Crichton, yes, of Jurassic Park fame, spoke of such an example. He has become quite the philosopher of late and in particular, he speaks of environmentalism. Somewhat unfortunately, he does so from an anthropologists point of view and has used the anthropological definitions of what constitutes a religion. By this account, he decrees environmentalism to be a religion. I am not going to debate the merits of this point of view, since, as I have spoken in previous posts, one can make a definition as they see fit and mold it to their own ends. I will employ Potter Stewart's archetype for a definition in that I cannot fully define what a religion is to consist of, but I know it when I see it, and I am a long way off from counting environmentalism as a religion. More abstractly, I have no doubt that you can define an apparent religion from anything that involves faith.
I digress; How does one observe issues of faith in environmentalism? The simple truth is that most environmentalist "facts" are nothing more than observations that make sense to the average person. Let's start at the top: Global warming. There really is only one fact that we know about global warming and that is the observation that the earth is warming up. Without wasting the time to look up the precise numbers, I believe the average rate of increase is in the neighborhood of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century. I could be wrong. Feel free to correct me, but whatever the proper figure, it is not anything anyone would notice in their lifetime.
Of course, since my childhood, third grade in fact, I have endured theories in the news and the classroom about greenhouse gases and other sorts of speculations. Quite simply, they are all theories that try to explain why the earth is warming up. Like many boys, I had a curiosity in dinosaurs and read about ice ages and other natural disasters that eventually wiped them out. As I got older, I managed to correlate the two phenomena and form an opinion of my own. In particular, we know the earth has undergone four ice ages in the last million years. The last one ended about 10,000 years ago. To my thinking, the ending of an ice age must be defined by a warming trend. In short, we are obviously still in the warming trend of the last ice age.
Thus, any discussion or theory about global warming must take this into account, but they do not. People concerned about the environment, and for the record I don't blame them for I am concerned myself, have sought modern causes for something that started quite naturally 10,000 years ago.
Quite frankly, there is little evidence of man's impact on the environment because it does not suit those with the proper resources to look for it. There is no funding from big business because they would be wasting resources to shoot themselves in the foot. There is little funding from governmental resources because our government is run by big business. Worse yet, people still have the power to influence don't want to pay for it in the form of taxes, so they let the science pass them by in hopes that they won't have to deal with the environmental fallout in their lifetimes. Of course, that's not faith. That's sticking ones head in the sand.
Where does the faith come in? Environmentalists accept certain things on faith. They accept without proof, the greenhouse gas nonsense. Not so much because it makes sense, but because they need to believe that this our fault. Obviously, they feel the need to protect the environment and are willing to accept unproven statements to back their belief that we need to change our ways. Again, I couldn't agree more. I am not debating the merits of their position, merely, what causes them to accept that position. They attempt to grasp at science to prove their claims about the degradation of the environment, but in reality, science doesn't have their back.
I could go on, but I am kind of running long. It is perhaps best that I simply link the speech Michael Crichton gave in regards to environmentalism as a religion. He makes the point far more eloquently that I could. I highly recommend it.