A FEW years ago I kept getting unsolicited emails from an
Evangelical Christian in the US (how do these people get one’s email address?) It warned me that in about 14 months, Jesus was returning and the world was coming to an end; it was to happen, I seem to remember, in a November. As the weeks and months went on, the emails sounded more urgent: recipients would be wise to make appropriate arrangements. The tone became quite passionate: we had a definite duty to watch for signs and ready ourselves. And then the November came, the exact day approaching. And . . . it passed much like any other day. Was there any kind of apology or excuse? Explanation? A misreading of the Bible, perhaps? There was not, and the man, digitally-speaking, disappeared, never to darken my computer screen again.
It’s much the same with extremist environmentalists or ecologists, and for the good reason that (as has often been pointed out) they much resemble orthodox Christians or Christian eschatologists. They have a concept of Original Sin (we, humanity, caused the damage to the earth, we are all guilty, as a race and individually; we are all born that way). They have a concept of Redemption: we might just be able to redeem ourselves (‘Save the Planet’) if we take drastic action right now, if we throw away our civilisation as the price. And of course they have a concept of the End Times, disaster that is coming upon us, very soon, in which the world will suffer destruction.
Do not doubt that such an End Times scenario exists. I well remember being told in the 1980s that in 20 years or so the seas would be boiling. In the 1990s, a very prominent personage told delegates at one of those international conferences, in South America (it might have been a COP something-or-other) that the earth had only 20 years before it was consumed by fire. Have any of these speakers, or the many supra-national organisations who make similar claims, come back to us and apologised for their catastrophe language? Have they ever admitted that maybe their figures weren’t quite right? They have not. They simply make new claims. Now we have the Met Office promising us an extremely hot summer this year. If it does not prove so, will they admit their mistake? Ecologism, at root, is a pseudo-religion or religion-substitute; it is the substitute religion of the materialist age (the religion-substitute nature of this extremist ecologism perhaps explains why many of its adherents will not, cannot, revise their thinking when presented with real, scientific, evidence to the contrary of their disaster scenarios – realbigotry, this).
Of course, these people and organisations have some very significant differences from Christians, or indeed, from members of most religions: they are materialists. I am aware that this word has at least two meanings. I mean, here, those people who believe that the universe, the world, plants, fish and animals (that includes humans) emerged out of nothing by chance, and that we all came to exist by un-caused, un-directed accidental processes. And that human lives in this world/society are the whole of their existence. Thus, the ecologists’ belief that the world in no way ‘belongs’ to humankind (it’s much more likely to ‘belong’ to insects or fish), but we, temporary beings all of us, have pillaged the earth, and raped Mother Nature (I find it curious how materialists so often refer to this supposed being, indeed, some ecologists maintain that the earth is indeed a life form, which they call Gaia). Orthodox Christians (I acknowledge that I am one) see things the opposite way around, namely, that the earth was created by an intelligent being for humankind (Christians’ sometimes-bad stewardship of it is the result of the way people are, after what we call The Fall), and that this present life is only an hors d’oeuvre, a temporary prologue to the real thing, Eternity, an existence outside time, and that the earth etc. will cease to exist long before individual people do. Individual people are of ultimate worth, not just a plague on nature (ecologists are often not slow to embrace the evils of misanthropy, euthanasia, ‘population control’, eugenics and abortion, for surely endangered species of animals, or any animals, are much more important than as-yet-unborn humans).
Yes, I ultimately agree with the religious person who sent me all those emails: Jesus will return, the world, etc. will indeed one day be wound up – the difference is that I’m personally convinced that the time of this event is not one which I might know, or should speculate about. I am sceptical regarding the possibility of this Second Coming happening in my lifetime (but I might be wrong). Either way, we must be ready, and pray for such an event, at some time. But regarding the end of the world by means of human over-consumption of things such as oil, I am not just sceptical of, but flatly disbelieve.
Last summer, I stood by the sea shore in West Wales. The sea was as cold as ever. I was rather sorry: some warmth in it might have been good, and the temperature at home last November was hardly an advert for Global Warming.