There has been a great deal of debate recently over the whole global warming issue, and some may force it to become one of the major political issues in the 2008 elections. Meanwhile, the church has either been hesitant to pick a side in this debate, or has simply rejected the idea altogether because of questions about the scientific sources from which this whole debate is founded upon. So, this leaves us with a couple of important questions about this issue. What is the truth about global warming? And, how should the average Christian respond to this whole issue?
What is the truth about global warming?
There are lots of questions about the research that has been done so far in respect to global warming. Let’s look at some of the numbers that are being reported…
- 2006 is ranked as the hottest year on record in the United States
- America is ranked as the top polluter in the world
- 20% percent increase of America’s carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels since 1990
- The US fire season has increased by 78 days per year over the past 20 years
- 80% percent decrease in U.S. global warming pollution required by 2050 to prevent the worst consequences of global warming
Source: Environmental Defense
When I look at the numbers above there are a couple of things that I see. First is that the first four of the five points are measurable, and therefore scientific. However, the connection between things like “hottest year on record” and “top polluter” cannot necessarily be connected. That would be like trying to make a case in a court of law with no direct evidence, but only circumstantial “evidence”. While the trends do seem to coincide at this time, it does not necessarily mean that there is a link between them. In fact, there was a period between 1945 and 1970 that there was some significant global cooling while pollution was increasing. Also regarding the last point listed above, this is purely speculative. We have not yet been able to control the weather on large scales, and there is no substantial proof that should lead us to believe that changing pollution levels will decrease the effects of global warming.
So where does that leave us in regards to the truth. One thing that I think is quite obvious, and know that we have control over is that pollution and potentially harmful CO2 emissions is on the rise. This is factual, and truthful. Everything else is speculation.
How should the average Christian respond to this whole issue?
The most important thing that we need to understand is that as Christians, we are to be a light in this world. I do not believe that it is right for a Christian to pick a fight with a “global warming activist” simply because we don’t agree on all of the facts. In my previous posts what is truth? and what is truth? (part deux), I pointed out that we must first start from the common ground that we have, and not let our differences separate us. We can accomplish much more by starting with the common ground, and then worry about theological issues as they present themselves later. And be careful when you do approach theology in these conversations, as we should fight that battle with our Christ-like character, not with guilt and shame for people that don’t agree with us.
The Bible is very clear about what our stance should be when it comes to the environment…
God blessed them and told them, “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals.”
We are to be stewards of the earth. We are to take care of it, and all of the creatures that live on it along with us. We have been left in charge of it, and therefore have the responsibility to not let it go to waste. Imagine if you had some people over to watch your house for you, and you came home and the yard was all torn up, the furniture and carpet was all stained from spills and other waste, things were broken, and it was obvious that the people that you trusted to take care of it had a complete disregard for your property. Well, it’s the same thing with the earth. We are left to care for this place, and we have an obligation to keep it in good working order.
At the same time we should not let “environmentalism” become our primary focus. When we put it in front of our desire for God, then that becomes idolatry. The Bible is also very clear about its position on this as well…
Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen.
The idea here is that we keep things in their proper perspectives. We should be active in taking care of the environment, but we should also be doing it because we care about God and what He would want us to do with His planet. We should not place environment or animals as a higher importance or priority than God.
We should also be careful in how we live this one out, because it is also not our responsibility to keep unbelievers accountable to our standards. Nor should we judge them for not living up to our personal beliefs. Our witness should be based in love for one another, and we should connect based on our common ground.
So, may you go out and become much more aware of how our actions pollute this earth. And may you connect with others with different theologies, but with common hearts to keep our planet clean. Touch someone with the love of God today. Amen.