Tuesday, November 09, 2010

God promises us that climate change won't happen: Rep. John Shimkus on March 25, 2009

I have been recently alerted to the above video footage of Rep. John Shimkus (Republican - Illinois). He appears to disagree that climate change is damaging the planet on the grounds that his reading of two brief passages in the Bible claim that God alone will determine when the world will end.

This leads Shimkus -- who explicitly states that he believes the Bible is the word of God and infallible -- to argue that there will be no flood to worry about due to climate change because the world ends when God decides and not when climate change dictates.

There are several particular problems with this claim:

1. The idea that climate change is happening is not incompatible with the idea that only God will determine when the world will end. If the oceans rise to new heights because of melting ice caps, then this will lead to major problems for our cities but it is not the case that the world will somehow "end". In fact, the world will continue albeit perhaps without humans.

2. Rep. Shimkus is explicit in arguing for a policy that is -- from the statement given in this video -- embedded within a particular religious belief. As such his views prioritize one religion over others in claiming as infallible his faith for purposes of guiding US policy on the environment. This may possibly raise some constitutional issues regarding the non-Establishment Clause in that the Government ought not give priority to any one religious faith over others.

3. There is no thought given to the idea that perhaps "the trumpet will sound" and the Second Coming arrive when climate change has scarred the planet. Does Rep. Shimkus know the mind of God? This would be to claim he can read God's mind. Such a thought may be blasphemous if you believed God was a perfect being: we can then only guess His plans as best we can, but we cannnot have certainty because we lack His perfection.

4. Is it any surprise to find an aide sitting directly behind him holding back her laughter?

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