Once again: If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to download or stream my fourth (and so far, I think, best) Point of Inquiry program–with Eli Kintisch on the subject of geoengineering. All this week on the blog, I’m going to be discussing issues raised on the show–so having heard it will be kind of an essential baseline.
I’m always trying to become a better interviewer, so with this next post, I want to zoom in on an area where I failed to press my interview subject as I probably should have. And that is the relationship between religious beliefs and opposition to geoengineering.
At around minute 9:15, I asked Eli about religious opposition to geoengineering–basically, about the folks who say that we shouldn’t “play God.” He gave a very detailed answer, essentially signaling that, hey, yeah, this is a lot like genetically modified foods–some people think the impulse to interfere with “nature,” to remake it in the way that only “God” is supposed to do, is wrong.
I have no doubt this impulse is out there. But I don’t find it to be at all a rational argument, or a sound basis for public policy. When it comes to the genetics of plants, or the global environment, humans have already been “playing God” throughout the ages–bringing about vast and significant changes. If the only question is whether this interference is intentional or not, then I don’t find it to be a theologically relevant distinction.
So I should have pressed Kintisch on whether this is really a legitimate argument to make–that we shouldn’t “play God.” I mean, yeah, it’s out there; and yeah, it’s rhetorically powerful. But that doesn’t mean we should accept it. I actually find the careful, consequentialist reasoning of the scientists who tilt towards at least studying geoengineering to be much more intellectually rigorous and convincing.
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- Chris Mooney: Oakshottian « The Lure | April 13, 2010