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Erratum Corrected; Climate Change 
10th-Dec-2010 12:03 pm
At Vicki's
After spending an embarrassing amount of time yesterday trying to create a link the hard way (it absolutely did not work; even with every quote mark and slash entered correctly, the URL simply disappeared instead of turning into a link), I read the directions all the way to the bottom and found out how to do it the easy way. So yesterday's post is fixed, and here's the link for Welcome to the Greenhouse, the soon-to-be-published anthology of stories about climate change, edited by Gordon Van Gelder: http://www.orbooks.com/our-books/greenhouse.

Why do so many people still think climate change is a hoax? Are you puzzled when the evidence provided by the scientific community is brushed aside by people completely unqualified to question it, but who take on faith the dismissals of other people equally unqualified to to pass judgment on it? Are you mystified as to why they won't consider for one instant the evidence provided by science, even when presented in a user-friendly format, like Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth?

I'm not. I was raised by Christian fundamentalists, Southern Baptist parents from Louisville who joined a Conservative Baptist church when they moved to Cincinnati. My sister is still a fundamentalist and a Baptist, and we have learned not to go anywhere near subjects like evolution, global warming, or why I left the Baptists after my freshman year of college (she thinks it was adolescent rebellion).

So I am able to explain what's going on with people like that, and the explanation is simple: they care about feelings, not facts. They're not one bit interested in evidence, they're interested in how it feels to be a "Christian" (in the special fundamentalist sense of the word). It feels great. It really does; I remember it well. The notion that somebody would give up feeling like that just because of a bunch of facts seems crazy to them.

I remember trying to explain to my mother why I'd had to leave the church. She listened to me talk about Genesis and Darwin with a little smile on her face, then said, "I can't understand why anyone would rather believe they came from apes than that God created them." I can feel my jaw dropping to this day. Rather believe??? That what I would rather believe didn't come into the question just didn't compute for her, and that was true from the day we had this conversation in 1961 till the day she died in 1989. My sister is exactly the same.

Extrapolating from them, and from friends from back then who never left the fold, and the citizens I'm surrounded by here in rural Kentucky, I'm pretty sure that no amount of factual evidence will ever carry any weight with Bible-believing Christians. They'll see Manhattan sloshing in the Atlantic and still declare that burning fossil fuels had nothing to do with it.
10th-Dec-2010 06:04 pm (UTC)
I think many of the people who think climate change is a hoax (or at least go on TV or stand on the House floor and claim it is) don't honestly believe it... but rather are so invested in selling the maintenance of the status quo that got things to this point that they can't backtrack. It's like a political poker game where they've bet so much, that even though they're bluffing, they can't afford to fold now. Stupid, but there it is.

While I don't find myself agreeing with Bill O'Reilly too much, I do appreciate that he disassociated himself from the lockstep and said, "You know, I'm a simple guy, and the way I see it, a cleaner world is just better. That simple."
10th-Dec-2010 07:03 pm (UTC)
You're very likely right. The ones who feel they've painted themselves into a corner would be a different population group than the Fundies with minds closed tight, who aren't dishonest--for what that's worth--but can't be affected by debate. Then I guess there are the politicos who have no real position on the issue, but say what they think their constituents want to hear to get their votes. An odd bunch of bedfellows!

Some of these folks are dunderheads, but what makes me craziest about people like my sister is that they're not dumb. They CAN think. They'd just rather bliss out on feeling, and see no reason why they shouldn't. Whenever it's a choice between feeling and thinking, feeling is going to win hands down. Might as well be brain dead.
15th-Dec-2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
The thing that amazes me about this approach: it's so post-modern, AND from the very people who decry post-modernism in pretty much every way! It's very post-modern to think that there are no FACTS, that it's all interpretation.

Maybe the post-modernists learned this from true believers? In any case, it really baffles me (but then, I have a degree in chem).
16th-Dec-2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
That's an interesting thing you point out. Speaking of strange bedfellows. But I think the psychology is pretty different. With the Fundies there is NO interpretation; the Bible is the literal, inspired Word of God, so every word means exactly what it says. Nonsense by any other measure is taken on faith to BE factual. So they don't care about scientific, objective facts, because they already know the facts: God created everything, just like it says in Genesis: Noah built an ark and put two of everything on board, the Red Sea parted for Moses and the Children of Israel walked over on dry land, the sun stood still for Joshua at Jericho. And so on. Clarence Darrow asked William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes trial: "“Mr. Bryan, do you believe that Joshua made the sun stand still?” Bryan replied, “Mr. Darrow, I do!” For Bryan et al. the Bible is STILL a source book full of Facts that trump anything science has to offer. They won't look at anything about how the Bible was compiled, either--it just IS, the only information anybody needs. Information about biblical history has been available to scholars for 150 years, and many ministers (not Baptist ones) learn it in divinity school, but they don't tell their congregations: too upsetting.

Yeah, it makes me crazy.
27th-Dec-2010 03:31 pm (UTC) - Please reference this info from 150 years ago.
"Information about biblical history has been available to scholars for 150 years, and many ministers (not Baptist ones) learn it in divinity school, but they don't tell their congregations: too upsetting."

I will not get upset. I promise. This interests me. Was sprinkled a Methodist as an infant but, now consider myself to be spiritual. Have a fundagelical cousin that the family tolerates so, I guess, I see where you are at with your relatives.

27th-Dec-2010 04:40 pm (UTC) - Re: Please reference this info from 150 years ago.
The most useful source I've found for info of this kind is The Five Gospels: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus, New Translation and Commentary by Robert W. Funk, Roy W. Hoover, and The Jesus Seminar. There's a fascinating introduction in which the whole story of the search for the historical Jesus is summarized (they say 200 years, not 150). Toward the end the authors state, "The level of public knowledge of the Bible borders on the illiterate. [...] The public is poorly informed of the assured results of critical scholarship, although these results are commonly taught in colleges, universities, and seminaries." And further, "Critical scholarship is regularly under attack by conservative Christian groups. At least one Fellow of the Jesus Seminar lost his academic post as a result of his membership in the group. Others have been forced to withdraw as a consequence of institutional pressure...and we have been intimidated by promotion and tenure committees...." If the scholars get fired, what will "illiterate" congregations do to pastors? Obviously, ministers who learn this stuff in seminary don't dare tell their flocks--I couldn't find the reference I remember by skimming, but it's in there, and the quoted bits suggest I should have said "risky" instead of "upsetting." If you get hold of a copy of the book and read the whole Introduction you'll see what I mean. Scopes Trial, here we come!
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