One of our readers posed a comment that I thought would make for an interesting post. The topic…why is global warming such a polarizing topic for atheists and Christians. After all doesn’t everyone want to take care of earth?
Before we look at this from a biblical perspective, let’s look at (at least at a high level) the science that is driving global warming.
At the basic level the premise for global warming is this…1) man produces harmful emissions (through technology); 2) those emissions are causing the earth to warm; 3) those emissions can/will destroy the earth if it is not stopped. I am sure that if I am wrong….some global warming advocates will appear and correct me. Recent articles have called into question the validity of the data being used to support the findings of global warming science.
The basic argument to combat global warming is good stewardship of the earth. There are extreme elements (perhaps even on the non-extreme side) that argue that more extreme measures must be taken to protect the earth (stop using gas, oil, etc…). It seems that every so often we have some who come out and propose a doomsday scenario where the earth will flood, or burn or will be un-inhabitable. These predictions (extinction of the human race, or all kinds of animals) pose some unique questions. Can man destroy the earth that God built? Better yet, if the Bible mentions nothing about the destruction of the earth by man’s hand… will it happen that way?
From a biblical perspective we should all be good stewards. Probably the most significant mention of this is the parable of the unjust steward. The point of this parable is found in Luke 16:10-12: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”
So how does this relate?
This parable is important because it says that we must be able to handle little so that we can be trusted with much. The parable specifically mentions wealth and property. Think about this for a second, if you throw a candy wrapper on the ground, are being trustworthy with God’s property? In essence…we are stewards over every blessing that God has given us. If we can’t be trusted with the more simplistic things (finding a trash can) then how can we be trusted with the bigger things (managing the Garbage Company). This includes the earth. We are obligated to be good stewards of it.
I recently found this list on a web site that talks about ways to involve kids in stewardship…however this is applicable to all of us as stewards:
Top 10 ways to involve kids in stewardship
||Recycle everything from cans to clothes
||Consolidate car trips; read a book while you wait
||Shut off lights and appliances not in use
||Harvest what you plant, share what you harvest
||Share clothes with a sibling or parent
||Use e-mail rather than long distance
||Treat possessions as valuables
||Ride a bike or walk for short errands and exercise
||Wipe your feet
Now to the controversy…
The split, at least for me personally, is when someone who believes in global warming says that man is capable of destroying the earth. What really gets me is a Christian who says that man can destroy the earth. Such a statement, not only labels the Bible as being errant, but places man on the same plateau as God. Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for everyone to do what they want. My family practices many of the things listed above. I cannot emphasize this enough…WE ARE TO BE GOOD STEWARDS WITH THE BLESSINGS GOD HAS GIVEN US!
Where I draw the line is on individuals who worship science over God. God has declared how this earth will meet its end. Anything other than that cuts against the grain of biblical truth and at least starts to place something over God. If science is telling you that man will destroy the earth, you know that cannot be true because God did not say they would in His Word. Case and point…global warming advocates will tell you that the earth will flood from the polar caps melting. This is in direct contradiction to the promise by God that he would never flood the earth again (Genesis 9:11). How can you believe in both? The short answer….you can’t. I have a hard time stomaching Scientists trying to tell me that the earth that God created (the most powerful God, who is capable of anything) can be destroyed by man. I resent that. We have power over nothing, and yet we can melt the world?
This, in my opinion, is why global warming advocates and Christians will tend to split when it comes to global warming. Christians will look at what is happening and say God controls it, global warming advocates will look at what is happening and say that man controls it. If you are a Christian you should avoid the temptation of believing that man can control the temperature and then worship a God that you proclaim controls everything. This is another point of the parable of the unjust steward. Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.
It’s schizophrenic to try and serve both God and the science of global warming – They are diametrically opposed to one another.
Thanks for writing this!
I think what I was trying to get at was why is this worth arguing? I mean are atheists asking Christians to do immoral things in order to undo some of the global warming effects? Is arguing producing results? I think that instead, Christians might be better off working along side atheists. Just because the world won’t end in a nuclear holocaust, does that mean we should let countries produce nuclear weapons to no end? No, of course not. I’m disturbed to see the Church brought into these discussions because they often turn into shouting matches. That, combined with the fact that this is a political issue, creates a bad taste in the mouth for non-Christians to think of the church. What we, as Christians, should not be doing is buying into the hype and hysteria that the world could end anytime. That doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen.
Obviously scientists have a lot they don’t know; we must take everything with a grain of salt. However, I don’t believe arguing is the way we must show love to our fellow men.
Thanks again for providing discussion on this topic.
My point is that we should be good stewards REGARDLESS of global warming. If the phrase global warming never existed, we should still be good stewards. I disagree with the premise working together with atheists to undo the effects of global wamring. Again, this is just my opinion…but when you concede that there is an impact because of global warming, you are conceding that Man trumps God on Earth, and you concede to the science of global warming.
I am all for being a good steward. I will not sacrifice God’s supreme authority so that I can work with another group though. Make no mistake…Atheists have a bad taste in their mouth because we are Christians, not because we won’t work with them on global warming. Jesus said it would be because of Him that they would hate us, not anything else.
Thank you for your reply –
Stewards of everything is something I totally believe in. This goes beyond taking care of the environment. We need to keep our communities clean, kids in school, poor and needy fed, etc.
“Global warming” is really just a buzz word and should really be rebranded to climate changes. And even if we can’t cause the destruction of the world, can we still cause massive damages?
I can see why we shouldn’t agree on the possible world destruction. And I am definitely against sacrificing our beliefs for acceptance. I’m just tired of the bad rap Christians get in the science media and I think we bring it mostly on ourselves. We should be showing love in all we do and it seems, to me at least, that getting in heated debates on whether or not mankind can cause the end of the world seems silly. Why do we need the re-enforcement of a non-christian scientist? If I, as a Christian scientist, work on a method that I describe as “Helping combat global warming” do you not think there would be some in the Christian media that would denounce my findings? Even if all they do is help reduce emissions?
I just looked back on my post realized that I may have come off as being a little terse… I appreciate the comments.
In writing this post I fought to not reveal my own personal preference on global warming. Though I probably did not succeed, I will be more open. I do not believe in man made global warming. I believe the earth will warm and cool as it as done historically without the aid of men. Science cannot prove that “emissions” are harmful to earth. They can only speculate, because historically earth has done this on its own.
Christian Scientist or not, I believe you will find that there are many who would denounce any findings that “proof” global warming. To draw a comparison…I see global warming science, and evolution science as one and the same.
Again, i hesitate at the massive damages remark. Can you cause massive damage without the threat of destruction? If you can’t destroy it can you cause massive damage?
I tend to deny the premise because it is a slippery slop to me. the projection of global warming has been such that it encompasses everything, and has in essence become it’s own religion. Look at Romans 1:25. At what point do you (not you specifically just in general) begin the worship of nature and stop the worship of God? This is what I am afraid of.
BTW…this is a good conversation.