Who to Believe: Ancient Religious Texts or Today’s Scientists?

A new book by the Republican senator from Oklahoma James Inhofe is entitled “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.” Its basic premise is a common one heard today from some of the more extreme climate change deniers and skeptics: that God and the Bible tell us we’re safe and sound doing business-as-usual without fear of harming the planet or its climate. A frequently asked question is: how can we as a species affect the climate of an entire planet? (Never mind that more than 7 billion people are spewing over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide—a know greenhouse gas—into the atmosphere every year. As Inhofe points out by quoting his not-so-scientific source Genesis 8:22, “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” All the proof we need that God will look after us, no matter what we do to the planet.

This kind of thinking is always scary to someone like me. And when I say “someone like me,” I mean someone who believes in science and facts. It’s tough to take. I had a religious upbringing and I understand why many who are raised that way remain devout to the principles that religion teaches. (Believing in the principles is generally more reasonable, however, than believing in the facts from these ancient texts, I would argue.) But it’s difficult when people hold so tightly to small snippets of a book written thousands of years ago by people who had no understanding of science, and continue to ignore the contradictory facts we’ve learned since those words were written. The Bible has been proven wrong many times already: the sun doesn’t orbit the Earth, our planet has existed for almost 5 billion years not 5 thousand, and our species exists thanks to evolution, not a magical being that snapped his fingers and said “abra cadabra.”

One huge problem with taking such small quotes from the BIble and holding onto them literally is that it ignores its many other quotes that are clearly misplaced in today’s society. If we’re going to accept Genesis 8:22 as proof that God will look after the climate for us, then what about selling our daughters into slavery (Exodus 21:7), owning slaves of our own as long as they come from neighbouring countries (Leviticus 25:44), or the fact that we’re supposed to put people to death who work on the Sabbath Day (Exodus 35:2)? People like James Inhofe who hold onto the small portions of the BIble that serve their personal agendas have to address the larger portions that are so much more clearly outdated as well.

I  have a difficult time understanding people like James Inhofe, or Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum who is equally as trusting in these ancient stories instead of what the brightest scientists have been telling us about the laws of nature. They claim that the liberal left—those who argue that we have to do what we can to fight against climate change—have their own hidden agenda and are misleading everyone. It seems especially hypocritical when Inhofe received over 1.3 million dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. Seems like a perfect example of symbiosis: one group gets political support to make billions of dollars, and the other gets money to use toward their political agendas. Truly, neither group has to believe in any part of the Bible to achieve what they want, but if it’s a convenient means to an end, then hey, why not?.

For those who believe in religion and the Bible, I would like to point out that even if God created the heavens and the earth, that doesn’t mean the men who tried to document the story thousands of years ago got it all correct. And belief in a God doesn’t mean that God will look after us if we’re stupid and foolish. The best set of rules a God could come up with are the laws of science. If we ignore them, I truly believe that any Supreme Being watching from above will let us destroy ourselves rather than intervene. He’s proven too many times in the past that intervention isn’t His style when it comes to human nature. It’s up to us and no one else.