Re: [asa] finally convinced

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Tue Dec 15 2009 - 14:17:33 EST

> If GW is a judgment on extravagant use of resources then it has to be ex post facto judgment, since there was no way for man to know that burning coal and oil was not a good thing for them until very recently. And even today on this list we are still debating whether CO2 is a good or bad thing for the environment.
> Ever since mankind was successful at his quest for fire, it has been generally accepted that the heat energy released from fire for cooking, heat and light has been a good thing and not bad. And when we found we could do it on large scales in more efficient forms and apply it to other uses, then it was even better. This is why I cannot easily buy the judgment argument. It is unnatural and counterintuitive.
> It makes God capricious for punishing the innocent and most vulnerable for something that someone else also did innocently possibly hundreds of years before that came natural to them and that helped themselves and others. Its a no win situation like the classic verse from Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues "Look out kid, It's somethin' you did. God knows when but you're doin' it again". This is a major theological red flag for anyone with even the most basic spiritual discernment.
> Instead, this sounds to me more like an unintended consequence, like using margarine or saccharin or smoking, while leaving out the judgment aspect implying some divine wrath. It is different from jumping off a high building because man can reasonably be expected to know that that is not so smart. For this to be the equivalent it would have to mean that God is a diabolical trickster and that He gives snakes instead of fish when you ask Him.
> And as mentioned before, unless it is targeted at a specific segment of the population like greedy capitalist industrialists, I don't see how this would be a very fair judgment. Especially when it is visited on us wholesale including the poor who didn't have anything to do with it. And all the other examples of judgment we have are a little more judicious. Plus I don't trust the prophets that are heralding this doom and gloom.<

Consider the situation for a clearly immoral action. It has
consequences, not only for the person doing the act but also for other
people, not only those relatively closely connected such as friends of
the involved parties or victims, but also for the general public who
may be influenced (e.g., he got away with it so I should be able to;
we need to mount a moral crusade against this). In general, the poor
are more vulnerable to negative impacts from the actions of others,
simply because they have less protection and less flexibility. E.g.,
both Bill Gates and I encounter nuisances from slow or bungled
paperwork, but he does not need to worry about whether delayed payment
of a few thousand dollars will affect ability to pay bills. In this
life, we do not see a simple pattern in which the guilty get precisely
what they deserve. Rather, in both the moral and the physical world,
our actions have consequences that affect not only ourselves but also
those around us, and potentially the whole world. This is part of
the general fallenness of things-our whole system tends to work
against us, no matter what aspect we try to fix, because the whole
system is built of fallen, fallible, finite humans.

Similar considerations apply to AIDS and other sexually transmitted
diseases. They spread in large part via immoral activity, but not
necessarily on the part of all involved individuals. They also affect
the families and friends of the disease victims. Foolish responses
and irresponsible denialism compound the problem. Going a step back,
the immoral activities are often inspired by pornography or other
previous sinful example. A person who repents (if they sinned in the
first place) does not miraculously become well, nor does someone who
knowingly persists in immoral behavior that puts others at risk
necessarily become sicker.

Such consequences can, in one sense, be regarded as judgements.
However, they are quite different from the final dispensing of full
justice that is anticipated eschatologically.

On the one hand, it is quite wrong to say "So and so has this problem,
therefore he must have sinned." (Although certain problems would be
very difficult to get into entirely innocently, even there the
relative fault could vary widely.) But on the other hand, it is quite
true that actions have consequences and must be taken seriously.
Physical things are generally neither good nor bad, but rather are
able to be put to good, bad, or (more usually) mixed use. Fire for
warmth and cooking is a good thing, though soot can be a problem; fire
burning down your house is a bad thing, and no one wants to be burned
at the stake (not counting the individual in Harry Potter who, being
able to escape magically, thought it was great fun).

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Tue Dec 15 14:18:22 2009

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