March 14, 2010

SLICE OF PIE: A Religion in a New Science Fiction World…

Blaise Pascal – the man for whom the International pressure unit is named; whose mathematical genius left its mark on the very secular worlds of science and math – also left a profound legacy of faith in Jesus Christ. Among the many things he said in his two works of Christian apologetics, he noted: “Faith indeed tells what the senses do not tell, but not the contrary of what they see. It is above them and not contrary to them.” (

I wonder what Pascal would have had to say about Anthropogenic Global Climate Change/Warming? Would he wonder if it was a religion masquerading as science, in which (no surprise) humans had taken the place of God as agents of planetary change? Or would he have something to say about the difficulty of making accurate observations on a system that both spans the planet and spans millennia?

AGC/W posits that human action alone has changed the Earth’s climate from what it was supposed to be to what it’s not supposed to be. Oddly, I’ve never read an exposition of what things would be like here and now if humanity had remained at a pre-Industrial level of technology or not invented Freon, power plants, automobiles or Republicans. This is the basic tenet of the AGC/W religion, so let’s explore it.

The Scientific Revolution preceded the Industrial Revolution and, if Wikipedia is to be believed, the first caused the second. Traced back to its roots, we find an individual whose writings single-handedly (apparently) blocked an earlier Revolution of humanity: Aristotle. AGC/W then must seek the reverse – a single individual who might spark the Climate Revolution and save humanity from climatological collapse and Republicans in Washington.

So perhaps I can pull a story out of this: a scientific establishment has blockaded and barricaded its climate change prediction. The scientific evidence is completely gathered and the end result is clear: doom for the world. The establishment has set into motion laws, programs and a fierce information machine designed to silence any other interpretation of its data. It has its experts whose credentials are unassailable and who speak with a clear voice around the world. Everything is in place and they have a plan to save the world – if they can just pay for it. (If this reminds anyone of a story, I know what you mean: in the April through May 1981 issues of ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION/SCIENCE FACT, Dean McLaughlin’s serialization of DAWN appeared. It is a lovingly rendered story of a man who warns of an impending “Nightfall” on a world of multiple suns with an evil religious hierarchy bent on silencing the hero to protect the status quo.) We’ll use a similar character – a scientist whose voice in the establishment is one of many. Then she posits a different interpretation of events – different that is, from that of the establishment. She believes that the changes ascribed to humanity are only part of a long cycle, in her case, one set up by the God she believes in and worships.

Cries of “blasphemy!” from the monolith. It seeks her out, kills her (the author will work out the details leading up to her tragic but inevitable end). Inexplicably, in doing so and despite its efforts to hoist humanity back up into its place of ultimate importance (which it took from the rubble of the Church it destroyed), the rest of the world takes note of what the other scientist said and picking up her words, examines them and finds them more in line with reality than those of the scientific monolith. Barricades tumble, the blockade is broken and sadder but wiser, humanity continues on, taking the root wisdom from the monolith and using it to modify cyclic nature…

There’s a story here, as there has always been. It’s just it’s not the story the scientific establishment has wanted written. The same establishment that wants to forget that American scientists didn’t want to accept the German Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift either. They fought it tooth and nail until, forty years later it entered the realm of scientific fact.

Another aspect of religion – and Christianity is NOT exempt from this accusation – is that some of its loudest proponents refuse to admit they might be wrong. I experienced this when a vocal proponent of AGC/W with whom I disagreed rabidly attacked my intelligence and beliefs, accusing me of being and doing things he couldn’t possibly know about. He didn’t notice that his conclusions about me were based on the exchange of a few letters and his reading of a few of my blog posts. It was clear to me that the conclusions he’d drawn about me were the same type of conclusions he’d drawn about AGC/W.

It’s this refusal to hear dissent, as well as a willingness to ignore different interpretations of data as well as the inability to place current events into a cycle humanity is incapable of seeing that makes AGC/W more religion than science.

And I am one who is considering writing a story that might reflect this situation. Maybe I’ll even name my main character Blaise. I might paraphrase what he said above like this: “Faith is above what the senses tell us, not contrary to them.” For me this means that Global Climate Change is not solely caused – or stopped – by humans; it’s part of a cycle which we can and should help to bring back into the course God set it on…livable for the majority of life on Earth.

1 comment:

GuyStewart said...

A friend of mine sent this through another venue -- it made me laugh...and gave me a bit of pause. Simply because GW is cyclical does NOT mean we can rape and pillage the Earth! Continued research and utilization of biomass, wind, solar and nuclear power as well as reducing, recycling and reusing is IMPERATIVE for stewardship of the Earth in our care. (The picture wouldn't transfer, but follow this link to it: