Because Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria hit in quick succession, the debate about global warming has popped up again. It’s an important debate for Christians to enter, because—as Psalm 24:1 says— “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and all they who dwell within it.” We are God’s appointed stewards of God’s creation. What happen to the planet should matter to us.
Too often, though, Christian voices are either silent or shrill when it comes to such issues. So I ask: Is it possible to let a Christian worldview guide us when it comes to climate change? I think so. I’m not yet ready to say there is a “Christian position” on the issue, but I do think we can identify some Christian principles to guide our thinking. Here are a few:
Truth Matters. Christians and conservatives have been called “science deniers” or “flat-earthers” for centuries. Often, this charge is nothing but slander, with no basis in truth. In fact, through the centuries, Christian scientists such as Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascal have made significant breakthroughs in science. Rodney Stark’s “The Triumph of Reason” itemizes the contributions of Christianity to advancements in science, and I commend that book to you.
It is therefore important that Christians not make statements that are actively refuted by science, or not clearly supported by the facts. For example, it is obvious that the Earth, a living system, is constantly heating or cooling. We should not deny that fact. Acknowledging what we know for sure to be true will give us more credibility when it comes to much more difficult questions such as “how much?” and “what should we do about it?”
People Matter. Even if we can establish beyond doubt that global warming is real and it is caused by humans, that does not mean it is bad and that we should cripple ourselves or our posterity in devising “solutions” to it. From a Christian point of view, humans are the masterpiece of God’s creation (Ephesians 2), and our goal should be human flourishing.
Unfortunately, many on the ideological left think human destruction is the solution to global warming. “Population management” is the euphemistic phrase for the advocacy of mass abortion, euthanasia, and other forms of population control aimed at reducing human population to numbers not seen in centuries. As Christians, we should resist these schemes.
Knowledge Matters. Too few Christians are working on the problem of global climate change and the implications it has for public policy, and too little is written on this issue from a Christian perspective. That said, some good resources are available. Dr. Calvin Beisner and the Cornwall Alliance produce thought-provoking and biblically sound material. The Acton Institute has much to say about the issue of human flourishing. I particularly recommend “Evangelicals and Global Warming.”
Compassion Matters. Whether we see many more storms or fewer storms, whether they are the result of global warming or cyclical climatological events, one thing is certain: They will continue to produce victims who will need our help. The good news is that—despite what the mainstream media often report—Christians have been among the “first in” when disaster strikes. May it be ever so. Such compassionate action relieves the suffering of victims, is an act of obedience to the commands of Scripture to love our neighbor, and will enhance our credibility when we speak out about this issue and others in the public square.
Image courtesy of Andy Parker at iStock by Getty Images.
Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.