As we’ve gone through this series, we’ve seen that there’s more going on in “Climate Science” than science. The people raising the rhetorical temperature in today’s world about these issues are motivated by more than facts and figures. Just this week, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” went on a profanity-laden rant, demanding action now and attacking anyone who dared to dissent. There’s a disconnect between the data and the way many people talk about it. Why?
One quickly discovers that upon closer examination, there is a large and growing body of evidence demonstrating that “climate change” is simply a natural phenomenon, completely unrelated to human causation. I could literally spend months recounting the data, but I must bring this series to a conclusion and connect it to its theological considerations: Why does it matter to the Church and why should Christians be equipped to respond to “green politics?”
To be sure, Christians should certainly oppose wanton destruction and reckless disregard for the environment. As individuals we should always seek to do that which is pleasing to the Lord in everything, including how we interact with nature and utilize nature’s natural resources.
There is the real danger here of legalism in suggesting that Christians “should do this” and “not do that” when it comes to stewardship of the planet. Therefore, we must be careful not fall into this trap by offering suggestions on what kind of cars we should drive or eco-friendly living. Scripture doesn’t offer such specifics therefore none of us can provide detailed specifics without adding to the biblical revelation. However, we are given some direction relative to specific character qualities that can prove helpful in forming a consciously Christian approach to the environment.
Humility is the essential Christ-like quality, and a humble character is not disposed to excessive consumption, prideful displays, and selfish exploitation of any resource, either human or ecological (cf. Eph 5:15-21, Phil 2:1-8). A humble spirit will not consume without regard for their personal consumption’s impact on others and God’s creation. A humble spirit will not acquire based upon an acquisition’s statement to others of their status but rather need and sufficiency. Now, I am in no way suggesting that the wealthy are not to enjoy their “wealth and possessions,” as these are clearly a gift from God (see Ecc 5:19).
Furthermore, I am not advocating asceticism or a return to primitive living—progress and civilization are part of the dominion mandate given to man. These should be pursued for the benefit and flourishing of humanity. God has also given us an appreciation for beauty and so an emphasis on the aesthetic in the design of our homes, cars, and environment both expresses and appreciates the creative character of God and His glory. Again, each person needs to ask for themselves: “what is sufficient?” Finally, a humble spirit does not exploit nature or people by elevating their personal wants or gain over the moral good of others and the environment. It is this quality of humility that should drive our decisions relative to living in harmony with the created order.
As Christians we certainly should not abuse the environment, and we should support measures that limit pollution and encourage development that tries to balance natural and human needs. Granted, this “balance” will inevitably be imperfect, but the best of human creativity and ingenuity should be applied to mediating these efforts while preserving the primacy of man. Suffice it to say, opposing the theory of human-caused climate change does not necessarily mean one is indifferent to environmental abuse.
Again, my principal interests are the “why” and “what” questions related to the climate change issue. If so much evidence indicates otherwise, why are the proponents of anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming so determined to assert and defend this perspective and what is their motivation? This is the issue that should be of greatest interest to the Church because herein lies a significant “false pretension that has set itself up against the knowledge of God.”
Granted, some are simply motivated by self-serving greed. Since the early 1990s, the US has spent more than $154 billion in “climate research.” The fact is if you want funding for your research, connecting it to “climate change” increases your chances significantly. For example, if you seek funding to study the mating habits of the Grey Squirrel you are less likely to be successful than the researcher applying to study the effects of climate change on the mating habits of the Grey Squirrel. Money is driving much of the science.
Additionally, there is again the influence of Marxists who, since the collapse of Soviet Communism, see environmentalism as a new means to opposing capitalism and capitalist expansion. Then there are the radical extremists who advocate primitivism and a return medieval life. However, these are fringe elements and not the driving force behind the current debate. I contend, the popular idea that climate change is a human-caused phenomenon, which must be fought for the sake of our very survival, offers secular man both an essential but alternative morality to God’s and a needed purpose higher than himself.
When society jettisons the biblical view of reality, as we are doing in the West, this necessarily extends to include the rejection of biblical morality. But, since that man is a moral being, he cannot live in a moral void and so secular man must create an alternative morality where he and not God is the final authority. This new moral system will have some distinct characteristics: it will abandon traditional moral positions on matters such as sexual ethics, or anything that imposes boundaries upon man’s selfish appetites and proclivities. This explains why “homophobia” is regarded as evil while homosexual acts are not and a “woman’s right to choose” is given moral priority over the life of the person inside her.
Environmentalism offers an ideal moral alternative to Christianity because it comes across as being motivated by a noble interest in innocent nature and opposes less controversial “evils” such as human greed and avarice. Environmentalism, in effect, offers secular man a more defensible moral cause than say the more obvious and controversial topics of sexual licentiousness or abortion.
To underscore this emphasis on a religious and moral alternative, consider Al Gore’s own words:
The climate crisis also offers us the chance to experience what very few generations in history have had the privilege of knowing: a generational mission; the exhilaration of a compelling moral purpose; a shared and unifying cause; the thrill of being forced by circumstances to put aside the pettiness and conflict that so often stifle the restless human need for transcendence; the opportunity to rise. When we do rise, it will fill our spirits and bind us together. Those who are now suffocating in cynicism and despair will be able to breathe freely. Those who are now suffering from a loss of meaning in their lives will find hope. When we rise, we will experience an epiphany as we discover that this crisis is not really about politics at all. It is a moral and spiritual challenge (An Inconvenient Truth).
It is important to understand this philosophical influence because without it you cannot comprehend the motivation of those who are determined to elevate climate change to the apocalyptic “crisis” that it has become and lay the blame for this crisis upon humanity. This is the “false pretension” manifested in the climate change debate that demands an intelligent and informed response from the Church because, on one level, God’s moral authority is at stake.
I contend that the most effective assault on God’s truth rarely comes directly but subtly and in ways not always immediately clear. The battle for truth is both varied and multi-faceted but “there is not one square inch of the universe over which King Jesus does not claim, ‘This is mine!’” as the great Dutch theologian and Prime Minister Abraham Kuyper once declared. This royal claim no doubt includes the truth about climate change hysteria and the alternative morality it advocates.