July 18, 2014

Why Christian Denial of Global Warming Makes Sense:
Or, how our politicians can continue to deny climate change in the face of overwhelming evidence

I keep coming back to Cosmos, don't I? But I'm going to, at least briefly, once again in this post. We're talking about climate change.

The very last episode of Cosmos dealt with our future as a species. It talked about the history of climate change assertions and the history of our action (or lack thereof) on the subject. It was incredibly frustrating to watch and consider that we've lost over two hundred years of research time because it simply wasn't important enough to us.

It makes me recall a conversation that my aunt and I had during our beach vacation a few weeks ago. When I explained that many Christians resist the idea of global warming because they believe that the earth will last until God decides it shouldn't, she said what I'm sure some of you unfamiliar with the doctrine are also saying: Noooooooooooooo. Incredulously, even.

But I am here to say that yes, there are churches, pastors, and Christians all over this country that believe that we don't have to do anything about climate change because A) it doesn't exist and B) we're only going to be here until God says we aren't.

Let's dive right in, shall we?

Climate Change Can't Exist Because God

First, there's the assertion that climate change doesn't exist. You may believe this to be an erroneous conclusion drawn from faulty data analysis, but alas, you give them entirely too much credit.

This is a doctrinal problem. Take a look at this quote from God, Rush, and Global Warming:
The Bible teaches that earth and all its subsystems-including the climate system-are the product of a God who is an infinitely wise Designer, an infinitely powerful Creator, and an infinitely faithful Sustainer. It teaches that when God finished creating the earth and everything in it, He declared it "very good" (Genesis 1:31); that He created it by His infinitely powerful word (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24; John 1:1–3); and that He sustains it "by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3). 
Now I ask you, does an infinitely wise designer plan something to be so fragile that a proportionately tiny stress will cause it to collapse? Does a good architect, for instance, design a building so that if you lean against a wall, the rest of the building reacts by magnifying the stress of your weight until the building collapses?
God created the world. Nothing like mankind could ever threaten it.

I'm sure it's a total coincidence, then, that the GOP--which polls showed 69% of evangelicals supported--also opposes making adjustments to reduce our impact on our climate.

Climate Change Can't Threaten Humans Because God

ChristianAnswers.net breaks down another aspect of the "God is in control of all, so climate change is no biggie guys": The idea that God is in control of humanity, and thus we are not in any danger at all.

I call this my "Frog in the Pot Theology", which makes me giggle, admittedly. You see, when you boil a frog alive, you put it in regular water first. Then you gradually turn up the heat until it cooks--without ever fighting at all. The analogy is, I think, fitting.

Mark Van Bebber writes for the site:
For instance, many people in the ecology movement would say that cleaning up the environment is important because the future of mankind is endangered. They point to issues like the ozone depletion and global warming to support their claims (points which many believe are highly suspect). 
However, the Bible is clear that the existence of the human race is not in jeopardy. God is in control of our destiny. He has planned the future for mankind. The Bible tells us that the earth will someday be restored by Christ (Rom. 8:21), and ultimately God will destroy it by fire, replacing it with a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:10). 
The Bible is very specific about the fact that the restoration and ultimate destruction of the earth is God's working and is not related to man's “fine-tuning” of the environment.
So you see, there's nothing to worry about. God is in control of all, and climate change is just an inconvenient truth.

Do you see what I did there? ;)

 Climate Change Isn't Important Because the World Is Going To Be Destroyed Anyway

I just quoted this piece above, but I'd like to pull out a few key points. Look at this:
The Bible tells us that the earth will someday be restored by Christ (Rom. 8:21), and ultimately God will destroy it by fire, replacing it with a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:10). 
and this:
The Bible is very specific about the fact that the restoration and ultimate destruction of the earth is God's working and is not related to man's “fine-tuning” of the environment.
Are they seriously willing to drive the whole world over the side of a cliff for this? Yes, yes, they are.

 The world is going to be destroyed by fire anyway, so what's it matter if it gets a little warm in the interim?

Another piece, How Should a Christian View Global Warming?, puts it quite succinctly:
The idea of earth “wearing out” is an apt analogy. This entire world has been continually decaying since the fall.

Climate Change Isn't Important Because It's Highly Contested

My first question is: By whom? I'm not a scientist, myself, but I do enjoy reading and following the work of science where I can, and I have to be honest, the majority of what I see--from people that know what they are talking about--is that climate change is very real, very dangerous, and very much happening right now.

But the obviousness of the confirmation bias in pieces like what we are exploring today is a little frustrating, still. Consider this parenthetical from the quote above:
They point to issues like the ozone depletion and global warming to support their claims (points which many believe are highly suspect).
"Points which many believe"..."which many believe"..."which many"...yup. You read it right.

We see similar ideas in How Should a Christian View Global Warming?:
A careful look at global warming, as a topic, shows that there is a great deal of disagreement about the facts and substance of climate change. Those who blame man for climate change often disagree about what facts lead them to that conclusion. Those who hold man totally innocent of it often ignore established facts. Experience and research leads us to believe that warming is, in fact, occurring; however, there is little to no objective evidence that man is the cause, nor that the effects will be catastrophic. 
Little to no objective evidence. What the actual fuck?

Notice the phrasing the same author uses here:
Global warming “facts” are notoriously hard to come by. One of the few facts universally agreed upon is that the current average temperature of Earth is indeed rising at this time. According to most estimates, this increase in temperature amounts to about 0.4-0.8 °C (0.72-1.44 °F) over the last 100 years. Data regarding times before that is not only highly theoretical but very difficult to obtain with any accuracy. The very methods used to obtain historical temperature records are controversial, even among the most ardent supporters of the theory of human-caused climate change. 

Climate Change Isn't Important Because God Cares About Souls More than the Environment

When I originally typed that header, I had "God Cares About People", but then I edited it to read "souls". Why? Because if Christians believed God truly cared about people, right now, and their suffering, they would be more worried about the impact we are having on our planet. Until such a day, I refuse to believe that Christianity, overall, truly cares about people.

 Here's what our sources have to say about environmentalism. Bebber starts us off:
One further observation should be made concerning our caring for creation. Man must learn that our responsibility to the earth is less important than our caring for each other. This lesson is illustrated inJonah 4:9-11. Here, God reminds Jonah that he has no right to care more for plants and trees and cattle than for the 120,000 people that lived in Nineveh. Now, more than ever, people need to gain God's perspective on what things really matter most. The environment is important, but God is more concerned for the souls of people.
Our responsibility to the earth is part of caring for each other, I'd argue, but obviously Bebber has different priorities than me.

And "How Should a Christian View Global warming?" says:
In regards to issues such as this, skepticism is not the same as disbelief. There are fragments of evidence to support both sides, and logical reasons to choose one interpretation over another. The question of anthropogenic global warming should not divide Christian believers from each other (Luke 11:17). Environmental issues are important, but they are not the most important questions facing mankind. Christians ought to treat our world with respect and good stewardship, but we should not allow politically driven hysteria to dominate our view of the environment. Our relationship with God is not dependent on our belief in human-caused global warming.

Why This Should Scare the Shit Out Of You

In a country that still deeply identifies with evangelical Christianity, these points should scare the shit out of you.

We currently have an overwhelming number of people in office that not only deny the facts regarding climate change--THEY ACTUALLY BELIEVE THE WORLD IS GOING TO BE DESTROYED AND SO THERE IS NO REASON TO TRY TO SAVE IT.

They believe that any environmental indictment is an indictment on their intelligently designed creation, and thus, on its Creator.

These are not the ideas of sane people. These are the ideas that led to Bruno's burning. These are the ideas that kept Copernicus from publishing until his deathbed--and even then, kept him from affirming his ideas as any more than a "mathematical model". These are the ideas that led to Galileo's house arrest. The ideas that led to the Inquisitions. These are not the ideas of enlightened people.

Any politician, regardless of their political beliefs, should govern based on what is best for the secular state, not a religious one. If you have one point of view that says the world will be destroyed, and one that says we can save it, you should argue from the position that is best for the secular state--that is the duty of politicians, to protect the secular citizens of the secular state, regardless of religious dogma.

And yet, we are here, still arguing the same points against the same superstition, while the water gets hotter and hotter.

**A Note On the Links: I refuse to give climate change deniers equal space on this blog. Thus all of the links in this page, even the not obnoxious ones (arguably they are all obnoxious in content, if not tone) are Do Not Links that will not contribute to the statistics of the sites in question.

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