Of course if you are in the U.S. you know that life is all a buzz because the Pope is here. Democrats are happy, Republicans are mad, life can’t get better for us liberals right?
Now don’t get me wrong…I think this pope is miles ahead of popes in the past and I really love his positive messages about doing something about climate change, helping refugees, and taking care of the poor. But….
On the topic of climate change, there this group, let’s call them a hell of a lot of scientists across numerous scientific disciplines who have been saying we need to do something about climate change. But if the Pope says, then we better start listening.
There are a large group of people who feel great compassion for the poor and already believe we should be helping them. The Pope says we should help them and so now we better start listening.
There are a lot of people who think we need to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Syria better. The Pope has made it clear we must help, so now we better start listening.
And look, I get it to a certain point, because there is a large portion of this country who only start to take things seriously when it is said by religious authority, but that doesn’t mean we should really be happy about it.
Secular humanists and those that value the scientific method as the best way to try and understand how the universe works are years ahead of the church on these kinds of issues and yet nothing can be done about it until the Pope says to do something about it?
But here is the thing, the Pope is right, but there is nothing about his religion beliefs that are germane to the issues he speaks of. Helping the poor is a matter of acting out of our natural capacity to feel empathy, it speaks to equality, and human rights. There is nothing divine about it. Doing something about climate change has nothing to do with the story of Jesus Christ. Once again it is being proactive about reducing suffering and listening to what 1000’s of scientists are saying who have spent years and years researching changes to our environment. If there was no Pope and no God this would all still be the right thing to do, because why let people suffer?
So I’m happy that the Pope is saying all these things, but there are many among you have been saying these things all along. Intelligent and compassionate people. They aren’t called the Pope but maybe they are worth listening to as well. To me it’s a bit sad that we have to look to a man who says many things other have said all along, but just because he is the Pope it becomes relevant.
It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people… Who indeed could afford to ignore science today? At every turn we have to seek its aid … the future belongs to science and those who make friends with science. – Jawaharlal Nehru – 1961