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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
The Important Theological Stupidity Of Marco Rubio
Normally one tries to refrain from this kind of language. Some people do anyway. But I think occasionally you come across an idea that demands to be labeled in these terms. It's a kind of intellectual biohazard sign - A way of loudly and clearly saying, "Do Not Handle."
When I was younger, I remember a discussion in class about when and how the Russians were going to blow us to smithereens. A girl in front piped up with this nugget:
"Jesus won't let nuclear war happen, because then He wouldn't be able to return."
The idea that we didn't have to worry about an arms race getting out of control because the Lord was acting as the final security mechanism on the atomic arsenals of the world - that Jesus had to turn the last, phantom key along with our missile commanders - it was so idiotic I marveled at it like a rare bird. It was in fact the dumbest thing I ever heard. Until last night.
"Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio," said Marco Rubio, who was by all reports not suffering from oxygen deprivation. "But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called 'clean energy' companies like Solyndra, let’s open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration.'"
Let's ignore the fact that this was a sly fist-bump with right wing Christians, many of whom believe that environmentalism goes against God's plan. Rubio's statement was wrong on many levels, and I want to focus.
He attempted to cut through all the complicated issues about what we're doing to the climate, how bad it is, and what we can do to stop it. Instead, he appealed directly to the faith of millions of Americans with a very simple argument: God put that oil and coal there. Therefore He wants us to use it. Therefore using it won't result in anything bad. That was some powerful imbecility right there. And it's important to counteract it on its own terms. So...
Everybody, listen. God also made cliffs. He made lava. He made poisonous snakes, and jagged rocks, and jellyfish, and Courtney Love. Just because He put something there doesn't mean He wants you to mess with it.
There's a more complicated argument involving the existence of Natural Evil, which is there for the testing of the faithful and the ultimate perfection of the universe. Guys like Augustine and Origen had a whole theory about it, and I don't pretend to understand. And I'm an agnostic. Enough to say that God, if He exists, won't give you a pass to endanger yourself and then whisk you away from trouble. There's evidence of that. We should all agree with that. Anyone who doesn't needs the "stupid" tag, and needs it badly.