From the “He said what” category where the claim results in jaws dropping in utter disbelief, the following gem has popped up this past week from Pastor Shane Vaughn. To be honest, this did not shock me, nor did it anger or upset me. My actual response was laughter. The claim is so utterly bizarre that you do have to seriously wonder if this is just a satire piece from Saturday Night Live.
First Question: Who is this guy?
Shane Vaughan is a small-town Mississippi preacher who practises the fine art of promoting utterly absurd and completely ridiculous stuff on YouTube. His stance on many things gains attention, but also lots of clicks and so this is a very nice revenue stream of income.
Viral YouTube clips are simply his latest way to earn income. In this case it is wholly and completely legal, so he will happily say weird stuff just for the clicks.
Second Question: Did he really make this claim or is it something reported to just discredit him?
He really did say it.
I’m not exactly inclined to link directly to his YouTube channel and give him more clicks, so I found a way around that. Here is the extract of him making this claim via an clip created and hosted by RightWingWatch on Vimeo …
Here is a brief transcript …
“Climate change is not scientific,” Vaughn said. “It is a religion. It is an anti-Christ religion that has taken over the minds of the world. In today’s lesson, I’m going to prove to you from God’s word that it is a sin to believe in the ideology and the religion of climate change.”
“Satan has deceived the whole world,” he added. “If you believe that mankind is causing climate change, you’re deceived by Satan. Do you know that the American West is withering as I speak to you right now? California is withering. Have you seen the levels of the lakes there? Folks, wake up America! Return to your God. Submit to Yahweh. Obey his commandments. Keep his sabbath holy. Give him his tithe. Walk circumspectly before him. Oh, hallelujah.”
“God causes these conditions,” Vaughn continued. “He controls the rain, the droughts, the famines, the floods. Do you know why we want to believe that climate change does this? It gives us the power. You scientists from the pits of Hell, how dare you take from Yahweh the sovereign right over the weather that he alone claims and he alone controls, you demonic demons from the cesspools of the abyss of Hell!”
The “Logic” of Shane Vaughn
As for myself, I also don’t “believe” in Climate Change, it is not an article of faith. I do however accept the overwhelming evidence that verifies that it really is happening.
For Shane, it is supposedly a religious belief.
Despite rejecting the evidence, Shane proceeds to cite an example of what is actually happening – The Drought in the US West.
He then claims that the drought can be resolved by people simply changing their beliefs to align with his specific variation of belief.
This is literally Palaeolithic thinking. The essence of it all is this. Bad stuff is happening because the Gods are angry. To sort it all out we must appease the Gods. In this case he would very much like us to perform a sacrifice and place upon a metaphorical altar our common sense, reason, our understanding of why things are the way they are, all the evidence, and burn it all to make his interpretation of God happy again.
It is so laughably silly that you do have to seriously wonder if he actually believes this or if he is simply playing the role of Christian Shock Jock to get the clicks. To be honest I don’t really know, but his background in fraud does lead me to strongly suspect that he generates such rhetoric to gain attention, influence, and income.
Does such Rhetoric really work?
For some, yes it does.
Humans generally have two ways of responding to things. We either consider things analytically or we consider things Intuitively. We all do a bit of both and most of us generally operate intuitively for many things.
For those that consider him to be part of their group, his words will be embraced uncritically.
Shane is pressing hot emotional buttons and offers easy answers for people that lean more towards emotional responses. It is inevitable that some will indeed embrace his words as “truth” because he offers a “solution” for something that is truly deeply troubling – climate change.
Embrace his claims and suddenly climate change is no longer our responsibility or our own fault, but instead is being caused by all those other people who don’t believe. It is an enticing idea, but also for the rest of us, regardless of our actual beliefs or lack of belief, very obviously false. The result is that even if Shane does not actually believe it himself, he will get what he truly deeply desires – respect, influence, and money.
One Last Thought
If your argument is with the well-established laws of physics, then this is not an argument you are going to win in the long term … ever. No matter what he, or those that listen to him, believe, until we take decisive meaningful action, our climate will continue warming.
Questions for Commenters
Is Shane faking it just for the clicks, or do you think he really sincerely believe it?