I literally just had this debate with a right-wing creationist a couple of days ago. I posed the question to them, “What if climate change is God’s way of telling us that we’re destroying what was given to us and we need to take better care of our planet?”
Now whether you’re a Christian or not is irrelevant for this article. Climate change is real whether you’re the most devout atheist or holiest of holy Christians.
But the reality for those of us who do believe in climate change is that there are millions of people who will never believe in it or want to do anything about it, because to them if it’s real, it’s God’s doing. Therefore no matter what humans do, it won’t matter anyway.
That’s why I like posing questions like I did to the right-wing creationist I encountered. I realize I’m not going to change their view on God’s hand in climate change (whether I agree with it or not) so the best way to hope to change their mind is to appeal to their religious beliefs.
Now I know, many people will simply say, “Who cares, they’re stupid to believe in God anyway. Why should I have to pander to their idiocy?”
Well, because if you don’t, these tens of millions of people are going to continue to stand in the way of the rest of us doing what we can to try to save our planet. So you can complain about their ignorance all you want (and rightfully so) or you can try a different approach to hopefully sway their opinion.
Which brings me to comments recently made by Pope Francis where he basically said the exact same thing I was trying to convey to the very religious individual I encountered.
“Safeguard Creation,” Pope Francis said. “Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”
“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude,” Francis said.
“But when we exploit Creation we destroy the sign of God’s love for us, in destroying Creation we are saying to God: ‘I don’t like it! This is not good!’ ‘So what do you like?’ ‘I like myself!’ – Here, this is sin! Do you see?”
And that’s the leader of the Catholic Church, the most powerful Christian on the planet, essentially saying that he believes humans are causing climate change and destroying our planet.
Again, whether or not you believe in God doesn’t really matter in this instance because the reality is that a lot of people do. And in this country alone we have tens of millions of people who don’t believe in climate change simply because they believe God controls the weather. And while I know that’s maddening, simply dismissing the opinion of these people doesn’t change what they believe and the fact that their beliefs are impacting the rest of us.
Which is why I find these comments by Pope Francis remarkable. Not only do they coincide with an argument I’ve used (with some success) toward those who deny climate change, but it’s the most powerful Christian on the planet saying it’s time to smarten up on this issue. Hopefully these people are actually listening.