Sat 13 Nov 2021 | by John Schroeder
Watching the COP26 climate change conference unfold was a nightmare.
It’s funny how the problems I see there are the same whether you look at them as a scientist or a humanist. Science is supposed to be a humbling experience. The more we know, the more we should know we don’t know. Yet here’s a major international conference attempting to change everything about the way the world works based on information and data that does little more than ask a thousand more questions. But in the end this is not a scientific failure, it is a human failure: it is a simple, overwhelming pride.
As a humanist, what is unfolding at the conference strikes me as a very familiar roadmap, one that we have seen happening at a much faster pace with the pandemic. Actions born of a sense of urgency when the situation is not fully understood, actions born of a fear of the unknown and actions born of hubris – a sense that it is in our power to control what is inherently uncontrollable.
The nightmare quality of watching all of this is twofold. It consumes me with fear and compassion. I consider what Paul wrote to the church in Rome:
Indeed, since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, understood by what has been done, so that men are without excuse.
I am compassionate because it is clear that people do not see God in his creation. If they saw him, they would know that he is in control of his time, not us or our time, which would humiliate them and at the same time ease their fear. But I’m afraid because of the words “no excuses”. This is taken from a passage all about God’s wrath for those who don’t recognize Him. Fortunately, it is followed by many chapters that reveal God’s extraordinary plan for our salvation from that wrath.
Now, the usual disclaimer. The pandemic was real and a problem. The climate is changing and we should ask ourselves what our role is in it. I am not denying here – I am simply pointing out that when we try to tackle such problems without God we are leading us in all the wrong directions.
God is making himself very clear to us. We simply need the will to see.