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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Christians, Climate and Catastrophism

Oct 19, 2019

Christians must not succumb to emotive climate catastrophism:

C. S. Lewis once warned about “Christianity and…” That is, the dangerous tendency to supplement or add to the Christian faith some cause or some ideology or some trend. ‘Christianity and socialism’ would be one such example. Some clueless Christians will always elevate and morph some secular ideology or ism into gospel truth.

All that does is destroy Christianity while it puts on a pedestal some human belief system or activity. Today we see the same thing happening with Christianity and climate alarmism. We have countless Christians, pastors, churches and even entire denominations hopping on the climate change bandwagon, treating it as an extension of the faith.

Thus we today have plenty of church leaders preaching the gospel according to Al Gore and Greta Thunberg instead of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We hear plenty of Chicken Little fear-mongering sermons about the end of the world instead of hearing about the real gospel message – the biblical one.

As I have said so often, believers do of course have a responsibility to be good stewards of planet earth. But worshipping it or making it to be the be-all and end-all of our faith simply becomes a form of idolatry. And the more extreme the climate alarmism, the more believers should give it a wide berth.

Science

The truth is, climate catastrophism is bad science and bad theology. As to the science, there are plenty of scientists who simply do not subscribe to climate extremism. For example, just recently a large group of scientists issued a statement warning against climate alarmism – not climate catastrophe. As one write-up puts it:

More than 500 scientists and professionals in climate and related fields have sent a “European Climate Declaration” to the Secretary-General of the United Nations asking for a long-overdue, high-level, open debate on climate change. Just as 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York accusing world leaders of robbing her of her future, scientists were begging the United Nations to keep hysteria from obscuring facts.

“Climate science should be less political, while climate policies should be more scientific,” the declaration states. “Scientists should openly address the uncertainties and exaggerations in their predictions of global warming, while politicians should dispassionately count the real benefits as well as the imagined costs of adaptation to global warming, and the real costs as well as the imagined benefits of mitigation.” The scientists underscored the importance of not rushing into enormously expensive climate action before fully ascertaining the facts.

“There is no statistical evidence that global warming is intensifying hurricanes, floods, droughts and suchlike natural disasters, or making them more frequent,” they declared. “However, CO2-mitigation measures are as damaging as they are costly. For instance, wind turbines kill birds and bats, and palm-oil plantations destroy the biodiversity of the rainforests.” www.breitbart.com/environment/2019/09/24/500-scientists-write-u-n-there-is-no-climate-emergency/

And one website has been set up where concerned scientists can declare their concern about the catastrophists. So far nearly 31,500 American scientists have signed it, declaring that “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.” www.petitionproject.org/

BTW, it will be wise to ignore the fake news groups such as Snopes which claim that this is all bogus and they are not really genuine scientists. Groups like Snopes have far more activist agendas that they are pushing than these scientists and other concerned citizens.

What about the so-called “consensus” amongst scientists that we keep hearing about? One authority put it this way:

The “consensus” isn’t what it’s cracked up to be, as veteran meteorologist and former National Hurricane Center Director Neil Frank demonstrated in a major article for the Cornwall Alliance’s website. The real consensus is probably something more in the range of 50 to 60%, and it’s not a consensus that human emissions of CO2 are causing, or will cause, dangerous global warming, but simply that GAT [global average temperature] has risen over the past century and a half and that human activity has contributed to that warming.

Second, consensus isn’t a scientific value. It’s a political value. Want to know who won an election? Count votes. Want to know how much a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration will raise GAT? You don’t count votes, you do the hard empirical research. So anyone who starts appealing to consensus isn’t really talking science.

Third, many scientists who do embrace the dangerous-to-catastrophic anthropogenic warming idea probably do so largely because of group pressure, as Judith Curry discussed in a major paper on how the IPCC created consensus. cornwallalliance.org/2019/10/climate-change-and-the-battle-for-peoples-minds-part-2-of-interview-with-christian-renewal-magazine/

Indeed, the idea that the overwhelming majority of scientists support the notion of man-made climate change is simply incorrect. For example, many of you would have heard the oft-repeated claim that 97 per cent of scientists fully support the global warming gospel. That simply is not true. A short video on this is well worth watching: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSrjAXK5pGw&fbclid=IwAR12Dcsiq3qmV063G-ysESLps1fUGEns0MHSKzA_hBYV7dFEyKIV97I4rrA

Theology

This is not the place to go into a full-orbed discussion about biblical Christianity and the environment. So just a few quick things will be said, along with mention of a few resources that are worth being aware of. As to Christian considerations about the environment, a few bullet points can be offered here:

-God has given us dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28).
-God wants us to be good stewards of the world that he created.
-Because of the entrance of sin into the world, God has pronounced a curse upon the earth (Genesis 3:14-19). This in large measure explains what we are up against.
-Our environmental issues are at root a moral problem – due to human sin – and not something to be fully resolved simply by scientific, technological or economic means.
-While we must care for this planet, we are not to worship creation, but only the creator.
-Undue emphasis and exaggerated concern about the environment can easily lead to idolatry if we are not careful.
-We will one day be living in a new heavens and a new earth, so we must take care of what God has given us.
-Christians can and do differ on the science of climate change, so we need to listen carefully and prayerfully to what is being said, making up our minds based on the evidence, not on emotional alarmism.
-Biblically informed scientific evidence, rather than emotive outbursts from children or movie stars, should be what guides us here.
-Panic over an imminent end of the world or mass extinction is not compatible with the biblical truth that God is in control, and that the end of this world will not occur until God brings it about according to his own purposes and plans.
-Belief in God’s controlling hand over this world does not mean we are fatalists who do nothing. Christians are to responsibly use sensible means to help care for the environment.
-As always, there is an interplay of divine sovereignty and human responsibility that takes place here.

One Christian environmental scientist has recently warned about not getting entangled in climate idolatry. He reminds us that “in recent years, the church’s support for the climate movement seems to be morphing into a social justice issue that is void of sound Biblical doctrine.” He closes his piece with these words:

The presence of skeptics does not guarantee the immunity of the church from falling prey to the radical nature of climate environmentalism. A lot of my Christian friends remain uninformed about the details of the climate crisis movement and the players involved in it. If anything, they were surprised when I raised critical questions about Greta’s claims about “dying people” and “stolen future.”

The church’s position hangs in the balance. Though being neutral, the church is increasingly being exposed to climate crusaders who are imploring them to join the climate fight. With the Pope and Archbishop calling out their followers to embrace climate activism, it won’t be long before the Evangelical, Reformed, Baptist, and other denominations begin to get attracted to climate activism.

My final note to the church body: Resist idolatry and treat climate predictions with caution. Embrace empirical, evidence-based science. Don’t fall victim to the emotional appeals of school children, unelected leaders of the United Nations, and a few religious leaders who have no expertise in climate sciences and no understanding about its complexity. www.christianpost.com/voice/when-christians-get-entangled-in-climate-idolatry.html

The Cornwall Alliance

There are now of course numerous Christian groups dedicated to care for the earth. One group worth mentioning is the Cornwall Alliance. Early in 2000 the Interfaith Council on Environmental Stewardship published The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship. Soon after it was released, some 1,500 religious leaders and laymen from around the world endorsed it. That led to the creation of the Cornwall Alliance in 2005.

This in part explains their mission: “The Cornwall Alliance is a network of evangelical Christian scholars – mostly natural scientists, economists, policy experts, theologians, philosophers, and religious leaders – dedicated to educating the public and policymakers about Biblical earth stewardship.” Their site is here: cornwallalliance.org/

For further reading

There are plenty of books written by Christians discussing the environment and our role in caring for it. I have pulled a handful of volumes from my shelves that offer a biblically balanced and helpful assessment of these issues.

Beisner, E. Calvin, Prospects for Growth: A Biblical View of Population, Resources, and the Environment. Crossway Books, 1990.
Beisner, E. Calvin, Prosperity and Poverty: The Compassionate Use of Resources in a World of Scarcity. Crossway Books, 1988.
Beisner, E. Calvin, Where Garden Meets Wilderness: Evangelical Entry into the Environmental Debate. Eerdmans, 1997.
Coffman, Michael, Saviors of the Earth? Northfield, 1994.
Cromartie, Michael, ed., Creation at Risk? Religion, Science and Environmentalism. Eerdmans, 1995.
Macdonald, Alex, Creation in Crisis? Green Concerns and Christianity. Christian Focus Publications, 1992.

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19 Responses to Christians, Climate and Catastrophism

  • I note that there are stories written on the internet, about, “Pope Francis invites religious and political leaders to sign global pact for new humanism.” including in the article, he says to educate the young people on climate change and healing the planet.
    The global pact invitation for leaders is set for May 14, 2020. You may find this article Interesting reading.

  • Thank you Bill for a very relevant article for these times.

  • Thanks for this carefully thought out article, Bill. Christians should continue to get their theology from the Bible and not from the television. In Genesis 8:22 God made the promise,

    While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

    We also have Paul’s wonderful vision in Corinthians which tells us that Christ’s reign continues as he gradually puts all enemies under his feet.

    … In other words, the end of this world is glory not destruction. It is the redemption, through Christ, of this Earth and not it’s demise.

    This does not preclude catastrophe. But it should give Christians great comfort and hope.

    The Bible is the final authority on all science.

  • Some commentators manage to mangle “social justice”, creation care and anti-capitalism into one mixed-up socialist bundle and then claim they are not being political: “The climate crisis is a human rights issue…. The bold student-led protests threaten to topple the false gods – market forces, over-consumption and unrestrained greed – that undervalue God’s creation….”
    from https://www.eternitynews.com.au/opinion/striking-students-on-the-right-side-of-history/

  • Canberra Declaration have invited people, during October, to pray for those of us who are in drought – farmers and others who are doing it hard. There is a drought of faith and prayer in our land which we can pray about. We can repent of our sin, in not giving God His rightful place in our world; people ignoring our Creator, who sends rain on all of us!

  • Well Done Bill,
    A great article. Should be mandatory reading for every Christian under 30 years old. Ian Barnes your referenced article written by Tim Costello. No surprises here. I lost respect for Tim years ago. Here’s an article from Stephen Moore detailing the billions wasted in the USA in the name of Carbon reduction. https://www.heritage.org/environment/commentary/follow-the-climate-change-money,
    Phil

  • About a year ago I wrote some notes for my grand daughter. She was surprised that I didn’t believe in ‘climate change’. She goes to a Christian school. I am not sure if she read it but here tis –
    I am open to correction if I have any facts wrong.
    Why I do not believe in climate change – a few points
    1. What does ‘climate change’ mean? It is in the nature of climate to change.
    2. What does ‘global climate change’ mean? The climate in my backyard is different to the climate in another. What grows in my garden will not grow in a yard full of gum trees and native grasses. The climate in Tasmania is different to the climate in South Australia. Regional weather makes sense, global climate does not.
    3. Definitions of climate change differ from person to person.
    4. Science is never settled. There is always more to learn.
    5. The main stream media is dominated by a small number of people. The aim of this media is to indoctrinate into a globalist agenda, not present the truth.
    6. The same people that say that ‘the science is settled’ believe in the ‘post-modern’ dogma that there is no such thing as truth. Feelings are elevated above facts. This is why people talk about ‘my truth’.
    7. Global climate data has only been collected since the 1880’s. Climate changes over hundreds of years, for example, the little ice age and the medieval warming period.
    8. There has been no global warming for the last 20 years (see documents at climateauditor.com) which is why the whole scam is called climate change. The global cooling didn’t eventuate, nor the global warming, nor the Al Gore nonsense.

    9. The biggest greenhouse gas by far is water vapour. CO2 is a minor gas. The medieval warming period was far hotter than today and it was well before the industrial revolution.

    10. There are over 100 disciplines in climate science. There is not one person on the planet that understands it all. The climate alarmism is pushed by bureaucrats and journalists, most of whom have very little education in science.

    11. A lot of these ‘facts’ are through computer modelling. The conclusions of computer modelling are not only inaccurate, they are determined totally by the data that is fed into the program. Therefore, original bias results in a biased outcome.

    12. 31,487 American scientists have signed this petition to reject global warming including 9,029 with PhD’s – http://www.petitionproject.org/

    Some results:

    • I have had small children in my museum school groups who say they do not believe in God but are in tears about the extinction of species and fear that the world will end unless they save it.
    • People have their properties re-classified as ‘remnant vegetation’ and are unable to clear it thus heightening their risk of bushfire with consequent loss of life and property.
    • Huge areas of land locked into national parks which increase the risk of bushfire and leave less area for farming and settlement.
    • Australia makes just 1.3% of global carbon emissions. The making and disposing of solar and wind technology makes huge toxic waste. Developing countries such as China and India are using our coal to develop their countries. They are responsible for most of the world’s pollution and waste as they do not have our pollution regulations.
    • Climate change and environmentalism is a religion. The earth is God, is sacred. People in this system do not count for much. This is why we see the increase in abortion and euthanasia at the same time as vast sums of money are spent on studying bugs, ecosystems and species habitat.

    What does God tell us?

    • God is in charge of the earth, not us. (Genesis 1:1)
    • We have been given the earth for our needs, to care for and to manage. (Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 2:15)
    • The earth had a beginning and will have an end, in God’s own time. (Revelation 21:1)
    • Each person has value as they are created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)
    • God will bless and heal the land if we follow His laws. (Deuteronomy chapter 28)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSrjAXK5pGw – one of a series of YouTubes by Prager University

  • Thanks very much Bill for the article. And thanks also Gail Foster for your most excellent comment. (Whether your grand-daughter paid heed or not, your notes are on-going in value!) E.g. drawing attention to the ‘remnant vegetation’ bushfire menace, and scam — theft by any other name.

  • There used to be a consensus that the Sun orbited the Earth and it’s claimed that there used to be a consensus that the Earth is flat. Consensuses reflect what people want or believe, not what’s true.

    As for the Earth ending, it will one day, but not yet. Before we see that there’ll be the anti-Christ and other such End Time events. Of course churches that substitute faith in Christ for faith in scientists and secularism don’t think in terms of Biblical prophecies so are forced to rely on the predictions of scientists instead. Those who don’t stand for something fall for everything.

  • Go! Gail, right on the ball I’ve always thought that the averages will be maintained ie corrections will happen.

  • Thank you Bill for this very informative article on the climate change issue. It is a pity Prince Harry won’t read it as it might do him some good.

    He said to the reporter on the documentary which was supposed to be about Meghan and Harry’s trip to Africa but not surprisingly climate change and other political issues came into it. He said that science [climate change science presumably] is science and you can’t disagree with it. You have to take notice of it and take it seriously. You would think he would realise that climate change science is NOT settled?

    I think Harry is very easily led and Meghan influences him to jump on every popular band wagon going which will not do the Royal family any good.

  • Thank you for your comments Bill. I have my own website and send out a blog article twice per month. My last one is titled; The Religion of Climate Change. If any of your people would like to read it, it is here: https://www.adefenceofthebible.com/2019/10/14/the-religion-of-climate-change.

  • Ha – “Remnant vegetation”. And if they really believed in evolution then they would never worry about extinction because anything can make itself anyway. Genetic bottleneck? No problem. DNA can generate it’s own new information, so you say.
    So they actually talk evolution but act special (irreplaceable) creation.

  • I agree Tim and don’t evolutionists believe in survival of the fittest? If so, why worry about extinction? That concern comes under a Christian care of the earth. They are not worrying about the extinction of babies. Where is the logic?

  • Thank you Bill for clarifying this hysteria which is totally out of place in Christendom.

    If people really want to *actually* do some significant good for the environment then they should join & support groups that clean our beaches/waterways of the refuse from our excessive plastic-centric lifestyles, which greatly affect both birds & fish/sea mammals and campaign against excessive pollution by industry.

    But it should not be confused with our duty to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and discipleship of the saints.

    And… Gail, that’s a great list.

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