July| Vol. 22 No. 8.02 | Christian's Chronicles © 2015 – All rights reserved.
Our worst fears are becoming realized, reports CNN, as breaking news of the devastation in Oklahoma emerges, detailing the damage and casualties that resulted from a massive tornado ripping through everything in its path, including leveling an elementary school. First and foremost, I would like to express my sympathies for those who lost loved ones or even just property in this tragedy.
Second, I would like to comment on two things that are sure to come up in the discussions that will inevitably follow this incident. They are: global warming and the ‘problem of evil.’
I am sure many will be quick to attribute this storm to man made climate change, or what is colloquially referred to as global warming. They are wrong. No, I do not deny that man made climate change is a reality; most scientists pretty much have come to a consensus on this. I defer to their authority, and I see no reason not to trust scientific research that is freely available for all to read. So let me be absolutely clear: YES, I AGREE THAT MAN MADE FACTORS INFLUENCE THE ENVIRONMENT IN WAYS THAT HAVE BEEN DESCRIBED AS GLOBAL WARMING, OR MORE ACCURATELY AS CLIMATE CHANGE.
However, I am also reasonably certain that no serious scientist, or for that matter anyone who claims to engage in critical thinking, can attribute any single event to be evidence of man made changes to the environment. That is simply not how it works. Weather patterns and the changes resulting from human influences are far too complex and more subtle than the occasional hot day or dry winter most proponents of global warming are quick to attribute to such causes. Those events, as this one, certainly must have occurred at some point in the past. It is not the occurrence of individual events that demonstrates the reality of climate change. Rather, it is the subtle but demonstrable changes in temperature and weather patterns over decades, as compared to the relative stability over centuries, which show trends that indicate the impact of industrialization and the environmental impact of farming as well as the burning of fossil fuels that offers more reliable evidence of climate change caused by human activities.
The reason why it is important to recognize this is because weaker arguments become straw-men, easily knocked down, purportedly discrediting the whole notion of climate change. Simply put, credibility is at risk. When the credibility of those who advance an otherwise justified cause by less-than-complete arguments is called into question, it becomes easier to politicize the issues. So let us not engage in over-simplification.
Moving on to the problem of evil.
This is a philosophical issue for believers who have trouble reconciling the existence of evil in the world, with the existence of an all knowing and benevolent creator God. How can a good God allow such tragedies to take place? I am certain this question is being asked in Oklahoma as I write this.
I will not get too far into discussions about God, fate, and so on. As with all other topics on which there are passionate disagreements, both sides claim the other is ignorant. Volumes have been written on such topics. I can assure you that your ideas are not novel.
But perhaps one thing to consider is this: notions of good and evil may be quite different depending on one’s perspective. How can any believer be sure that what we may consider evil, is also evil from God’s perspective? Indeed, can we say with any certainty that evil exists outside the human perspective?
We may be free to ponder such philosophical questions at our leisure. I encourage those interested in such questions to explore Nietzsche’s writings, as well as Spinoza. However, at times of tragedy, such as today, we are rightfully overcome with empathy and sorrow for those who suffer.
So, once again, my condolences to those who lost loved ones, and my sympathies are with everyone affected by this terrible event.