COLTON — Man has been trying to influence the weather since he was created.
This has traditionally been done by worship of and appeals to a deity. In doxological Psalm 29, we read that “[t]he voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth ... breaketh the cedars of Lebanon ... shaketh the wilderness ...” Some biblical scholars believe that this psalm was originally a hymn to Baal Hadad, the Canaanite god of rain and storm — i.e., of the weather.
Hebrew priests took this hymn, mutatis mutandis, into their sacred scripture to convince the Israelites that they could stop worshipping Baal and start worshiping Yahweh without prejudicing their beneficial relationship with a god of the weather. As recounted in the First Book of Kings, the prophet Elijah ultimately defeats the prophets of Baal and brings an end to a long drought by producing a heavy rain through the power of Yahweh.
A Roman Catholic Missal in use today contains a prayer for “the timely aid of sufficient rain” as well as a prayer for fine weather: “We pray Thy clemency, O Almighty God, that Thou check the inundation of rain and vouchsafe to bestow upon us the gladness of Thy countenance.”
But recently, man, not God, is seen by many as being responsible for creating the weather. How did the created become the creator? In his 1952 book “Witness,” Whittaker Chambers suggests the origin of this change: the advent of communism. He writes that “[t]he Communist vision is the vision of Man without God ... of man’s mind displacing God as the creative intelligence of the world ... of man’s liberated mind, by the sole force of its rational intelligence, redirecting man’s destiny and reorganizing man’s life and the world ... Henceforth, man’s mind is man’s fate.”
So it is no coincidence that today’s democratic socialists are firm believers in anthropogenic climate change, or climate science, as they call their set of doctrines. This belief is at once a denial of the existence of God and an affirmation of the human mind as the logos. “In the beginning was the Word,” the Gospel of St. John begins; though “word,” or “verbum” in the Vulgate, is a very inadequate translation of the Greek “logos,” which is used in the gospel in its Stoic sense of the animating and organizing principle of the universe, or as Whittaker Chambers wrote, “the creative intelligence of the world.”
The eschatology of climate science may be said to mirror a Christian view of the end times. The actual end date keeps getting postponed (which is a feature of many millenarian beliefs), but there will be floods, droughts, tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world.”
Repentance for a climate scientist consists in renouncing the use of fossil fuels, which will lead to the end of climate disasters and to the era of sustainability, the climate scientist’s kingdom of heaven. For a Christian, however, the Kingdom of God, which he seeks through prayer, is “within you” or “in the midst of you.”
The persistence of the belief in God over the ages indicates that there is a permanent place in the human psyche for such a belief, a space that must be filled by something when God is given his walking papers. But the human mind as the incarnate logos has proved an inadequate substitute for God. The Soviet communists tried for generations to stamp out Christianity in Russia but were ultimately unsuccessful, and now Russian Orthodoxy is stronger there than ever.
Every traditional Christian liturgy can be seen as an elaboration of one prayer: Lord have mercy, Kyrie eleison, Gospodi pomilui. It is the core of the famous Jesus Prayer, the prayer of the heart: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Climate science demonstrates the ineradicable need humans have for God the Creator, whom they can reverence and petition, even when they deny his existence.
Kevin Beary is a Colton resident. He is a retired English professor who taught at the University of Florence in Italy.