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Bible Protects Against Global Warming? Energy Chair Hopeful Tells Us So

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The House's new Republican leadership will begin doling out coveted committee chairs after the Thanksgiving break, and it's unclear whether Rep. John Shimkus is helping his chances to lead the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee by arguing that climate change is a myth because God told Noah he would never again destroy the Earth by flood.

Shimkus, an Illinois Republican, who won his seventh term this month, earned a dubious bit of YouTube notoriety in March 2009 when he told a subcommittee hearing on energy and the environment that we needn't worry about global warming because of Genesis 8:21-22. In that passage, Noah emerges from the ark, sacrifices some birds and beasts to God, and in turn earns God's pledge: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man."

Shimkus, a conservative Christian who attends a Lutheran church, then cited Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 24) and his prophecy about the Second Coming when Christ will gather his believers and leave the rest to perish. The congressman invited the two clerics in attendance to a "theological discourse" on those verses -- they have been debated and interpreted over the centuries -- but Shimkus said the meaning was clear to him:

"The earth will end only when God declares it's time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood. ... I do believe God's word is infallible, unchanging, perfect."

He went on to discuss atmospheric carbon levels in the age of the dinosaurs -- a topic that would normally be biblically problematic for scriptural literalists -- and noted that millions of years ago the carbon levels were estimated to be as high as 4,000 parts per million (ppm) as opposed to 388 ppm today, and that was the time of the greatest number of flora and fauna on the planet. "There is a theological debate that this is a carbon-starved planet," he said.

Shimkus' statements were met with eye-rolls and much Internet commentary back then. But after Republicans swept into power in the House on Nov. 2, followed a week later by Shimkus' announcement that he would seek the chairmanship of Energy and Commerce -- a committee through which most bills travel before reaching the House floor -- Shimkus' past statements have suddenly become fresh news again.

Not that he's backing away from them, even as the campaign for Energy and Commerce chair becomes one of the most bitterly contested among Republicans.

"I do believe in the Bible as the final word of God," Shimkus told Politico after announcing his candidacy. "And I do believe that God said the Earth would not be destroyed by a flood."

Shimkus notes that he believes the climate is changing, and toward the warmer side. But he questions whether spending money to mitigate its effects is wise, especially given God's guarantee that floods would not destroy the earth before Jesus returns.

The three other Republicans battling Shimkus for the Energy and Commerce gavel are Joe Barton of Texas, Fred Upton of Michigan and Cliff Stearns of Florida. Barton and Upton are believed to be the top contenders. But the relatively moderate Upton is taking some heat from conservative groups, like the Family Research Council, for being a "part-time Republican" while Barton is still saddled with his viral line last year in which he called Obama administration efforts to make BP cover cleanup costs for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill a "shakedown."

All three candidates are certainly representative of the new global-warming skepticism dominating the latest version of the Republican Party. Of climate change, Ron Johnson, the new senator from Wisconsin, said it is "far more likely that it's just sunspot activity."

Moreover, Shimkus and the Bible-believing skeptics of climate change have powerful allies in the emergent Tea Party movement, which in turn has extensive support for the oil and coal industry.

Yet Shimkus may have long-term political viability issues with his Christian base. While evangelicals continue to be more skeptical about global warming and whether humans have anything to do with it, younger evangelicals are increasingly warming to the climate change cause, and in recent years many conservative Christian leaders have signed on to the theological imperative of "creation care," as it is known. And white mainline Protestants, like Shimkus, are even slightly more likely than Americans overall to say the earth is warming because of human activity.

The BP oil spill was also a moment of truth for many Christian conservatives, who saw the nation's dependence on oil and environmental disasters as intertwined, and an inevitable challenge to people of faith.

"Ecological Catastrophe and the Uneasy Evangelical Conscience," as Russell D. Moore, dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote in a powerful jeremiad comparing the oil spill to the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Then again, those eco-evangelicals don't seem to have many options in the Energy and Commerce contest, especially if it comes down to Joe Barton, who apologized to BP for its treatment by President Barack Obama, or John Shimkus, whose theology may not be as problematic for these green Christians as his politics.

"Really, the focus is not going to be climate," as Shimkus told Politico. "The climate debate has, at least for two years, has ended with this election. The real focus is on energy security."

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RE: Rep. John Shimkus Read (Secularism) in Wikipedia as it pertains to Politics and common sense. Keep religion out of politics, all elected offices represent all the people, or they are supposed to........

December 05 2010 at 12:17 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

One small midterm election for America. One giant step backwards for mankind. What's next, a return to the inqisitions ?

December 05 2010 at 7:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First, in answer to Delmis – The Roman Catholic church used these, among other, passages from the Bible to support their “flat earth/center of the universe” edict: Psalm 93:1, 96:10 and 1 Chronicles 16:30, to wit, "the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved." Psalm 104:5 -- "the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved", and Ecclesiastes 1:5 – “And the sun rises and sets and returns to its place." The Holy Office also had an international group of scholars of theology and cannon law that used these Bible passages (and others) to advise the church leaders that the propositions that the sun is immobile and the center of the universe and that the earth moves around it “foolish and absurd in philosophy,” “erroneous in faith” and “formally heretical.” Whether the Bible says the earth is flat and the center of the universe is obviously based on interpretation. Rob -- I said 99.9% of Christians believed the earth was flat and the center of the universe which did not exclude the people of most of the rest of the world. I didn’t include non-Christians simply because for the most part they had nothing to do with persecution of religious heretics. It is HISTORICAL FACT that the Roman Catholic Church was the persecutor of heretics for hundreds of years. Leaders of kingdoms may have persecuted people but for being heretics only at the instruction of the Roman Catholic Church. FACT -- in February 1616, the Roman Catholic Church (Roman Inquisition) condemned heliocentrism (astronomical model in which the earth and planets revolve around the stationary sun at the center of the solar system) as "false and contrary to Scripture." In 1633, when Galileo defended heliocentrism in his most famous work, “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems,” he was tried by the Roman Inquisition which found Galileo "vehemently suspect of heresy" for having held the opinions that the Sun lies motionless at the centre of the universe, that the Earth is not at its centre and moves, and that this is contrary to Holy Scripture. He was sentenced to formal imprisonment at the pleasure of the Roman Inquisition. On the following day this was commuted to house arrest, which he remained under for the rest of his life. “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” was banned and publication of any of his works was forbidden, including any he might write in the future. Other heretics of that general time period, who didn’t have friends within the church, were tried and executed – the most famous being mathematician and astronomer Giordano Bruno and philosopher Domenico who was ordered burned at the stake by Pope Clement VIII. I am a Christian, but it serves no useful purpose to ignore (or change) history.

December 03 2010 at 2:20 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to JBD's comment
Allen D. Bearden

It is pretty clear that the writers of the bible believed the earth was flat, though I do not have time to look up all of the references. They visualized a flat plane, surrounded by "Ocean Rivers" on all sides, with a half dome firmament- sitting on the plane. The stars were pricks in the dome that allowed the light of God to shine thru at night. God was just on the other side, and they thought if they could build a tower tall enough, they could reach him. The sun and moon were placed in the sky specifically to provide light for man. What should trouble fundamentalist Christians is the fact that the writers didn’t know any more than anyone else. They didn’t know the earth was round, or that it moved, or had cold regions at the poles, or about the atom, the cell, germs, or gravity. Their world view was consistent with what everyone of the day believed, and borrowed heavily from earlier myths and stories. If there was a God, and he wrote a book, it would not be this one. This guy doesn’t need to get anywhere close to a committee chairmanship.

December 05 2010 at 8:33 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

People should wait until Jesus returns before declaring a verdict on so-called "global warming." Besides, most people don't like the cold; they like things warm. Just look at the migration to the sun belt states in the US...

December 02 2010 at 8:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was not going to weigh into this but would like to make one point. The Bible does not give an age to the earth. It gives and age to the time when God interacts with the earth and the creation of life on the planet. It does not clearly indicate the earth was created from nothing and immediately followed by the creation of life. The whole young age old age earth debate is a red herring in my opinion.

December 02 2010 at 5:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For many centuries 99.9% of Christians believed the earth was flat and the center of the universe because the Bible said so and the Bible is Gods Word. Scientist who disagreed with this dumbness were tortured and killed by the infallible church leaders. Galileo was lucky – he was just locked up. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the Pope admitted the world really was round and apologized to those whom the church persecuted for saying otherwise. I’m happy to see that we have elected men and women with the same foresight as the Christians of old to lead our country in these critical times. BTW, "Never again will I curse the ground because of man" – God didn’t say man wouldn’t destroy the earth!!

December 01 2010 at 12:38 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to JBD's comment

Whoever said that global warming absolutely means the end of the world? All I've ever heard is that it signals tough times ahead. Pretty shaky reasoning. But then again, people have been using religion for centuries to further their personal agenda.

November 30 2010 at 1:43 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jasonjamski's comment

There are strong arguements that the benefits of warming would outweigh the bad. Cooling would be worse.. Actually many more people die each year from cold than do of heat.

November 30 2010 at 10:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

gsandersjr10:37 PM Nov 30, 2010 There are strong arguements that the benefits of warming would outweigh the bad. Cooling would be worse.. Actually many more people die each year from cold than do of heat. IMHO it is not the number of people dying from heat or cold that global warming means. It is the number that will die from drowning when the polar icecaps melt and New York, Florida and other areas close to the oceans are inundated by the 15 to 20 foot rise of water.

December 12 2010 at 3:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is he serious? He is going to be in this committee and do absolutely NOTHING about the state of the environment because the Bible will protect the Earth?!? This is a serious issue; it's not about being loyal to your faith and whatever. The proof of global warming is all around you: climate, glaciers melting,animals dying... This guy has no real evidence to prove the Earth will be ok. He's is going to rely on some vague part of the Book of Genesis.

November 29 2010 at 10:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

every time one of these religious topics comes up, I always ask the same question repeatedly. I have yet to get a reply. I will ask again. Mr. Shimkus and other "true" beleivers state that the Bible is the "infallible, unchanging, perfect" word of God. If this is true, I have to ask, "which version of the Bible is the right and true one"? From the oldest known Biblical texts to the current King James version, there are more changes than there are total words. Many of the more popular bible stories have been shown to be from sidebars that the scribes were writing as they made new copies. Translations are all over the place. So again, which is the perfect, infallable, unchanging version of "the truth" that tells us that Shimkus knows what on earth he is talking about?

November 29 2010 at 2:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cleanburnjay's comment

Most Christians who affirm the "infallibility" of scriptures only assert that the "perfect, infallible, unchanging version of the truth" is the original writings of the writers. How do we have any confidence that these writings have been preserved well enough so that the "truth" has not been corrupted? We have various ways of being confident of this. In the case of the new testament, most if not all of the new testament can be reproduced by all the letters written by the early christians to other christians quoting scriptures. There are also many letters written to unbelievers defending christianity from that period. There are also fragments of papyrus that date to about 30-50 AD with quotes from scriptures. This evidence along with complete codex (Biblical manuscripts) from the 4th and 5th centuries give us great confidence that the new testament we have is basically the same as what was written by the original authors who themselves were eyewitnesses to what they write about. What changes there might be are mostly cosmetic and not relevant to any major or even minor doctrinal issues. In the case of the KJV there are some verses that many if not most Biblical scholars suspect may have been added by a scribe at a later time. As far as I know, there is only one popular bible story that may have been added by a scribe. Again these verses and the story it tells has no impact on any doctrinal issues. In the case of the Old Testament, comparisons between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint (A greek translation of the original hebrew texts) along with the oldest existing hebrew texts which date 500 - 1000 years of difference show that during that time frame there are no significant changes in text. As far as translations, the ones that are considered most reliable are the ones that have been made by committees of reputable, credible, respected Greek or Hebrew scholars who have a large variety of doctrinal backgrounds. Having a variety of doctrinal backgrounds helps ensures that modern doctrinal biases do not influence the translations. The other issues that translators face is that there are some Hebrew words whose meaning has been lost. Most of these words are translated by inferring the meaning from context in which they are used. A final form for validating the "infallibility" of scriptures has been archaeology. Modern "liberal" scholars who have attempted to deny the infallibility of scripture "prove" scripture wrong by taking stories like Jonah and saying it couldn't be true because Nineveh did not exist. Along comes an archaeologist and digs up the city of Nineveh. The story of Daniel was also discredited because Daniel is referred to as being the "third highest" official in the land. Turns out that there were essentially two kings during this portion of Daniels story. The king's son who stayed in the capital and ruled in the kings name and the king himself who was away conquering other lands. Cases like this abound where modern scholars "prove" that a given story is false but that archaeologists then show that the Bible was actually 100% correct. None of the above assertions prove that Bible is "infallible". They only reaffirm our faith and belief that it is. I hope this helps answer your question.

November 29 2010 at 5:27 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I am a Christian who believes that God did destroy the earth in a flood. I see ample evidence of that global catastrophe in places like the Grand Canyon and numerous other similar places where a massive flood event that defies our imagination is the best explanation. I also don't believe in "man made" climate change... I believe in God's sovereignty in this area. However, the climate change people, are not claiming that there will be a global flood on the scale of the Noahic flood. They do think the oceans will rise a bit causing massive flooding in low lying areas. So the reassurance that God will not destroy the earth in a worldwide deluge does not apply to global warming or climate change. The global warming argument is full of holes. Scientist can predict tomorrow's weather with a high degree of accuracy. But put that forecast out 1 week and that accuracy plummets. Put the forecast out 2-3 weeks and the forecasters are clueless. Yet we are supposed to believe that carbon dioxide which we exhale and which plants "breathe" is now a pollution that will cause the earth to warm catastrophically over the next "unknown" number of years. To be honest it takes more faith to believe that than in Noah's flood.

November 29 2010 at 2:28 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to bobblomberg's comment

Really. The Grand Canyon! WOW amazing. But according to the Bible the earth is 6000 years old!? And every scientist in the world will tell you that the Canyon was carved over millions of years. Unless you are referring to the writings inthe north rim that says "Noah was Here"---OK there is no global warming. a vast majority of the world's scientists are wrong. I can rest easier now.

November 30 2010 at 9:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

The Grand Canyon was carved out over millions of years, and was NOT the result of ONE flood. Sorry.

November 30 2010 at 1:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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