Do You Swear?

During the Lord Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, He defined God’s standards for a righteous life. He cited common understandings for principled living and then raised the bar. Among these principles, He declared swearing (i.e., oath taking) off-limits.

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’

But I say to you, do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5:33-37 English Standard Version (ESV)

Specifically, Christ prohibits using God’s name (or euphemisms for it) to bolster our sincerity in what we promise or declare to others and to God.

John Calvin comments:

You shall not swear falsely… The man who perjures himself is not the only person who takes the name of God in vain, (Exodus 20:7). He does so, who idly and contemptuously pronounces the name of God on trivial occasions, or in ordinary conversation.

Calvin points out that some have used the Lord’s command to reject all vows. He says they’re mistaken:

Do not take an oath at all… His statement amounts to this, that there are other ways of “taking the name of God in vain,” besides perjury; and, therefore, that we ought to refrain from allowing ourselves the liberty of unnecessary swearing: for, when there are just reasons to demand it, the law not only permits, but expressly commands us to swear.

Stating the obvious, Calvin concludes:

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ Christ now prescribes… that men act towards each other sincerely and honestly… Fairness and honesty in our words are, therefore, demanded by Christ, that there may be no longer any occasion for an oath.

And James, in his letter to the churches, echoed his Lord’s admonition:

But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. James 5:12 (ESV)

Therefore, let us speak truth, one to another.

Us – Michael Been, The Best of The Call

Climate Changiness

Please forgive this Hollywood conceit: “The arrogance of man is thinking nature is under our control, and not the other way around.” Actually, the Lord Jesus Christ is in control but we don’t even believe the Hollywood metaphor, so…

Godzilla – Asia Trailer [HD]

It’s not as if there was some gathering storm on the horizon.

5/18/14 Wright to Newcastle, WY Supercell Time-Lapse

Of course, that’s not what some would have you believe.

Chris Mooney’s MJ article ‘This Ice Sheet Will Unleash a Global Superstorm Sandy That Never Ends’ explains that glaciologist Richard Alley claims losing West Antarctica would produce 10 feet of sea level rise in coming centuries. That’s comparable to the flooding from Sandy—but permanent.

The NY Times article titled ‘Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt’ starts:

A large section of the mighty West Antarctica ice sheet has begun falling apart and its continued melting now appears to be unstoppable, two groups of scientists reported on Monday. If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable…

Wait for it

…in coming centuries.

However, the Economist explains more carefully:

Glaciologists use the word “collapse” to describe a shift towards an irretrievable loss of an ice sheet. There is, reckons Dr Joughin, probably nothing that can now be done to save the Thwaites glacier. Much of the coverage of the new studies, though, suggests there will be a collapse in the everyday, imminent sense of the word.

Dr Joughin’s models predict that once the loss of ice from the Thwaites glacier really gets going, it may be enough to raise sea levels by a further 1mm a year by itself. But they also predict that this will not start to happen for at least another 200 years—and perhaps much longer than that. Bad news, then, but not quite a collapse—or at least, not on human timescales.

But what’s the worst that can happen?

Quoted in a WSJ opinion article, Secretary Kerry said, while addressing graduates of Boston College,

If we make the necessary efforts to address this challenge—and supposing I’m wrong or scientists are wrong, 97% of them all wrong—supposing they are, what’s the worst that can happen? …We put millions of people to work transitioning our energy, creating new and renewable and alternative; we make life healthier because we have less particulates in the air and cleaner air and more health; we give ourselves greater security through greater energy independence—that’s the downside.

The WSJ opinion author says:

The “worst that can happen” is that we spend trillions of dollars trying to solve a problem that we can’t do anything to stop; that we misallocate scarce resources in a way that slows economic growth; that slower growth leads to less economic opportunity for Boston College grads and especially the world’s poor, and that America and the world become much less wealthy and technologically advanced than we would otherwise. All of which would make the world less able to cope with the costs of climate change if Mr. Kerry is right.

And 97% of scientists are agreed so, from a postmodern perspective, it must be settled. I bet 99 and 44/100 percent believed in the Aether before Einstein’s special relativity was verified (Aether is on the march again, though; a relativistic Aether this time).

However, let’s not forget: Truth does not depend on man’s theories, only his theories do.

The climate change controversy seems to be a case of agnotology, the study of how ignorance arises via circulation of misinformation calculated to mislead. Quoting from the abstract for ‘Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: A Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change’

Agnotology, then, is a two-edged sword since either side in a debate may claim that general ignorance arises from misinformation allegedly circulated by the other. Significant questions about anthropogenic influences on climate remain. Therefore, Legates et al. appropriately asserted that partisan presentations of controversies stifle debate and have no place in education.

In the effort to stem climate change, the current administration has issued new federal limits on greenhouse-gas emissions.

Under the rule, states will be given a wide menu of policy options to achieve the pollution cuts. Rather than immediately shutting down coal plants, states would be allowed to reduce emissions by making changes across their electricity systems — by installing new wind and solar generation or energy-efficiency technology, and by starting or joining state and regional “cap and trade” programs, in which states agree to cap carbon pollution and buy and sell permits to pollute.

The Washington Post adds:

Under the draft rule, the EPA would let states and utilities meet the new standard with different approaches mixing four options including energy efficiency, shifting from coal to natural gas, investing in renewable energy and making power plant upgrades. Other compliance methods could include offering discounts to encourage consumers to shift electricity use to off-peak hours.

WSJ comments on the political fallout:

Republicans are using the proposed rule to assert that Democrats will raise energy costs and kill jobs, and that carbon restrictions are futile in the absence of similar action by China and other large polluting nations…

While Democrats are more vocal than Republicans in saying that man-made climate change is a problem, some in energy-producing states are wary of backing a government response…

Additional WSJ commentary claims large adverse economic impact for small climate improvement:

The EPA claims to be targeting “polluters,” but the government is essentially creating an artificial scarcity in carbon energy. Scarcities mean higher prices, which will hit the poor far harder than they will the anticarbon crusaders who live in Pacific Heights. The lowest 10% of earners pay three times as much as a share of their income for electricity compared to the middle class. If you want more inequality, this is an ideal way to ensure it.

and

The irony is that all the damage will do nothing for climate change. Based on the EPA’s own carbon accounting, shutting down every coal-fired power plant tomorrow and replacing them with zero-carbon sources would reduce the Earth’s temperature by about one-twentieth of a degree Fahrenheit in a hundred years.

And, of course, China is following suit with their own climate change measures. At least, that is, until their people rebel at the resulting deprivations.

What will we do if our people rebel? Well, we’ve got restrictions against what happened in China twenty-five years ago.

Except, of course, until we don’t.

Then there’s the whole issue of blatant racism. Caleb S. Rossiter explains in his opinion article ‘Sacrificing Africa for Climate Change.’

…Each American accounts for 20 times the emissions of each African. We [America] are not rationing our electricity. Why should Africa, which needs electricity for the sort of income-producing enterprises and infrastructure that help improve life expectancy? The average in Africa is 59 years—in America it’s 79. Increased access to electricity was crucial in China’s growth, which raised life expectancy to 75 today from 59 in 1968.

From a WSJ review of Robert Bryce’s new book Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper:

“For the vast majority of the world’s population,” Mr. Bryce argues, “the cheapest and most reliable forms of energy are, and will continue to be, hydrocarbons.” Anyone who thinks that he is doing the world a favor by compelling the switch from fossil fuels to wind and solar is consigning billions of people to a life of poverty and darkness.

Or there’s geoengineering on your own terms. What could go wrong with that?

We are meant to live peaceful and quiet lives, practicing true equity, and not using the poor (and soon to be poor) as pawns. But, as Calvin (no, the one from the Calvin and Hobbes comic) proves, we are all wet when we think we are in control.