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Ten religious reasons against climate change

16 May 2018

8:07 AM

16 May 2018

8:07 AM

Many in politics, as well as in the media, are unaware that there is a growing number of Christians who are opposed to the ‘catastrophism’ associated with global warming. They have formed what is called the Cornwall Alliance and produced an excellent statement outlining their position entitled: A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science and Economics of Global Warming. Based upon the statement as well as the work by Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible, what follows is a ten-point summary of the various ‘religious’ reasons associated with their position:

1  There should be honesty and truth in all areas of teaching and research. It is becoming increasingly recognised that not only is there no academic consensus upon the issue of climate change, but that a significant number of highly qualified scientists—for example, Professor Peter Ridd from James Cook University—have consistently challenged the research upon which the effects of climate change is based. (See Lawrence Solomon’s, The Deniers: The World-Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud (Richard Vigilante Books, 2008.)

2  Moderate increases in temperature, and especially carbon dioxide, are a blessing. There is a growing body of research—see William Nordhaus, A Question of Balance: Weighing the Options on Global Warming Policies; Bjorn Lomberg, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming; Robert Mendelsohn, Climate Change and Agriculture: An Economic Analysis of Global Impacts, Adaptation and Distributional Effects and Ian Plimer, Heaven and Earth: Global Warming the Missing Science—which argues that small to moderate elevations in the earth’s temperature, and especially increases in carbon dioxide, is actually beneficial to agriculture and human flourishing. This is because longer growing seasons means greater overall productivity making food more abundant and hence, more affordable. It also means less damage to crops from frost, and fewer cold snaps, which are responsible for killing many more people than heat waves do.

3  Biblical justice commands that concern be shown, especially for the poor. Following on from the previous point, the price of using renewable energy sources is much higher than using that of traditional fossil fuels. As such, the negative consequences for a nation’s economy, and especially those in poverty, is massive. Bjorn Lomborg, How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place, states:

For some of the world’s poorest countries, which will be adversely affected by climate change, problems like HIV/AIDS, hunger, and malaria are more pressing and can be solved with more efficacy.

4  Having been made in the image of God means that men and women to have dominion over creation. Environmentalism teaches that the natural world is best left alone in a pristine condition, whereas the Bible teaches that men and women are to rule over and improve the environment through their wise stewardship. As the Cornwall Alliance states:  

Environmentalism sees human beings principally as consumers and polluters who are only quantitatively, not qualitatively, different from other species. The Bible sees people as made in God’s image, qualitatively different from all other species, and designed to be producers and stewards who, within a just and free social order, can create more resources than they consume and ensure a clean, healthful, and beautiful environment.

5  The earth is ‘resilient’ rather than inherently ‘fragile’.  As the product of infinitely wise and sovereign creator (Genesis 1:1–31; 8:21–22) the Earth should be viewed as robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting. Although the earth and its subsystems, including the climate system, are susceptible to damage by human action, God’s wise design and faithful sustaining make these natural systems more likely—as confirmed by widespread scientific observation—to respond in ways that suppress and correct that damage than magnify it catastrophically.

6  Human responsibility cannot negate divine sovereignty. Christians, in particular, believe that not only did God create the world, but that He continues to sustain it through His Son as well (Heb. 1:2-3; Acts 14:17). While this does not negate human responsibility—see especially point ten below—all of humanity should recognise God’s sovereignty over creation, and indeed, all of human history. This particular point is all the more pertinent when one understands the Bible’s teaching that the current heavens and earth will one day be destroyed and an entirely new one created (i.e. 2 Peter 3:10-13).

7  Human beings do not ultimately control the weather. There are many passages of Scripture, which affirm this particular truth from both the Old and New Testament (see Lev. 26:18-20; Deut. 28:12, 23-24; Matt. 8:26-27 and James 5:17-18). As such, it is not only theologically inaccurate to argue that mankind is responsible for the severe weather pattern supposedly produced by global warming. This is backed up by scientific research which challenges the contention that recent changes in the earth’s climate has produced more ‘natural’ disasters. (See Dr Randall S. Cerveny, “Severe Weather, Natural Disasters, and Global Change,’ in Shattered Consensus: The True State of Global Warming, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. Pages 106-120)

8  All of the earth’s resources should be used wisely and none of them rejected. One way of exercising godly dominion over creation (Genesis 1:28) is by transforming raw materials into resources and using them to meet human needs. This means that leaving everything in the Earth in its natural state unused is not good stewardship (Matthew 25:14–30).

Following on from this, there is an important Biblical warning that it is actually a false teaching to reject certain aspects of God’s creation as being evil (i.e. 1 Tim. 4:4). This is because everything that has been created is good and are to be wisely used for our benefit. As such, ‘fossil fuels’ are not intrinsically ‘bad’.

9  There is a prohibition against the superstition of idolatry. The Bible consistently forbids the worship of the creation as an end in and of itself. However, so much of the modern environmental movement is based upon superstitious and pagan beliefs. For instance, the focus on ‘Mother Earth’, the worship of Gaia, and in particular the ‘deep ecology’ of environmentalism, all take on an explicitly religious devotion.

10  The work of the Messiah should a positive impact on how we care for the earth now. Biblically speaking, ‘salvation’ is not just about the redemption of individual souls, but involves an overturning of the effects of human rebellion. As Calvin Beisner explains the Christian perspective in this regard in his book, Where Garden Meets Wilderness (Eerdmans, 1997):

The effects of the atoning death, victorious resurrection, and triumphant ascension of Christ, then, sweep over all of creation, including man, animals, plants, and even the ground itself. They include the restoration of the image of God in the redeemed and through them—and by common grace even through many who are not redeemed—the restoration of knowledge, holiness, and creativity in working out the cultural mandate, including human multiplication, subduing and ruling the earth, transforming the wilderness by cultivation into a garden and guarding the garden against harm.

I’ll never forget reading an editorial in a Christian periodical, The Briefing back in 2006. The editor, Tony Payne, cautioned against jumping on the latest politically correct ‘bandwagon’ and uncritically swallowing the “blue pill” of what would become the mantra of the Kevin 07 campaign; that ‘climate change is the great moral challenge of our generation’. Since then, many more conservative Christians have become increasingly sceptical about claims of climate catastrophism. And they have many ‘religious’—as well as scientific and economic—reasons to be so.

Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.

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