A Sept. 30 letter, “Bad theology,” takes issue with another letter for claiming God controls everything, including the weather, so there is nothing humans can do about it. The letter writer accepts overwhelming scientific evidence that human behavior is at least partly responsible for detrimental climate change, and that there are actions we can take to lessen future damage. I agree.
However, the writer is also practicing bad theology when he claims science is a gift from the creator. That reminds me of people who survive delicate surgical operations and immediately give credit to God, rather than to the skilled doctors who perform the procedure.
As an atheist, do I have the right to comment on bad theology? The word “theology” comes from two Greek words that combined mean “the study of God.” By that definition, I think there is nothing to study. But if you broaden the definition to “the study of words about God,” then I consider myself a theologian, one who has debated numerous other theologians on topics like God’s existence and whether we can be moral without having a belief in God.
Another article in the Sept. 30 paper was about Pope Francis who, like the letter writer, accepts the scientific evidence that humans play a role in climate change. But that article was about what many people would consider not only bad theology but also incredibly immoral theology. In his latest response to the child abuse and cover-up scandal roiling his papacy, Pope Francis asked for daily prayers for what he calls “attacks by the devil.”
Comedian Flip Wilson’s character, Geraldine, always excused her bad behavior with, “The devil made me do it.” But Pope Francis using that excuse is no joke. We should not credit God for our accomplishments or blame Satan for our failures. We should take personal responsibility for our actions. Anything less ranges from bad theology to inexcusable criminal behavior.