Americans believe in science. Generally, most of us have faith in medicine. A majority of Americans, though ever-thinning, tell pollsters they're religious and yet we've reached virtual consensus about going to the hospital when we're sick. We are, in some cases, obligated by law to seek medical care. Courts have found the denial of medical care to children, when it results in their death, to be a crime. In the eyes of the law, science trumps religious fervor.
In June, Catherine and Herbert Schaible, a Philadelphia couple, were charged with third degree murder after one of their children, for the second time, died from an infection simple antibiotics could have cured. They were given probation after the first child died. Now, they're facing a maximum of 50 years in prison.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said of the case, "Instead of caring and nurturing him, they ultimately caused his death by praying over his body instead of taking him to the doctor."
We believe as a culture -- as a community -- that if science, in the form of medical care, can improve and prolong life then we're required to enable it to do so. People of faith can concede God gave us medicine and we can all forgo the horrors of life before penicillin and aspirin. Zero controversy.
See, the Schaibles and hundreds of parents like them think pneumonia and other illnesses stem from a lack of faith, a life of sin. They're bacteria deniers. As a constitutional government we don't care what they believe until they're culpable in a child's death (in this case two deaths). Our government believes in science over Biblical diagnosis.
So it is therefore not a stretch, not in any way contentious or unreasonable, to simply accept climate change as a reality for one simple reason: It's science and we believe in science.
There are two types of climate change deniers: those who take a faith-based exemption citing God's divine plan, and those on energy company payrolls.
Jim Hacket, CEO of Anadarko Petroleum, said, "We don't believe for a minute that man should have the hubris to believe that God's circle of vapor is determined by our own emissions." The RNC's 2012 platform says climate change isn't as much a concern as terrorism, despite extreme weather killing exponentially more Americans in the last decade than terrorism.
Rush Limbaugh sums up their "thinking" thusly: "If you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in manmade global warming."
There are those who will always err on the side of faith and those who will always err on the side of pollution. These seemingly strange bedfellows are bromancing in the GOP, so Republicans get to evangelize the wondrous technology of energy while denying science based on religious cherry-picking.
I call this The Creationist with an iPhone Paradox: Science is amazing unless it disagrees with my convictions. Then it's questionable.
Scientists believe humans are the cause of global warming and that it's happening right now. An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change draft summary, to be released shortly at the United Nations, says it's nearly certain our climate is being altered by our fossil fuel consumption. The New York Times writes, "The report emphasizes that the basic facts about future climate change are more established than ever, justifying the rise in global concern. It also reiterates that the consequences of escalating emissions are likely to be profound."
If we can justify utilizing doctors, vaccinations and contact lenses instead of opting to pray the problem away, we can implement some of the less popular solutions for mitigating climate change.
We don't get to just trust science to improve human life and then reject science when it conflicts with oil company profits.
We have to stop giving credence to the Christian Scientists of climate. If faith-healing is not an acceptable form of medical treatment, why should we accept it as an energy plan?
The answer? We shouldn't.
Nationally syndicated columnist TINA DUPUY
is an award-winning writer and the editor-in-chief