The New Paganism

As many commentators and “global warming skeptics” have observed, climate science has metamorphosed into a religion—or, more accurately, a cult in religious dress. It has its high priests (Al Gore, David Suzuki, James Hansen, Rajendra Pachauri), its sacred texts such as computer models whose inconsistencies and disparities are blithely ignored by the myriads of true believers, its prevailing orthodoxies that cannot safely be questioned or violated, and its Second Ecumenical Council of the Global Warming Vatican (after Kyoto), known as the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Carbon taxes resemble the traffic in Indulgences during the Medieval era as energy sinners buy absolution from a profiteering clergy. A divinity called Gaia now receives the prayers and invocations of a vast sodality of devout worshippers. The new religion is here, a resurgent faith, as George Will writes, “in man-made global warming [which] is now a tissue of assertions impervious to evidence.”

The Bible of the Global Warming campaign has not yet been compiled and authorized. But it is in process of being assembled piecemeal by a swarm of “prophets,” scribes and conclave-like institutions—“a priesthood of experts,” in the words of Patrick Keeney of the Imaginative Education Research Group, “who alone are in a position to adjudicate truth, and who the rest of us must blindly follow.” In particular, James Lovelock deserves special mention as the chief evangelist and apostolic virtuoso of the Green movement. His 1998 The Ages of Gaia effectively introduced the idea of the Great Goddess as the divine incumbent to the empty throne of heaven. The patriarchal god had been cashiered—though the ecclesiastical trimmings have been preserved. Lovelock’s follow-up screed The Revenge of Gaia, published in 2006, consolidated the apotheosis while introducing a note, if not a veritable movie score, of urgency, menace and a sense of apocalyptic deadline. This obviously struck a resonant chord in the modern western sensibility with its lurid premonition of impending planetary disaster.

Lovelock proposes in The Revenge of Gaia that, in the face of imminent catastrophe, “we write a guidebook for our survivors to help them rebuild civilization without repeating too many of our mistakes.” This book would not only be a manual to lead our descendants through the debris of a defunct world—a kind of Maimonidean update of The Guide of the Perplexed—but a new Bible lighting the way to salvation. It would be a book “written on durable paper with long-lasting print” which we would need “to accept and believe in.” Indeed, he compares it to “Tyndale’s Bible, a book of knowledge written with authority” and “splendid” to read. Perhaps it would help us to terraform a world “that could easily be described as Hell: so hot, so deadly that only a handful of the teeming billions now alive will survive.”

Nevertheless, he allows, we still have one last, fading chance to avoid plunging into Hell, if only we recognize the need for “restrictions, rationing and in addition suffer for a while a loss of freedom.” We must put our trust in a sort of clerical synod whom he describes as a “small permanent group of strategists” and who will save us from damnation. Such a consistory would have to be modeled on “the climate agencies of the UN” which, we are told, “have performed magnificently, as the IPCC proves.” The irony is mordant. One wonders what Lovelock would say today. How would he extenuate “the climate agencies of the UN” now that they have been shown to be seething bogs of corruption, engines of fiscal malfeasance and purveyors of spurious data?

There are many things that Lovelock and his fellow Gaianologists do not understand. First of all, when the dictates of faith determine our attempts to manage the natural world, we generally end up doing far more harm than good. Sanctimonious ignorance—or willful suppression of concrete facts—supplants informed research and genuine knowledge. Genuine spirituality then gives way to a profusion of cults, fads, social rituals, fabular constructs, romantic fetishes and rampant hero-worship. Serious conviction is replaced by earnest frivolity and rooted egotism is masked by the fiction of a sublime transmutation. Assuming, of course, that the primary motive for many is not mere self-aggrandizement, the accumulation of power, prestige and lucrative emoluments, of which the IPCC, pace Lovelock, has proven to be one of the chief exemplars on the contemporary scene. It has “performed magnificently” indeed.

Secondly, Gaia is probably the wrong goddess to worship. She is, after Chaos, the most ancient classical divinity, who united in incestuous passion with her son Uranus to produce the race of Titans. And the Titans are remembered for their war against the gods. But her cataclysmic origins, acts and sequels are no impediment to Lovelock’s reflections or, rather, to his saccharine adoration of the Great Goddess. In The Ages of Gaia, he compares Gaia to the Virgin Mary. “What if Mary is another name for Gaia,” he speculates, concluding that “her capacity for virgin birth is no miracle or parthenogenetic aberration…She is of this Universe and, conceivably, a part of God…That is why, for me, Gaia is a religious as well as a scientific concept, and in both spheres it is manageable.” Ay, there’s the rub. And there’s the nonsense.

For the movement of which Lovelock is a principle founder has now come to resemble the Sabbatarian clergy of Victorian England that, in the words of Jerome Hamilton Buckley, author of The Victorian Temper, had “established an authority which its opponents…might not easily defy.” The Sabbatarian rule, Buckley explains, had become an “expression of the cult of respectability” at a time when “the Whig aristocrats [read: liberals, or Democrats] were rapidly dissipating their material resources.” So-called “Climate Science” today has devolved, to transpose Buckley’s words, into “an overt Sunday-school morality” accompanied by a rigid intolerance that conceals “a basic ethical uncertainty.”

The similarities are striking: autocratic control of comportment and belief, immense self-righteousness, dubious moral foundations, the reckless squandering of funds. The difference is that the divinity we now venerate is not God the Father who is personally involved in the destiny of mankind but the incarnation of a pagan supremacy who cares nothing for human activity, whether reverent or invasive. Gaia is a false god (or goddess), utterly devoid of the values we affect to cherish and who confers neither obligation nor love upon us. We assign our own maudlin affectations to the goddess, idealizing that which has no interest in us whatsoever and which cannot open and sustain a dialogue with the human soul.

In actuality, we have come to revere a cold, deterministic and solipsistic deity more at home in the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans than in the spirit or psyche of modern man. She represents both a misunderstanding and a betrayal, a deity we have sentimentalized as a nurturing mother but who is only a displacement of our own self-infatuation, as the pagan gods were essentially the embodiments of the traits and attributes of their votaries. What we are witnessing is a form of self-worship, and the sense of our own ostensible planetary credentials is fueled by a quasi-religious dementia that operates in defiance of critical facts. The new theology is only a variant of the Sabbatarian gospel catering mainly to windy enthusiasts and canonical fanatics while imposing a strict regime of censorship upon agnostics and dissenters.

Although the metaphors and, let’s say, cosmetic properties that cluster around the global warming delirium owe their provenance to Judeo-Christian devotional literature and puritanical conviction, the substance of the movement is essentially a form of pagan idolatry. This appears to be the only way a secular culture which denies its heritage, yet cannot evade it, is able to justify and affirm its need for redemptive consummation, signifying a hunger for spiritual nourishment that goes otherwise unsatisfied. The urge to belong to something that is numinous, to form a community of believers, to parrot a confession and join a hieratic collective is almost impossible to resist. Like James Lovelock and a kindred host of officious doomsayers, we find ourselves subject to a pervasive fever inspired by an apocryphal religious groundswell. And so we are now Gaia’s obedient, exalted and fearful children.

Welcome to the new paganism.

  • godman

    are you so stupid ,you just hav not got a clue have you….pagans we have been around along time, and will still continue to be so. so , merry meet to you and merry well, ye shall be,and blessed be shall we ever merry meet…………….

  • Frank(ly) M'Dear


    Please take your meds.

  • Alex Kovnat

    Its been my assertion for a long time now, that if you hate the automobile or for that matter, our western way of life generally (i.e. air conditioning in the summer) for other reasons (i.e., if you have a hair shirt kind of mentality), you are going to have a very intense emotional vested interest in the whole idea of the world coming to an end from global warming.

    The way some global warming enthusiasts talk, if there are snowstorms and ice storms, its due to global warming. If on the other hand we were to have a very mild winter, that's due to global warming. If we have too much rain or snow, its because of global warming. If on the other hand we were to have too little precipitation, that's due to global warming. Its like every uncongeniality in the weather, is some deity's punishment for driving SUV's or otherwise living high on the hog.

  • Democracy First

    As one columnist pointed out, at the same time some politicians were blaming global warming for snowstorms in the east, another was blaming global warming for the dearth of snow in Vancouver. As you say, alarmists want it both ways.

  • JosephWiess

    A cult? Maybe, more like a fringe druid sect. So far, I reserve the word cult for those fringe religions that demand death sacrifices of women and children, and urge boys to strap bombs to their chests and blow themselves up, while the men sit in tents and watch.

    If anything, you could call global warming a misguided business. Since the carbon credits have to be sold and bought.

    • William_Z

      Actually, the hysteria over Global Warming/Climate Change has recently lead to murder and suicide.

      Also, in English, women have gotten sterilized to ‘save the environment.”

      Is this enough to, at least begin, fitting your definition?

      • myofba

        Idiots stupid enough to act this way do us a favor by removing their DNA from the gene pool.

    • poop

      Or require boys to take off their pants and pray to god with the preacher in their mouth. KILL ALL CHRISIANS, THEN AS THE MUSLIMS TO HELP US FINISH OFF THE JEWS!!!!

      The funny thing is that I think Nazi's should all be killed, too.

      Only Christians should be posted up and gutted, like the old days.

  • Moonlion

    Starting off, I did not understand if you were talking against policies that combat Global Warming or if you were talking against Pagans.

    If it was on the first item, it is just one more example how blatantly ignorant some Americans (I am writing from Europe) can be when it comes to anything that might endanger the "American" way of life. I am father of two kids and I really would like them to have some kind of planet to live on in, let's say, 20 years time. Obviously that you either don't care about that or you don't have kids.

    Pagans honor Earth and Nature long before there was Christianity. Having said that, wouldn't it have been for an important frase of the Bible (Then God said, 'Let us make a man—someone like ourselves, to be the master of all life upon the earth and in the skies and in the seas.' – Genesis 1:26) probably our view of Mother Earth and Nature would be completely different and our world a better place, at least ecologically. Man is not master of all life on Earth: we are just passing-by guests and should behave like that.

    • Supertx

      The "American" way of life has never called for planet destruction….but neither should decisions be made based on the junk science of those who are using us all for financial gain and/or power and control.
      While they try to sell us on falsehoods, we could easily be doing some real things to make a difference, i.e. packaging of products, which is a huge waste, yet I never hear anyone address it. People carry their little green shopping totes and buy a bagful of products packaged in unnecessary plastic, boxes, etc. Hypocritical? I'd say yes. Start making changes in your own back yard doing things that make common sense.

    • tarleton

      You are a typical Euopeon who has bought the'' party line'' , hook , line and sinker by listening to the GW rubbish….only 20 years left eh?… really must stop believing that eco twitt, Algore…..who is a well know fool here in the US
      So it;s all Americas fault again…first , the Cold war , then the gulf War and now Global Warming
      I've had to read your posting three times to appreciate it's vacuus nonsense…..Algore should move to Europe … all deserve him

    • BringItOn

      Supertx & Tarleton & the myriads more…..

      Actually not just Europe, the rest of the WORLD thinks of Americans (in general) as jerks. Pull your head of the sand, we don't respect your policies at home, we don't respect your policies abroad, a large proportion of your population is ignorant and blinded by business, media & politics. Everyone plays up to the US because of the fortuitous position your markets hold for our financial success.

      AND now that you are OWNED by China just about, your reign is over. Hail to the new king.

      • Rifleman

        Lol, you euros always have to be ruled by someone because you can't think or act for yourselves. You'll always be on your knees for someone.

    • tarleton

      It's clear to me that you're another Eurotrash imbecile and have got ,not a clue

    • Rifleman

      Did you miss it moonb- er, lion? The world ended in the early 90's, like those moonbat environuts in the 70's predicted, and this is just a dream. You blindly assume your efforts do more good than harm no matter what extreme you take them to.

      You're just as likely (and I'd say more so looking at what passes for modern forestry) to wreck the environment and lead to the extinction of mankind, by unduly retarding technological progress. Judging the cost against the benefit isn't ignorant, being scammed by a bunch of obvious cons is.

      Yea Europe was all peace, love, and environmental sustainability before those darn Christians and Jews showed up.

  • Democracy First

    Ypu assume global warming not only to be real, but anthropogenic. Both are dubious. And the solutions the left calls for conveniently raise taxes, grow government and empowers the UN.

    If you want to win conservatives over:
    1) Admit the science isn't settled
    2) Advocate for real, verifiable science to prove or disprove the theory
    3) Don't advocate left wing solutions that serve left wing political goals

  • boston

    Moonbat or I am sorry moonlion can you please name one problem caused by"global warming" to me stupid and ignorant american,so i can switch from my american way of life to your enlighten european?

  • USMCSniper

    Religion in any form from Pagamism, Christianity or Gia worship is simply a dishonest attempt at a comprehensive view of the universe and our place in it as a species.

    Of course the Holy Father of the Church of Climate Catastrophe, Al Gore now claims that the blizzards that have walloped the Northeast in recent weeks are also proof of global warming. “Climate change causes more frequent and severe snowstorms,’’ he posted on his blog last month.

    Gore is a True Believer; his climate hyperbole is less a matter of science than of faith. In almost messianic terms, he urges Congress to sharply restrain Americans’ access to energy. “What is at stake,’’ he writes, “is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption.’’

    But while Gore prays for redemption, the pews in the Church of Climate Catastrophe are gradually emptying.

    • Larry Butler

      I don't think he's a believer. If he was, he wouldn't have bought that $4M condo in downtown San Francisco that his prediction puts about 25 feet under the new ocean level. No, I don't think Gore is anything but a con man, a charlatan after the carbon money trail.

  • tarleton

    This is an excellent column ,by one of my favorite writers , who is ,as usual very perceptive and correct
    Yes , we are witnessing the spread of a new religion , maybe the fastest growing religion in the Western world…high tech paganism or animism from the Third world dressed up in modern clothes.
    Algor is the ''high priest'' with his bogus vision of the apocalypse and his carbon creddits are the equiverlent of indulgences that sparked the Reformation
    His Greenshirt supporters have not quite written the ''holy book'' , but their holy green symbol is clearly the WINDTURBINE and will fit nicely as a shoulder patch on their greenshirts
    All we need now is an incorruptible , honest and brave scientist to play the role of a Martin Luther………fini Algore

  • connie dobbs

    Well, DUH. Christianity is dead, bury it already. There are much better ways to cope with life than to pray to some 6000 year old Jewish superstition. It's not real, people, get over yourselves. If your myth was real, the world would have ended a LONG long time ago. You had your chance, you fucked up everything. From conversion by the sword in the 1st millennium to your inquisitions and god-wars in the 2nd, you've laid a waste upon this planet with your violence, hatred, ignorance, and out-and-out LIES. You're now done, and you will NEVER EVER EVER GET POWER BACK. It will erode and erode and erode until Christianity is as much a memory as those who worship Zeus and Mithra. And there's NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT because everyone else, you know, the ones who don't believe in your bull, are much much more aware than you. The only weapon you have is violence, and I suggest – no I URGE you to use it again, just so the people can see what you are REALLY all about.

    Oh, yes, and the word you are looking for is "Humanism", not paganism.

    • tarleton

      Oh ! ….another very angry Atheist /pagan who can not stand to have her beliefs ridiculed…….true believers are always the most angry when their vision turns out to be bogus…..another God that failed
      Poor angry Connie doesn't seem to see the rich irony in her posting…..I urge you to take your meds before you become dangerous to yourself or your long suffering neigbors
      I guess this is what we could call a flying visit…..just long enough to drop a few bombs and get out of Dodge
      I've had to read your posting three times to convince myself that it's real

    • tarleton

      I've had to stand back and take a deep breath before reading it for the fourth time
      …..this posting should be framed and kept for posterity…….talk about drive by shooters

    • tarleton

      Connie …you sound like the dead Madelyn O'hare resurected from the grave to give one lasting parting shot to the demonic Christians……this is unbelievable ….you must be having a bad hair day !
      I've just read your posting for the fifth time……it's truly unbelievable !

      My ribs are hurting , I've laughed so much !

  • The_Inquisitor

    "Carbon taxes resemble the traffic in Indulgences during the Medieval era as energy sinners buy absolution from a profiteering clergy."

    And with the same results.

    Excellent analogy.

  • Grateful Living

    Wow – this is a very well written article.
    I found it captivating.
    Thanks you David Solway… keep up the good work.

  • fed up one

    What were those dinosaurs driving (big SUVs) that caused the last global warming?

  • tarleton

    The greenshirts have their High Priest in Algore with his messianic vision of the coming apocalypse and they're clearly working on their ''holy book'' ….all they need now is their ''holy symbol''….hmmm……of course it's the holy windturbine…;s similar to the ''cross'' and can be colored green…….PERFECT !

  • tarleton

    Here in Britain , the landscape is littered with gigantic ,expensive wind turbines , like something from H G Wells ''War of the Worlds''…..and guess what ?….they're virtually useless
    More relics from the God that failed

    • Peachey

      In California we also have the wind turbines in less populated areas. Many of them are no longer in use as it has been discovered that the cost of maintenance is higher in cost than the electricity generated. Just ask T Bone Pickens about the boat load of wind turbines that he is stuck with.

  • tarleton

    Mr Sollway
    I agree completely that this is a substitue religion and a return of paganism with it's holy book , holy symbol and apocalyptic vision , but the only thing that is missing are the true believers searching for a heretic to burn…….oh , here comes Connie Dobbs !

    • Philip Gee

      Clever, very clever.

  • Trekker

    Paganism and Gaia worship are the new religions whether we like it or not.The world isn't coming to an end ,and humanity isn't either, but URBANITY sure is!

  • Ez4moi

    Worship of creation rather than the creator cannot end well. When face to face with God, will people say, "I liked your stuff."

  • Erebus

    Ultimately, it really doesn't matter what you beleive. In the unknowing end we all come here into this world, seeking answers to a truth beyond our ability to concieve preaching this and that. Bullshit prophesies from the begining to 2012 and beyond. We live here,we die here. Let's say we know when the end comes,you can just sit and pray or face the fact of reality. There's always gonna be a begining and an end. I am a pagan in many ways and politicians are no spiritual authority over me nor anyone else for that matter. Afterall, it's your reality,your life,and your responsibility in dealing with your own issues. Not me nor anyone else. GROW UP PEOPLE!!!

    • Mary

      Through all our suffering we must protect nature.We must protect nature in its virginal state.Without nature we are nothing. Without nature we have nothing. Nature gives us something beyond belief. We, as humans must live without destroying nature, without causing extinction to species. If we do not do this we are nothing.

  • Larry Butler

    As we approach 30 years since the HIV = AIDS religion Robert Gallo, its Pope enriching himself and forbidding anyone from dissenting, with no promised vaccine because AIDS patients don't all have HIV, a harmless, very old passenger virus.

    AGW has the same MO, but a different set of clergy, than HIV/AIDS, grabbing for that funding dollar at all costs, no matter how many are trampled, ruined or dead in the process.

  • Mary

    Above all we must protect nature. Nature is our !sine qua non of existence!. Without nature we are nothing.Without nature we have nothing. The human race MUST radically change its ways. I believe in Ya, Ya – Jaweh, Ya, Jehovah.