A common claim by some conservative evangelicals not overly concerned with climate change is that God will eventually step in to stop it, or that the earth is naturally fine-tuned to prevent catastrophe, so we ought not worry.
Do you agree?
Personally I don’t think this is how God works. God is the light in the darkness, not a cosmic butler. Even if God was one, he has to let humans know the consequences of their negative actions.
The Earth has survived a mass extinction about every 66 millions years and we are most likely due one right about now, but the Earth and life has survived each time. The Earth will go through many more of these events in the remaining useful life of the Earth. So there is no reason to think that life will cease to exist anytime soon. The Earth is a very resilient design.
However, this does not mean I necessarily agree with the most popular assessment of what is going on. On the rise of CO2 for example, I think the most important culprit is the degradation of the ozone layer damaging the ability of the earth to convert CO2 back into oxygen.
The Bible tells of instances where God has intervened. But the Bible also tells of God decisions to stop a great deal of His intervention on our behalf, such as in Genesis 8:21-22 after the flood.
The abdication of responsibility to God has always been a problem in religion and I think it is even the essence of the fall of Adam and Eve, separating man from God – one of the reasons why a relationship with God is not always of benefit to people. But religion does not require us to abdicate responsibility like this. It can also do the opposite and call us to greater responsibility – and this is perhaps when religion is of most benefit to people.
The planet is resilient, yes. We humans on the other hand … could also be seen as resilient in terms of having surviving remnants here and there! Sound like a party yet?
It boggles my mind as to why some would find comfort in this. It’s sort of like saying “yeah - I know that’s gangrene growing on my leg there, and it kinda hurts. But I’m not too worried because I see a really smart doctor standing over there with a bone saw. They’ll take care of it.”
And you would be absolutely right. They will … when they cut your leg off!
Ask any of the ancient Israelites or Egyptians about this. When God does something [later recognized as God’s action] it’s usually more toward the apocalyptic end of the spectrum and less on the “Great! Now I think I’ll have a crumpet and a spot of tea” side of that scale.
Yeah, I’ve certainly heard claims of this sort before, and believed them myself. And they also come from the perspective of those who do not believe we’ve had any “mass extinctions” in the past (other than the flood, which was divinely appointed).
Interestingly, while many evangelicals don’t believe in “human-caused” climate change, they/we will still believe in “human-caused” extinctions or near-extinctions – just in the form of divine punishment – i.e., “those people” were so morally deficient that God simply had to wipe them out. I think this might be one reason why, in my experience, many conservative American Christians simply don’t see environmental concerns as nearly as high a priority as moral ones. If a climate disaster were to occur, it would probably be chalked up to God’s judgment of America’s moral decay (because it’s all about America, right? ), rather than something we could have actually prevented through less-spiritual means.
I think there’s something to be said for “natural consequences” – in the sense that God has built justice into the system and sometimes lets it take its course – whether that’s viewed as “divine judgment” or not. To be honest, I can understand the comfort in believing that God would prevent a worldwide catastrophe until we reach the end times. Though many believe we’re already in the “end times,” so who knows.
While I do personally belive that we should be worried about climate change and other such issues I take faith that God will restore creation to some degree or type as told in Revelation 21.But until then we need to do what we can and keep the earth from burning up or blowing up.
Planet Earth is home to a lot of different creatures, not just human beings, so perhaps if anything needs to be “fixed,” it’s the human notion that our needs and concerns far outweigh anything else in the cosmic scheme of life. I’m really not sure that the planet’s built-in redundancies (redundancies that keep the planet stable during times of geological and climatic upheaval) are meant to protect our shopping malls and designer homes.
We’re used to thinking of the planet as an unchanging template upon which we can build anything we like. But anyone who’s gone through a flood or a wildfire or an earthquake knows the planet is always in flux and nothing is guaranteed.
I like to think we’re at our best when we respect what God has created here, not taking it for granted but also not believing we understand the Earth better than God does. When we respect the planet by using what we need – while not hoarding, not assuming we’re entitled to take whatever we want (like the Aral Sea), and not falling out of balance with the rest of life on the planet – we have a chance to participate with integrity in God’s good Creation.
I don’t see any reason to think God will “fix” the earth from any particular disasters (climate or otherwise). My perspective is that we should take care of the environment and natural resources and be good stewards of them, considering long-term impacts. But that stewardship takes resources to perform (e.g. financial, human power, etc.) and I do believe it’s not always the top priority of how to spend those resources. I think that’s the perspective of many I know–“Earth is decaying anyway, and the Great Commission is to save souls, not the planet.”
Now, what does befuddle me is why people see climate change as something they have to “disbelieve.” I never understood that, even when I saw evolution as a threat to God’s Word. Like, what is inherent about concern for increasing destruction of our planet that screams “MUST BE REJECTED”?
Yeah, I know what you mean. I assume it must have something to do with a “guilty by association” view of things, so that when “environmentalism” becomes a dirty word, then the veracity of anything that seems like it could possibly have to do with it is automatically on thin ice – it just all gets lumped together with humanism or atheism, at least in my experience.
Found an interezting scripture today: (Habakkuk 2:17)
“For the violence done to Lebanon shall cover you,
And the destruction of the beasts shall terrify you;
Because of men’s blood shed,
And violence done to the land,
To the city and all who dwell in it.”
Is this a condemnation of ecological destruction of the cedars of lebanon, or just a statement thst they shall be destroyed as rhey destroyed trees and animals, but for thr shedding of man’s blood?
I think the problem that American evangelicals assume that somehow they are above God’s judgement (except for abortion.) I think that our current crisis demonstrates that American evangelicals are not above God’s judgment, but to the contrary and they taking our nation and the world down with them. This is a sad ending for a very proud people, clearly too proud for their own good.
Evangelicals are allowing themselves to be manipulated by their legalistic theology and abused by self-serving leaders. For shame.
My feeling is that it is like so many issues today, it has nothing to do with merits of the position, but is a political marker that you must have to be part of the tribe. To accept global warming for a Republican is sort of like being being a anti-abortion Democrat: possible, but you will always live on the outskirts of the village, and never get invited to the high council.
@jpm, Bro. Phil your cynicism is unbecoming. Christians are called to follow Christ, not follow the world. That means to me that our views on how to live in this world is not based on the ideology of a political party, but God’s call on our lives. We make that determination and then see how it is best carried out in the political world of ours.
You strongly imply that Democrats are in favor of abortion. That is a lie. Democrats for the most part are against abortion, but understand that there are some situations where they can be justified for the health of the mother.
[political content removed]
On the other hand global warming is a social issue that affects us all as well as future generations. Also it affects our relationship to God Who is the Creator of our world. We do not demonstrate gratitude for God Creation by destroying it.
Evangelicals have been misled into believing that Democrats represent the Anti-Christ, therefore allowing leaving them bound to the real Anti-Christ.
The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small-- and for destroying those who destroy the earth."
I used to say God wouldn’t let humans mess up his planet, though in retrospect I think it was highly motivated tribalistic thinking against those pesky environmentalists who allegedly cared more about animals than people… and besides, who cared about several generations in the future when the Rapture was probably coming pretty soon, anyway…
Now I think I would try to converse with someone who believed what I used to by moving past the false dichotomy and asking, How much affect do you think God would let humans have on the Earth before intervening? My understanding is that earlier Christians didn’t even think God would let creatures go extinct, but we know he lets humans cause extinctions. We also know God let humans blast a hole in the ozone layer and let them fix it relatively quickly by globally banning the chemicals that caused it. Point being, we haven’t found the limit yet on what God will let us do to the earth… so why try to find it?? And then I would hope that maybe that creates a nice opening to contrast with the theology of stewardship and creation care and how that can exist, not in competition to evangelicalism, but as part of a holistic theology…
That sounds an awful lot like my thinking used to be as well. I also think about how, if humans are so much more important than the rest of nature, God has also allowed us to kill millions of people at a time with atomic bombs, and so if he’d allow that, why on earth would he be more sensitive when it comes to animals and the environment? But I think I always saw WW2 and related violence as “proof” that the end was near. And maybe it still is, I don’t know. But if we’re all going to be environmental defeatists then we’ll be in a lot more trouble if the end isn’t near.
But how clearer could Isaiah 37:24 be? Or Deuteronomy 20:19? Wasting the earth’s resources is a sin. I also like Wendell Berry’s suggestion that we should use nature as a measure for the usefulness of the earth, if the earth is able to sustain more biodiversity, it is more arable, fertile and plentiful and thus better for human use.
Yeah, I’m still very fuzzy on the specifics of proposed end-times scenarios, but I’d still agree that it’s better to protect as well as we can and show appropriate care for creation – people, animals, environments, etc.