Doomed and Damned

Yes we are.

But not all doom is equal.

Scott Wickstein compares the state religion of modern environmentalism to the rise of the early Christian Roman state, and says he feels like a Pagan:

I am not sure what will really qualify as comparable milestones in the rise of environmentalism as the official faith of the West, but for those of us of a skeptical nature, I think it does rather have a feel of being like a Pagan in 4th Century Rome.
(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

I think it should be borne in mind that early Christians shared an important feature in common with modern environmentalists, in that they believed the End of The World was at hand. (This would have been a hard sell to the Pagans of the period whose multiple gods ran around doing pretty much what they wanted, which made it tough to run as a state religion until the Emperor was included among the gods. But this only heightened skepticism, and few Romans truly believed the official Pagan nonsense. Once it was officially gone, few were left to defend it.)

Everyone has a right to hold whatever beliefs he might want about the end of the word (whether religious or otherwise), but as Scott Wickstein's post reminds, all beliefs were not treated equally in ancient Rome, nor are they treated equally now.

As Bert Prelutsky demonstrates, even purely religious beliefs are not treated equally. How they are treated depends not on what they are or how irrational they are, but who holds them:

....[W]hen the candidates are Republicans, you might get the idea that the members of the MSM were boning up for their theology exams. Is Huckabee too Christian? Does he actually believe the universe was created in six days? When he was a governor, did he go out of his way to commute the sentences of felons because he was a sucker for anyone who announced in the slammer that he'd found Christ? Is Giuliani, who contributed to pro-choice organizations, flying under false colors as a Catholic? Does Romney really believe that Satan and Jesus are brothers, or at least third cousins, once removed?

Why is it, I wonder, that nobody is asking Barack Obama about his religious convictions? From what I've gathered, they're far more fascinating than Mitt Romney's.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

I think it's obvious why they're not. There's a double standard.

Some religious beliefs (and views of the doomed and the damned) are more equal than others.

I looked at the church of Obama in an earlier post (as M. Simon did repeatedly), and concluded that while its liberationist theology was kooky, they at least allow white members, so in that respect it's not as kooky as the Nation of Islam (or segregated churches of the past).

But the point is not how it rates on the kook scale, but why it gets a free pass in most of the MSM, while the religious views of GOP candidates are scrutinized.

What I'd really like to know is why the Democrats always get a pass on apocalyptic doom. In this respect, Wickstein really hits on something in analogizing between environmentalism and early Roman Christianity.

For the record, I think people who believe the end of the world is at hand are kooks, OK?

But for some reason, there's a rule that people who believe the end is at hand are only kooky if their "end times" beliefs are based on the Christian faith. If they are based on environmentalism, they will not be called kooky, no matter how dire the predictions. (Quite the contrary; the skeptics are the ones who will be called kooky.)

Ridiculous scare advertisements depict vast floods and show skyscrapers sticking up out of water aim at winning converts to environmentalist end times belief systems. Far from being condemned in the way an "irresponsible" Rapture group's claim would be, they are seen as "wake up calls" by people who care.

From "The Great Tribulation":

All the icecaps and glaciers will melt and the oceans may literally boil.
OK, most reasonable people would agree that's kooky.

But the predictions of NASA scientist James Hansen are reported as dire truths, and even headlined as "We'll wait 'til Arctic waters boil":

....as Greenland and West Antarctic ice is softened and lubricated by meltwater ... the balance will tip toward the rapid disintegration of ice sheets. Earth's history suggests that with warming of two to three degrees, the new sea level will include not only most of the ice from Greenland and West Antarctica, but a portion of East Antarctica, raising the sea level by 25 metres, or 80 feet.

Hansen's prediction was famously illustrated in a Vanity Fair article, which (I hasten to add) not only failed to poke fun at Hansen's wild claims, but sang hosannas of praise.

And featured this picture of the Great Flood:

Great_NY_Flood.jpg

Never mind that Hansen has been discredited as a quasi-religious crank whose bugged algorithms produced erroneous figures.

Some doom is more equal.

This makes life tough for a skeptic. You're supposed to spend your life listening to end of the world predictions which you'll never live to see, and you're only allowed to be critical of some of them, depending on the whims of the people in power.

How easy it is to pity the skeptics of ancient times. But the Romans were ruled by a tyrannical imperial system and we have the First Amendment.

So why do so many skeptics cower?

posted by Eric on 01.13.08 at 05:52 PM










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