Strange, then, that a self-professed atheist and scientific advisor to the Vatican named Hans Schellnhuber appears to believe in a Mother Earth.
In the Gaia Principle, Mother Earth is alive, and even, some think, aware in some ill-defined, mystical way. The Earth knows man and his activities and, frankly, isn’t too happy with him.
This is what we might call “scientific pantheism,” a kind that appeals to atheistic scientists. It is an updated version of the pagan belief that the universe itself is God, that the Earth is at least semi-divine — a real Brother Sun and Sister Water! Mother Earth is immanent in creation and not transcendent, like the Christian God.
What’s this have to do with Schellnhuber? In the 1999 Nature paper “‘Earth system’ analysis and the second Copernican revolution,” he said:
Ecosphere science is therefore coming of age, lending respectability to its romantic companion, Gaia theory, as pioneered by Lovelock and Margulis. This hotly debated ‘geophysiological’ approach to Earth-system analysis argues that the biosphere contributes in an almost cognizant way to self-regulating feedback mechanisms that have kept the Earth’s surface environment stable and habitable for life.
Geo-physiological, in case you missed it. Cognizant, in black and white. So dedicated is Schellnhuber to this belief that he says “the Gaia approach may even include the influence of biospheric activities on the Earth’s plate-tectonic processes.” Not the other way around, mind you, where continental drift and earthquakes effects life, but where life effects earthquakes.
One would think that, given the sheer size of the Catholic Church, someone could be found who was both orthodox and well-informed.
Indeed, such people are out there, but they can only contribute to the science, not to the pop science media feeding frenzy. Catering to which was probably the point of the climate change encyclical.
On the other hand, apart from the fact that it empties churches*, bad judgement is nothing new.
* Because, after a while, the faithful Catholic becomes afraid of the Church, not for the Church.
It is one thing if the Church’s enemies are afraid of her. But when devout people who spend much of their lives and income in good works commanded in Christ’s name perceive that the Church is principally interested in repairing relations with those who hate her by pretending to adopt progressive causes, the temptation becomes strong to just go on alone.
And leave the Vatican, for now anyway, with its horde of legacy media rats sniffing out sound bites.
See also: Vince Torley’s Evaluating the Pope’s encyclical, Part Three: Four internal contradictions in the Pope’s thinking.
And Barry Arrington’s Frank, the hippie Pope
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