Two broadcasts on NPR, plus recent weather events, have left me angry. To put my cards on the table, I was trained as a social scientist (meaning I know something of the scientific process not weather events and global warming theory ... and I admit that) and I'm trained as a Christian minister (meaning in this case, I know a great deal of theology and know how much more there is to know of what has been written by brilliant people over thousands of years). Alright, enough procrastinating, here goes.
On Science Friday recently, climate scientists were discussing climate change and the theory that as the globe warms (which most scientists agree is happening) storms of all sorts will become more ferocious. As the program moved toward its conclusion, the host (a very level headed guy from my experience) tried to get these scientists to take a stand on whether the recent super typhoon Haiyan was a product of global warming. Suddenly all the certainty fled the room and much hemming and hawing ensured. The host became quite frustrated, unable to obtain either a yes or no answer with or without caveats, eventually asked, well, how long will it be before you can provide such an answer? Will it be 50 years?! There was more back and forth with no answer.
On the other hand, a "bold" scientist on another show proudly proclaimed that morality was a mere product of the evolved monkey mind and, ipso facto, there is no God. Atheists win, hooray.
This kind of nonsense makes my blood boil. Here's why. On the one hand, scientists have the opportunity to take a stand on an issue that could save the lives of untold millions of people in years to come, mostly poor people living in marginal environments (who admittedly don't provide research funding). On the other, some of their ilk, without any outcry from the rest of science, will proclaim there is no God, something they can't possibly provide measurable data upon as God, being God, is outside the realm of science (never mind all the theology behind this statement, there isn't time right now and I have a rant to finish). So, on an issue where science has reams of data to review and analyze, and where lives are on the line, they refuse to make a stand. On a subject that is not within their means to study in any constructive way, some scientists are willing to make grand proclamations about a subject they cannot measure and often do not know.
So, scientists, please, take some responsibility in an area where you can do good. I know it is difficult. I know it is risky. I know science changes slowly, sometimes only when some well known advocate for an older position actually dies (so does religion if it makes you feel any better), but really, lives are at stake. Raise an alarm. If in the long run it is proven you are not entirely correct (ooo, that would be a first, huh?!), you will have stood up for human life, for the poor, for a cleaner planet better cared for, for a reduction of toxins in the air, land, and sea. You might alleviate the deadly smog in China produced by coal smoke. All these are good things, so says my Christian faith and science. Be a little more like the best among the religious faithful some in your ranks mock. My denomination stands on the side of justice for human beings, for human dignity, for helping the poor, the widow, the outcast, the prisoner, the alien among us, and for the stewardship of this planet that we see as a gift from God.
Less time spent mocking faith, for which you have no reliable data on so many aspects, and far more time promoting a better life on this planet through better stewardship. Stand for the issue where human temporal lives are on the line ... and leave the spiritual life to the experts in that realm. We'll all be better off that way. Thanks!
So ends my half hour and my rant.