May 8, 2013

Those Who Do Not Believe We Will Have a Future Should Not Be Placed in Charge of It

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.
The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Natural resources and the environment. Debt and the economy. The long-term costs of war on a nation's standing in the world and future diplomatic efforts. The food and water supply. The sort of the world we are leaving to future generations. There just a few of the things about which most sane people are at least somewhat concerned. But what if absolutely none of it mattered because the world was going to end soon? What if there was no point in being future-oriented because the entire show was about to come to an end?

Among the many things I find toxic about evangelical fundamentalist Christianity, one that consistently rises to the top of the list is the manner in which the belief that we are living in the "end times" undermines the efforts of those who are trying to improve our world. Ask yourself what you would do differently if you truly believed that the world was going to end in your lifetime. You sure as hell wouldn't worry about the environment, saving for your children's future, your legacy, or much of anything else, would you?

Hemant Mehta (Friendly Atheist) brings us the personification of this sort of nonsense in the form of evangelical Christian pastor Mark Driscoll. Regardless of whether Driscoll was joking, the fact is that many evangelical fundamentalist Christians do believe this sort of thing. And best of all, we in the U.S. are fairly notorious for electing them to Congress and giving them the task of making policy decisions on our behalf.

I am willing to accept that reasonable people can differ in their vision of an ideal future. Your vision of the sort of world you want for your children and grandchildren may be quite different from mine, and that is fine. What is not fine are those who turn their backs on the future because they do not believe there will be one. Keeping them out of power so they cannot implement their destructive policies may just be the closest thing we in the reality-based community have to a "sacred" duty in the sense that it ought to transcend politics. After all, it is our future that is at stake.

I have never been one to suggest something like a litmus test for evaluating politicians. I know many on the left use a candidate's position on reproductive freedom as their litmus test and many on the right use a candidate's position on the Second Amendment as theirs. I suppose if I had one it would have to involve the amount of time the candidate thought our world had left before the apocalypse described in whatever "holy" text he or she accepted. I can think of no circumstances under which someone who did not believe we had a future should be placed in charge of it.

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