Be fruitful and multiply,” says the book of Genesis, and Lord knows we have. To the tune of more than 300 million at home and more than 6 billion abroad. But as we go about the heavenly task of multiplying, a poignant question arises: Might our religion be killing us?
We all remember the Aztecs. Some say their religion, with its penchant for violence and human sacrifice, played a critical role in the destruction of their civilization. We moderns are far more sophisticated, of course, but if we persist with some of our religious practices, we could be heading down the same disastrous dog trot. Sort of a reverse Noah story. Noah is credited with saving humanity during the big flood. We could be the ones who get blamed for destroying it.
Here’s why. The hundreds of scientists who make up the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned recently that the environmental crisis is more dire than originally believed. We might have reached a tipping point. Even if we stop producing harmful greenhouse gases immediately, temperatures could continue to rise and ocean levels along with them for the next 1,000 years. How much? The IPPC says by as much as 11 degrees this century with a corresponding rise in ocean levels of nearly 2 feet. Other scientists, such as Britain’s James Lovelock (who is credited with discovering that chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were polluting the atmosphere), say it will be far worse and happen sooner. Both predictions portend drought, starvation and species extinction.