Humpty Dumpty/wikimedia

In a speech he recently made to the Ohio Christian Alliance, Rick Santorum, a former Senator from Pennsylvania and a Republican candidate for President, recently accused President Obama of having a “phony theology,” one that does not derive from The Bible and which the President has imposed on the citizens of the United States.

Although Santorum later admitted that Obama is a Christian — Santorum: “I wasn’t suggesting the president was not a Christian. I accept the fact that the president’s a Christian….” — it remains the case that the President’s theology is a secular belief system.

Speaking for myself, I find it difficult to glean the mediating concepts Santorum needs to use in order to logically reconcile his claim that Obama is a Christian (as is Santorum and the citizens to which he directs his propaganda) and the claim that Obama believes and wishes to impose a phony theology on America? Amazingly enough, claims of this sort are shaky ground for a Catholic politician in the United States, the Catholic’s Church being the Whore of Babylon and the Pope the Antichrist for some of protestant America. One might wonder why Santorum makes these claims given the history of anti-Catholicism in the United States.

Be that as it may, Santorum did eventually clarify his position on Obama’s theology. Santorum believes Obama is an environmentalist. That is Obama’s theology! Moreover, environmentalism is not only a theology, it is a belief system based on the misuse of scientific evidence. The abuse: Claims which assert the existence of anthropocentric global warming are a “hoax,” according to Santorum. The evidence does not support the anthropocentric global warming position. (The anthropocentric global warming thesis is the consensus opinion among the experts.) And Obama, for his part, has been an industry-friendly advocate of green energy proposals. Because he is such, Obama wants to impose his “phony theology,” environmentalism, on the United States.

The crux of the matter: Are climate science, ecology and biology theological belief systems? Is environmentalism, the practical use of these sciences, a theology? Not at all if by theology one means a discourse (logos) about the nature of the divine (theos being the Greek word for God). One can be an atheist, a practicing scientist and an environmentalist without contradiction. These are not mutually exclusive terms. Nor does scientific practice entail the enchantment of nature. A scientist can practice her craft believing the universe to be nothing more than a consciousless, intentionless, aimless set of mechanisms. But historical semantics does not concern an obscurantist thinker like Santorum. He only needs to label environmentalism a theology because it is a belief system, and it, like every belief system, allegedly has a theological core and even a theodicy.

That modern science and the practical disciplines based on it lack a concept of the divine does not matter here. Nor does it matter that belief systems are not also theologies. What matters for individuals like Santorum is the conflation of the terms “theology” and “belief system” equips him with the tool needed to claim that Obama is oppressing Christians with a “phony theology.” Obama wants to impose both bad science (a “hoax”) and a “phony theology” (environmentalism) on Americans. Environmentalism raises First Amendment issues for Santorum and those who think like him, environmentalism being a religion! Obama’s support for such injures those who practice different religions.

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone. “It means just what I choose it to mean — neither more or less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”