A Sinful Environmental Holocaust! Seriously?

If there were a Mother Nature, she'd be unhappy

By William M Briggs Published on March 2, 2017

You would have thought the Church had learned its lesson with Galileo — at least in public relations — when it comes to science. Tying theological doctrine to empirical, and therefore highly fallible, observation and theory is bound to lead to grief.

The lesson, though, has not been learned. Take the case of Charles Cardinal Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar (a.k.a. Burma). In a voice loud enough that others might hear and quote him, he said, “Today we find ourselves faced with an ecological holocaust.”

Holy conflagration! A holocaust!

Why, everybody knows holocausts are bad things, ecological or not. True, when looking out the window, the environment doesn’t appear very holocaust-like. But perhaps there are gradations of holocausts? Maybe the fact that the earth’s average temperature last year didn’t match precisely the earth’s temperature from the year before that is a kind of mini-holocaust? A holocaustlette?

His Eminence lists a number of holocausty things he says are wrong. He complains that the earth “overheats,” that there are “thousands of environmental refugees,” that “climate change is an atomic bomb waiting to explode.” Of course, strictly speaking, all of these claims are false.

Perhaps he was just misinformed, or perhaps the problem lay deeper. Let’s hear the good Cardinal:

It is a very delicate moment. Pope Francis has raised a great shout loud against this impending disaster talking about modern sins, the ‘ecological sin’ made individually and collectively by humans who destroy Mother Earth.

We can allow that destroying “Mother Earth” is a sin, but the good news is that since no man has destroyed the earth, and no man can destroy the earth, there won’t be a lot of this sin about. Do you know how much it would take to destroy the planet? Well, let me tell you: a lot. Something on the order of pushing Mars out of its orbit so that it intersects with Mother when she isn’t looking. Kapow!

Anything short of that isn’t likely to do more than irritate dear Mother. (Dear Mother Earth, are we on a familiar enough basis I can call you Mom?) Think: the best giant rocks from space and strings of awful dyspeptic volcanoes have done was to cause a few long-forgotten species to hand in their dinner pails. Does anybody really miss trilobites?

Mom has always recovered from these non-man-made setbacks, which is a good reason to think she always will. Plus, it takes only the scantest knowledge of physics to grasp that there is no way man could ever match the destructive power of giant rocks from space. Or of angry chains of volcanoes. Or even of viruses. Our puny efforts are sufficient to slaughter millions, maybe even billions, of each other. But destroy the planet? Please.

In short, Mom will not disappear until Our Lord returns and starts the whole shebang over from scratch, an important point to remember. One wonders if Cardinal Bo remembers.

He said, “Humanity has broken the pact with nature, and that’s why it is a profoundly moral issue: an ecological original sin, who needs an ecological conversion and an ecological evangelization.”

Now this is a strange thing for a Christian leader to say because humanity never had a pact with “nature.” Does anybody remember signing a contract with Earth Mama? You also cannot commit a sin against a rock, let alone be tainted from birth by the “ecological original sin” of our distant forefather sinning against a rock. There is no such thing as an “ecological original sin.” It’s either sloppy speaking or simply false.

Mankind does have an irrevocable pact with God in which God gave man the earth. A gift He notably did not call “Mom.” God said, “And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.” That order came in covenant form, too. The real rainbow pact, and not the modern perversion of it.

Multiply, He said? Yes. As in have babies. God wasn’t into “population control.” Bring forth abundantly? Well, sure. As in providing the stuff we need for existence. No sense being on the planet if all the restaurants are closed.

Oh, sure, there have been plenty of screw-ups, folks who the crude, vulgar, but accurate expression describes, crap where they eat. That’s real sin, but it’s sin because of what their greed does to other people.

Cardinal Bo appears — I say only appears — to believe it’s possible to sin against a nonexistent Mom. Which sounds like paganism. Calling for an “ecological conversion” also sounds like paganism, as does calling for an “ecological evangelization.” His Eminence also in his speech calls for “ecological justice,” which sounds like he wants to put the squeeze on somebody’s wallet.

Whichever way you look at it, these words sure don’t have the ring of orthodox Christianity to them. How could a Cardinal, a Prince of the Church, speak like this?

The Vatican has more than its fair share of pagans roaming its halls at the moment in an advisory capacity, unfortunately, and maybe some of their errant and false philosophies are rubbing off on the prelates who get too close.

But that’s only a theory. Maybe you have a better explanation.

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  • John Ingram

    All part of the planned transformation of the Catholic Church into just another pagan religion, with maybe a few harmless Catholic overtones thrown in for good measure. The plan surfaced at Vatican II, having lurked underground for 100 years or more; the blueprint is in the ambiguous language of its documents, and the enemies of the Church who created those documents, and her enemies’ successors, are following the blueprint closely. This bishop appears to be just another one of the useful idiots.

    • justfeddup

      The plan surfaced at Vatican II, having lurked underground for 100 years or more;

      Sort of ties in with Pope Leo 13, the Leonine Prayer, vision of Satan and removal of said prayer by Vatican II. Is Satan coming to collect his own?

  • llew jones

    Of course the Pope and his Pagan mates, like the Cardinal mentioned, are not on their own. There is a whole group
    of syncretistic, pseudo Evangelical Leaders who also embrace the Pagan concept of Mother Earth.

    The assumed mythology is that this Earth prior to the Industrial Revolution was a veritable Garden of Eden. Well the
    Bible tells us that after the fall of Adam it was cursed. You say, “Oh no don’t even think that”. “Who cursed it?”
    Wait for it – God. “But that means we live in a God cursed Earth and environment?”

    Spot on:
    “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall

    bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return

    to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust are and to dust you will return.

    “Cursed is the ground. ” Because of Adam, there is a curse upon all creation. Wonder why the Pope, his mates and

    the syncretistic “Evangelical” leaders don’t start where the prophets and apostles such as the “first Pope” and Paul,
    for example, start?

    Paul knowing full well that God has cursed the present Earth says:

    “ I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the

    creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to
    frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope, that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”
    Romans 8 v 18-21.

    AKA The New Heaven and the New Earth.

  • llew jones

    If only this Pope and his Pagan mates took a bit more notice of the first “pope”.

    7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
    10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

    Hard to not giggle isn’t it? You horrid humans burning all that dirty coal and oil and chopping down all those CO2 absorbing trees (and using windmills that kill all those birds) sorry, forget the bit in brackets. You could increase the
    global temperature (whatever that means locally) by a few degrees Celsius. Oh shock horror. I’m sure Peter
    would have been impressed.

    But the first “pope” hasn’t finished yet:

    11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? ….. 13 But in keeping with

    his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. (2Peter 3).

    Who said there is nothing in the quantum multiverse hypothesis? How about the New Heaven and the New Earth?

    God can create as many universes as he pleases but as Peter has told us this cursed old Earth is going to get
    infinitely hotter than a bit of extra atmospheric CO2, could possibly make it, before our God creates the New Heavens and New Earth.

    So you syncretistic, pseudo Evangelical Leaders who are just as much into Mother Earth Paganism as is the Pope

    and many of his religious mates, please stop making fools of yourselves.

  • eddiestardust

    I REALLY DETEST FELLOW CATHOLICS AND CHRISTIANS THAT MAKE UP THEIR OWN “BIBLE VERSES”…

  • eddiestardust

    All right you “Bible Scholars”…
    Chapter and verse from The Old Testament or The New Testament where God tells us that we do NOT have the obligation to take care of our Planet?

    • samton909

      You seem to misunderstand the issue. Everyone agrees that we have to take care of the planet. What is in issue is whether the planet is in any real danger. There are no real signs that it is. So all the alarmism coming out of the Vatican is more akin to nuttiness than calm, reasoned examination of the data.

      • Michael Gore

        Not to mention we need to ask the very important question: Why do we care about taking care of the Earth? I think the Biblical response to that question would have to be that we are commanded to love our neighbors, not love the earth. So we should be good stewards of the world we have been given because we care about the other people who have to live there. I’m a little troubled by the bishop talking about “Mother Earth”. That’s pagan talk to try to personalize the natural world, or at best, very sub-biblical. We owe no respect or love to dirt or trees or animals, however we care for these things because they were put there for our USE.

        After all, God did give Adam and Eve (and through them mankind as a whole) the authority to rule over the natural world.
        “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen 1:28).

    • Vincent J.

      Chapter and verse where God tells us that we do have an obligation to take care of our planet in the way that today’s liberals say it should be done?

  • James B

    Just another wacko lackey of Francis dutifully pushing the agenda.

    I hope and pray this pontificate ends soon.

  • samton909

    Nutty

  • missy

    This smacks of radical Vatican activism – another deceptive environmental encyclical announcement to fulfill the ambitious NWO solidarity agenda. Coming soon …. cosmic extra-terrestrial evangelism? Proverbs 26:10 ‘the great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool and rewardeth transgressors’.

  • John A. Murdock

    I’m no fan of “Mother Earth” mumbo jumbo, either, but in flailing away at that piñata you’ve also bloodied some beautiful biblical noses.

    You say, “Now this is a strange thing for a Christian leader to say because humanity never had a pact with ‘nature.’”

    Oh, really? “Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen. 1:28); “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen. 2:15); “You made [man] ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.” (Psalm 3:6-8); “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals” (Proverbs 12:10); and I could note more but that suffices. It goes without saying that there are good rulers and bad rulers. We are called to be the former.

    Now, I will certainly cede your point (emphasized more in your next paragraph) that the Genesis 1 pact is “about” nature, not “with” nature in a signatory sense. But my concern is that you only emphasize the “multiply” part of the job description, not the broader stewardship mandate. God gave mankind the earth not just as a gift to enjoy but also as a responsibility. Our planet is indeed a gift in the sense that we did not make it or “earn” it, but it is not an “it’s yours, do whatever you want with it” gift but a gift with conditions. (See Wendell Berry’s “The Gift of Good Land”—available online at Flourish—for imperfect but often prescient insights on this.)

    Plus, the “rainbow pact” you mention actually is a pact “with” nature—God makes a unilateral covenant not just with humanity but with “every living creature” of the earth as well, key parts of the ark story. Noah, God’s servant, shepherded those creatures and released them from the ark after the flood “so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.” So, humans are not the only ones who are supposed to multiply.

    The “holocaust” language may be extreme but it is worth asking just how the other creatures are doing? And, perhaps, we will have to do a bit more than just look out our own windows to make that judgment. Most ordinary Germans could not just look out their windows and see that a holocaust was occurring around them.

    Finally, it is a debatable point (but one worth debating) whether Jesus really will “start the whole shebang over from scratch” as you interpret Revelation 21. I’m not the first to note that in that same chapter Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new,” not “all new things.” Renewing, redeeming, and glorifying is a different project than scrapping and building differently from scratch. The noted Bible scholar N.T. Wright has a great piece on redemptive eschatology called “Jesus is Coming, Plant a Tree” available at the Plough website. It is worth a read.

  • Bob Beeman

    I clicked on the supposed link @mattstat on your bio. It’s not you.

  • John A. Murdock

    I’m no fan of “Mother Earth” mumbo jumbo, either, but in flailing away at that piñata you’ve also come close to bloodying some beautiful biblical noses.

    You say, “Now this is a strange thing for a Christian leader to say because humanity never had a pact with ‘nature.’”

    Oh, really? “Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen. 1:28). It goes without saying that there are good rulers and bad rulers. We are called to be the former.

    The directives to care for creation then go well beyond the first page of the Bible: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen. 2:15); “You made [man] ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.” (Psalm 3:6-8); “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals” (Proverbs 12:10); and I could note more but that suffices.

    Now, I will certainly cede your point (emphasized more in your next paragraph) that the Genesis 1 pact is “about” nature, not “with” nature in a signatory sense. But my concern is that you only emphasize the “multiply” part of the job description, not the broader stewardship mandate. God gave mankind the earth not just as a gift to enjoy but also as a responsibility. Our planet is indeed a gift in the sense that we did not make it or “earn” it, but it is not an “it’s yours, do whatever you want with it” type of gift. The earth is a gift that comes with conditions. (See Wendell Berry’s “The Gift of Good Land” for imperfect but often prescient insights on this. The essay is available online in the Flourish archives.)

    Plus, the “rainbow pact” you mention actually is a pact “with” nature—God makes a unilateral covenant not just with humanity but with “every living creature” of the earth. Noah, God’s servant, shepherded those creatures in the ark and released them after the flood “so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it.” (Gen. 8:17) So, humans are not the only ones who are supposed to multiply. Yet, many species from sea turtles to tigers have seen their numbers dramatically decline in the past two centuries. The “holocaust” language may be extreme but it is worth asking just how the other creatures are doing? And, perhaps, we will have to do a bit more than just look out our own windows to make that judgment. Most ordinary Germans could not just look out their windows and see that a holocaust was occurring around them.

    Finally, it is a debatable point (but one worth debating) whether Jesus really will “start[] the whole shebang over from scratch” as you interpret Revelation 21. I’m not the first to note that in that same chapter Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new,” not “all new things.” Renewing, redeeming, and glorifying is a different project than scrapping and building differently from scratch. The noted Bible scholar N.T. Wright has a great piece on redemptive eschatology called “Jesus is Coming, Plant a Tree” available at the Plough website. It is worth a read.

    I completely agree that it is concerning to see unbiblical enviro-talk in the Vatican, but the solution is embracing a biblical vision of creation stewardship, not overreacting and disparaging all things green.

  • llew jones

    I notice you mention N.T.Wright and in your Genesis reference to, the pre – fall, command by God given to Adam to
    multiply and have dominion over every living creature you correctly say it has the element of human

    stewardship. I don’t know if you intentionally omitted that part of God’s command to Adam that instructed him to

    “subdue” the earth. Anyway the covenant seems to be with Adam and God rather than with nature. Back to Wright
    later.

    Here is William M Briggs CV:

    Dr. William M. Briggs is an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at Cornell University, where he acquired both an M.S. in Atmospheric Science and a Ph.D. in Statistics. In addition to teaching, William works as a consultant with specialties

    in medicine, the environment, and the philosophy of, and over-certainty in, science.

    I came across Dr. Briggs writings several years ago on our leading non alarmist AGW site in Australia, before I was
    aware of The Stream. Jonova, the name of that site, is skeptical of much of the “science” of the alarmist sect of

    Climate Science. Most of those who comment on that site are atheists and evolutionists but highly skeptical of the alarmist sect of Climate Science. So when I have nothing better to do have a bit of fun suggesting to them that the

    theory of evolution is about as valid a science as the alarmist version of Climate “Science.” Mentioning to them that

    they ought to check out all the atheistic scientists who in increasing numbers are rejecting its validity through consideration of such things are the Cambrian fossil record. Poor old Darwin had his doubts about this one but was

    sure the pre Cambrian transitional fossils would turn up. They haven’t yet.

    Not sure if you know this but official Catholic teaching is that original sin began with Adam’s and Eve’s rebellious

    defiance of the command of their creator. That is also the teaching of Protestantism that takes the bible as
    the inspired word of God.

    Paul obviously also believed that:

    12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to

    all people, because all sinned—13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time

    of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to

    come.15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more

    did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can

    the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought

    condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one
    man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of

    grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!
    18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made

    sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Romans 5.

    See how without the fall Christ’s death for sin has no biblical and logical meaning.

    Now that’s where N.T. Wright comes into the picture. He was once an Evangelical NT scholar who believed in the inerrancy of scripture and accepted the first 3 or 4 chapters of Genesis as history. But since that time has embraced evolution and is of course thus one of biologos’s “star” contributors. He no longer believes in an historic Adam and

    Eve and thus rejects the idea of original sin and the subsequent curse of death and decay that God placed on all

    nature. And like you is a bit dubious about God creating a New heaven and New Earth, the eternal (trillions of years

    is not even a start for eternal. The big bang tells us that the present Earth won’t be around that long. That seems a

    valid enough reason to give this one the flick and create an eternal one) abode of the redeemed.

    Do you see where Dr. Briggs is coming from? Here is the Pope whose religion tells him that sin has brought the

    curse of death and decay on every inhabitant of the Earth as well as on the environment. And that curse from Adam
    till now. However this Pope and many of his cardinals are worried that we will get that Pagan goddess, Mother Earth,
    so upset by us turning our Garden of Eden into a despoiled overpopulated planet. Do you know what the Bible says about Jesus? “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things

    by his powerful word.” All things? Yes like everything in the universe. Last time I checked the Earth was in the

    Universe. Buzz off Mother Earth.

    Oh yes N.T. Wright on Paul and original sin. Guess what? Paul really got himself confused about original sin. Poor

    old Paul didn’t know about evolution so among other things Wright has tried to help him out with a book, “The New Perspective on Paul”.

  • Dean Bruckner

    There is indeed an ecological sin: it’s called idolatry, and it seems the cardinal is up to his collar in it.

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