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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

A Miracle in a White Dress

A Miracle in a White Dress

Author: Reilly Capps/Saturday, January 3, 2015/Categories: climate change

If a person were religious -- and not allergic to cliches -- she might say that what is about to happen at the Vatican is a miracle. 

Of course, there probably aren't any miracles, unless you count the miracles of nature that happen every second in every cell in every living thing. But if you're talking giant miracles, put down your hymnal and listen to this: the most anti-science organization in history, the organization that killed person after person for speaking original thoughts about nature -- that burned Giordano Bruno for saying that the universe was large or infinite, that arrested Galileo for being awesome, that retarded the acceptance of evolution -- is about to (possibly) change the game on climate change, as the Pontifex Maximus, the Vicar of Christ, the heir to the Throne of St. Peter, the dude with glasses so dorky no Des Moines insurance salesman would buy them from Goodwill, Pope Francis, is about to say that climate change is real and dangerous and threatens all of God's little children. 

How will the world's 1.2 billion Catholics respond? What will it mean when a sixth of the world's population has been told by a man who cannot make a mistake that they ought to use less carbon? Will other religions follow suit? Will even Republicans come on board? 

I decided to take a look at the Vatican's science arm, just to see what's up in the scientific thinking of the One True Church (registered trademark). The main science institution of the church is the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and the website says some truly remarkable things, things that are not boneheadedly, stultifyingly, forehead-slammingly wrong. Among them: 

For example, a major paper on climate change, here,, says that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old! This is in direct contradiction to what I was told my entire youth as a Catholic, which was that the Earth began on Sunday, October 23, 4004 B.C. (Really. They told me this over and over. Although, even before I could read, I somehow sensed that this was, for lack of a better term, utter bullshit.)

The paper says: "the ancestors of plants, terrestrial invertebrates." Ancestors! Meaning: evolution! Meaning: sorry about the Scopes Monkey Trial, ya'll! 

It says: "Recognizable human beings, originating in Africa, first appeared about two million years ago." What!? Meaning: no Garden of Eden. Meaning: no Adam. No Eve. No talking snake. Meaning: reality. Finally! After two thousand years, the Church embraces a few slices of reality. 

Il papa hasn't released his much anticipated speech on climate change, which he is said to want to deliver before the United Nations, but already he's throwing bombs, by which I mean embracing a few more slices of reality. He said last year, "Climate change, the loss of diversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness." 

Halleluia. I can't wait for this speech. It would be a miracle, if miracles were real. 

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