No one yet knows what the final impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be. Key questions to which we do not yet have answers include the following,
- How long will the pandemic last?
- When will the spread of the infection die down?
- Will it decline to zero, i.e., will it disappear, or will there be a constant case load such as we see with the flu and the common cold?
- Will there be second and third waves, such as happened in the flu pandemic of 1918?
- How many people will be infected?
- What percentage of those infected will die or suffer long-term health effects?
But even at this stage people are discussing how the pandemic will affect people’s attitude with regard to climate change and other Age of Limits issues. In coming posts I will offer a few thoughts on this topic.
My first reaction is to do with the third of the theological points that I have proposed in previous posts, which is Live within the biosphere (Church Leadership). We read the following words in Genesis 9:1-3.
Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.”
We have followed these commandments all too successfully. We have been fruitful and have increased in number, the animal kingdom lives in dread of us, and we have been given everything. And what a mess we have made of our environment.
Even those who believe that they are acting responsibility with regard to God’s creation fall into this trap. For example, many churches have committees that use terms such as ‘Care of God’s Creation’ to describe their work and mission. But such phrases suggest that we are in control of what goes on in the natural world. It suggests that we are outside nature, not part of it.
Readings that are more appropriate for the world that we are entering are from Ecclesiastes 1:5-7 and John 3:8.
The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
So, the first lesson that we can draw from the current pandemic is that we need to remember that we are not in control of the environment: “Nature Bats Last”.
(The title of this post is taken from the blog published by Guy McPherson. Of all the people who write on Age of Limits issues he must be the most extreme. He says, “Habitat for human animals is disappearing throughout the world, and abrupt climate change has barely begun. In the near future, habitat for Home sapiens will be gone. Shortly thereafter, all humans will die.”)