Evangelicals and Climate Change

There's a knock at your door. You open it. At the door stands a stereotypical satanist. He has pale skin and black lipstick. He has a Pentagram on an ornate necklace and is wearing a black T-Shirt with the words Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law on the front. You also notice injection holes in his arm and satanic imagery tattooed over his skin. As you stand, shocked, he says:

"Dude, I think you ought to know that your roof is on fire"

What would you do under these circumstances? Chances are, if you're an American Evangelical, you will shut the door in his face and choose to disbelieve him. Why? Because this messenger of doom cannot be trusted.

But all it takes is to go out the door, check the roof, and then call the fire brigade if it is true.

This is a weird analogy, I agree, but it is probably a good indicator of where American Evangelicals are with climate change at the moment.

Let me point out something - when it comes to climate change, the "jury" is not out. In other words, reputable scientists the world over are united in their belief that the Earth's atmosphere is warming up due to increased carbon dioxide emissions from human activity. Of course, there are some scientists who disagree, but the vast majority - the vast majority - are united on the subject.

But American Evangelicals will not listen. They will not listen because of their anti-intellectualism which leads to their distrust of science. Forget for a moment that scientific endeavour has, over the centuries, brought the world health, wealth and prosperity.

But the real problem for Evangelicals is that the harbingers of climate change come from the environmental movement. These people are tree hugging, vegetarian, communist scum and have a vested interest in destroying the world economy to bring about their totalitarian utopia by convincing everyone about the lies of climate change - or, at least, that's the caricature.

But just like the Satanist on your doorstep warning you that your roof's on fire, those with whom you have complete religious and philosophical opposition to can sometimes be right. As an evangelical myself I am in no way suggesting that the belief system of Satanism can be anything but in error - but that doesn't mean I ignore the warnings of science.

Science cannot replace divine revelation, and nor can it create a secular heaven-on-earth utopia that many Christians seem to fear. Nevertheless, the careful scientific process has, over the years, provided mankind with some amazing inventions. Of course, science has been involved in the creation of destructive weapons, but science has also been behind medical advancements and technological developments that many Christians have enjoyed - especially those in America.

In a sense, it is probably correct to say that God has used science and scientific endeavour to bless mankind. This doesn't minimize the awful things that science has created though - but I am pointing out that, generally, history has proven science's benefit to mankind. And anything that benefits us is a gift from God.

So when scientists have worked for decades to prove beyond reasonable doubt that climate change is due to human activity, I listen to them. I don't care about their secularism or their arrogance. There's no dark conspiracy going on. They've given us a warning and it would be mindlessly stupid of us to ignore it.

I'm posting all this because Bloomberg News is reporting that a number of conservative Republicans have changed their opinion of global warming. This same news report also points out that some major American businesses, like General Electric, are now supporting measures to reduce global carbon dioxide levels.

A number of evangelical leaders have also come out in support of measures to prevent global warming - but many of these leaders have been pooh-poohed by other evangelicals for their links to various "godless" and "socialist" organisations - the upshot being that they can't be trusted. So not only can an American Evangelical shut the door on the Satanist telling him that his roof's on fire, he can also shut the door on his Christian neighbour - the one who goes to that dodgy church - who also warns him that his roof is on fire.

I'm so annoyed about this arrogant ignorance exhibited by some evangelicals that I have chosen to remove some Christian bloggers from my bookmarks. Even though I have read some good theological stuff written by Tim Challies and Steve Camp, both of these guys prefer to sit in a burning house.

If nothing is done about climate change, the world is not going to end. God will still look after us and his gracious provision of the hydrological cycle will continue to allow us to grow crops and create pastures. But global warming will result in increased sea levels. Extreme warming will result in the complete melting of both polar ice caps and all ice sheets, resulting in an increase of sea levels by around 70 metres. The chances are that many millions will starve and billions will be displaced. The world will not end - but surely in the face of such danger the world should act. Evangelicals, by opposing the idea of changing our ways, are in great danger of being seen in the same way as the Roman Catholic church has been seen over their treatment of Galileo - except, of course, that the deaths of millions will result from such inaction.

© 2006 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/

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Craig Schwarze said...

Can you point to a reference that demonstrates global warming is accepted by the vast majority of scientists?

I suspect it is true myself, but I hear claims on both sides of the debate.

Also, you must admit that Green catastrophism over the years really has reduced the credibility of these messages. It's the boy who cried wolf. The onus is on those promoting this current crisis to really communicate their point of view well.

If it is going to be used to score partisan political points "Bush administration is to blame bleah bleah bleah" then forget it, the show is over, the message is lost.

One Salient Oversight said...

I've added a link to the article. Click here for a direct route to the article. It's actually a survey of scientific literature that pretty much proves the "vast majority" assertion.