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Religious Tolerance logo

An essay donated by Alton C. Thompson

Climate Change:
A Possible Spiritual Solution?

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Climate Change 1

The Discrepancy began to develop during the Agricultural/Neolithic Revolution -- between:

  • (a) the way of life (i.e., foraging) for which we had become "designed" prior to the Neolithic, and

  • (b) the ways of life that developed subsequently,

has led to societal, intellectual, religious, ideological, etc., developments -- which have interacted one with another. Those various developments have "given" us an extremely dangerous world at present! 2

Not only is there now a constant threat of the annihilation of our species via the unleashing of thermo-nuclear devices, but there is the near-term threat of annihilation via global warming.  For example, climate scientist John B. Davies began a 2013 article with these ominous words:  

"The world is probably at the start of a runaway Greenhouse Event 3 which will end most human life on Earth before the year 2040."

The former threat is of an "either/or" nature:  It will either occur, or not occur.  My belief is that the latter possibility will occur if:

  1. Humans continue those activities (e.g., the burning of fossil fuels) at the level that are causing the current warming.

  2. Our leaders continue to do nothing significant to halt that warming. 

A few months ago, noted climate scientist James Hansen wrote:  

"The world is not effectively addressing the climate matter, nor does it have any plans to do so, regardless of how much government bureaucrats clap each other on the back."

Currently, we are saddled with "leaders" who are deniers" of the occurrence of global warming and who have, therefore, done nothing to address the problem. It appears that if salvation from disaster is to be achieved, it is citizens who will need to "lead the way."

One needs to admit that it may now be too late to achieve our salvation.  As Davies (see above) has suggested, runaway climate change may now be occurring -- which means that climate change may now be "feeding on itself."  That is, some of the consequences of global warming (such as the melting of ice and snow) have now become causes of warming.  And if that’s the case, it may now be impossible to halt further warming.

We must not, however, succumb to feelings of hopelessness.  At the same time, though, we should face the fact that Christianity is partly responsible for our current condition (as far as global warming is concerned)!  By emphasizing an afterlife over life now on Earth, it has served to divert attention from the latter.

What I will suggest in this paper is that there may be a spiritual answer to the possibility, at least, that global warming will "do us in."  (Frankly, I have no solution to offer to the possibility that we will be destroyed by the unleashing of thermo-nuclear devices!)

My (possible) solution involves:

  1. The creation of a new institution -- the Life Enhancement Group (LEG).

  2. Participation in, and proliferation of, that institution.

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For a discussion of that institution, see my paper at Academia.

What I wish to do in the present paper is to emphasize the spiritual potentials of that institution.  And underlying my advocacy of the LEG are my assumptions that:

  1. What "the world needs now" . . . is more people with more empathy -- for feelings of empathy for others is what will motivate loving behavior directed at others.

  2. Among the benefits of LEG participation would likely be the development of feelings of empathy for others.

  3. That feeling of empathy is likely to "move out" of a given LEG circle, into the wider world.

In a sense, what I am advocating, with the LEG, is a new religion, one that is centered on discussion, and does not involve:

  1. Claiming to accept a certain set of beliefs.

  2. Participation in any rituals (except that the fact that discussions would be structured could be interpreted as ritualistic!).

  3. Sitting through sermons/homilies.

The modern world has been shaped especially by intellectual and technological developments -- and this is the major reason our species is in deep trouble at present. Had Christianity developed with the LEG as its central institution, would our situation today be different?

I, at least, would like to think so!

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Climate change image, created by "geralt." Downloaded from Pixabay. CC0 Creative Commons.
  2. The “Doomsday Clock” has been set at 2 minutes to midnight!
  3. Ian Johnston, "Climate change may be escalating so fast it could be 'game over', scientists warn," Independent, 2016-NOV-09, at: http://www.independent.co.uk/

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Essay donated by: Alton C. Thompson
Originally posted on: 2018-JAN-29

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