Friday, December 14, 2007

Look Who's Talking

Via Fred Singer's Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) comes news that the Pope has criticized greens for their gloom and doom senarios. According to the linked article at the Daily Mail:
The 80-year-old Pope said the world needed to care for the environment but not to the point where the welfare of animals and plants was given a greater priority than that of mankind.
Despite the fact that this sounds quite rational and the Pope is right about placing man above plants and animals, I think there is an underlying motive.

The Pope, leader of one of the world's largest religions, is acutely aware that his religion has some serious competition in environmentalism. In the spirit of "Thou shalt not worship false gods before me" or something like that, he seems to be saying all the attention and donations going to NGOs should go to the Church and the alms basket. But I had to chuckle when the article said:.
The German-born Pontiff said that while some concerns may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement.
Look who's talking about dogma!

The church and the NGOs both call for man's sacrifice. But the Holy See sees exactly what is going on. He sees enviromentalism as the new God and "carbon footprint" as the new original sin. It's competition for the sacrificial offerings pure and simple. The government, public and the press are mostly clueless on this. Seems like the only people who truly understand what's going on are the Greens, Objectivists, some skeptics, and the Papacy.

5 comments:

Joseph Kellard said...

Mike,

Good observation about how the Pope sees environmentalism as a competitive threat to his own dogma.

Doesn't the Bible say something about man having dominion over the earth and all things on it?

Joseph Kellard

Mike N said...

Joe:
Thanks.
You're right about that passage in the bible. But it seems to me the Pope is appealing to the self interest of the masses saying in effect: "You don't have to sacrifice to the birds and the bees, just to God."

Burgess Laughlin said...

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man in his own image ... and God said to them '... fill the earth and subdue it....'"

- Genesis, the First Book of Moses, Old Testament, Chapter 1, Verses 26-28.

Burgess Laughlin said...

Is Pope Benedict speaking against Environmentalism for philosophical reasons (in the Great Chain of Being, man is halfway up the chain, with God at the top and animals at the bottom) or for psychological reasons (rationalizing his animosity towards competitors)?

That Pope Benedict has fundamental principles of his official worldview available to him as a justification of his position is clear. See the story of Genesis.

See also, for a historian's discussion of the idea of the Great Chain of Being, an idea which permeates ancient pagan as well as medieval and modern Christianity: Arthur Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea, espec. Chs. I-III.

To prove that the Pope is here acting primarily or even secondarily from fear of competition requires particular proof based on the nature of his character in general and the nature of his actions in this case in particular.

Of course, another possibility to be explored is that the Pope -- as often happens in history, I suspect -- might be acting from philosophical and psychological motivations. When they align, they are powerful motivators.

Mike N said...

Burgess:
Thanks for the bible quote. I knew it was in Genesis. I just didn't know where.

No I can't prove the Pope is acting primarily in a competitive manner. But I think the circumstantial evidence is compelling especially if one combines the religious and psychological motivations as you suggest. Religiously, the Pope has no choice in the matter. He is wedded to the bible and must stand before the world and utter blatent contradictions and double standards. He is forced to refuse to see that they are double standards. He is just doing God's work in his mind. Psychologically though, as the leader of the religion, he cannot let this challenge go unanswered. I can't get into the Pope's mind but I think I can estimate what he is seeing.

The environmental movement is a new religion. It has a God, "The Environment". It has an original sin, Carbon or any human "Footprint". It has a devil, "Capitalism". It even has "indulgences", carbon credits, by which sinners can earn forgiveness for their sins--even before the're committed! It has "rituals" sinners can perform to make them holy again like recycling or sacrificing incandescent light bulbs in favor of murcury-loaded flourescent ones. Acid rain, population bomb, global cooling, and now golbal warming, these are all various "crusades".

This is all familiar territory for the Pope. He knows it well, far better than the greenies do. Both he and the greens hate rational self-interest. But the Pontif knows how to use it to his advantage when needed. That's why he knew exactly what words to use in his speech. When he pointed out that man should not be sacrificed to lesser critters he was making a direct appeal to the rational self-interest of his billion + flock saying in effect, "You don't have to give up your SUVs, air conditioners and other modern comforts to the earth that God wants you to subdue". This of course is designed to hit the greens where it hurts the most--stopping or reducing the flow of sacrificial offerings to the green god and diverting them back to the one true god. The Pope knows exactly what he is doing. The greens are amatures by comparison.

As I look at all the organized religions, I see what I call the one over-riding principle: Do whatever it takes to insure the survival of the religion, the faith, all other considerations ( double standards and contradictions for example) are secondary.

So thanks Burgess, for clueing me in on the power of psychological plus philisophical motives. The Pope is acting on both.