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Science - Environmental Stewardship

Environmental Extremism: a one-world view

Christians know there is another Earth coming

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No intelligent and dedicated Christian wants to dispute the idea that we ought to be judicious about how we conduct ourselves with the planet that God has given us to inhabit and enjoy. Reasonable conservation is, of course, nothing more than good stewardship of those bounties. We applaud efforts at reforestation, preservation of Natural Wonders, and the like. We shouldn't think like the secular environmentalists But our views of the earth ought to collide with those of the environmental extremists who are more concerned about snail darters than about the livelihood of hardworking farmers whose efforts to earn a living are impeded by them. As believers, therefore, it is important for us to consider what God, Himself, has said about the matter. I want to suggest that, in passing, Paul makes an all-important statement in Colossians 2:22a that has been overlooked by many of our people. His words rest upon a worldview that simply is not shared by non-Christians. This dissimilarity in views leads to many of the differences that we find between ourselves and the environmentalists. Here are his words:

“These refer to things that are intended to be used up and perish.”

In the passage Paul is referring to “ascetic” injunctions concerning fasting, various uses of food, and so on, that unbelievers and Judaizers alike sought to impose upon Christians. Paul would have us refuse to follow them. So, in passing – as I indicated above – he says that the things that the world holds sacred, to the Christian, are but items that God has provided for our use. This Earth isn’t meant to last His point is that when they are “used up” that’s OK (assuming they were used in a responsible manner). It is no great tragedy to deplete the supply of fossil fuels, for a species of unusual fish to become extinct, or for the wolves to be banned from lands where they attack and destroy herds of cattle and sheep. “But that is a tragedy,” says someone. “After all, once they are gone – “used up” as your apostle put it – they are gone forever. To lose an animal species or a rainforest is to have suffered an irreparable loss!” Yes, in that objection, you detect quite a different philosophy of existence. Christians should expect outcries from environmentalists about oil drilling in the Arctic, logging in the West, the use of SUVs on our highways, and similar human activities that they believe will noticeably affect the environment. Such objections to these activities are perfectly in accord with the one-world view of the non-Christian. He would be inconsistent to his basic philosophy of existence if he didn’t raise an outcry. “What, then, are you saying,” asks a Christian? No need to cling Simply this. The unbeliever has but one world. He knows nothing of another world to come. He clings to every aspect of the present world‘s assets because, as he believes, once they “perish” they are gone forever. No wonder he is goes to lengths to preserve all that he can. But the Christian looks forward to a new heavens and a new earth that will be so far superior to the present one that he cannot stake everything on what now exists. He looks on the present world as a marvelous creation, in which God had provided all things for us to use and enjoy now – insofar as we can since it is under the curse of sin. Because of that curse, however, nothing will remain forever. Indeed, the book of Ecclesiastes was written to point out that nothing is permanent. And, in that book, like Paul, Solomon tells us to enjoy what we can so long as we are here and the deteriorating world in which we live continues as it is. The clash in opinions that occurs over various environmental issues is, in reality, a clash of a one-world and a two-world view of existence.

Dr. Adams has written more than 100 books, on a variety of subjects. This article was originally posted on the Institute for Nouthetic Studies’ blog (www.nouthetic.org/blog) and is reprinted here with permission.

Sidebar: Prioritizing the living over the hypothetical by Jon Dykstra Atheists have no future hope – no eternity to look forward to – so they are desperate to hold onto what they have now. That’s true for the unbelieving environmentalist, and equally so for the unbelieving health food fanatic: one is worried about the planet, the other his own well-being, but in both cases they are willing to go to extremes to preserve what they have because it is all that they have. A Christian knows better. We know that while life is precious and death is an enemy to be fought, we have another life coming. So we take good care of the body God has given us – we eat healthy and exercise when we can – but we don’t obsess about eliminating every last kettle chip from our diet, or worry about whether we’re getting enough of the latest superfood. We need to be good stewards of what God has given us, and that includes our life, but we don’t need to cling desperately to it. When it comes to our planet, Christians know that not only is another Earth coming, there is a chance it might come very soon. The unbeliever thinks this is it and there ain’t no more, so he’s willing to impose huge burdens on this world’s present population in the faint hope it will extend the Earth’s best before date. But what about the good that money could do right now? Consider this: if we knew the world was going to end in a decade – let’s say scientists saw a gigantic planet-killing comet on the way – would we spend trillions in the hope of making the planet a cooler place in 100 years? No, of course not. Then the choice would be obvious and even the unbeliever would want to spend those trillions on helping people right now. Well, we don’t know when the Christ is going to return, but we know it could happen any time. When we are weighing the needs of people today vs. the needs of people in the future, Christians need to place a very important and clarifying modifier before those future folk: we need to understand they are “hypothetical.” Jesus could come back tomorrow; we don’t know if there will still be children being born in one hundred years. Now, regardless of whether Christ returns this century or not, prioritizing the needs of real people over potential people is the right idea. That doesn't mean have no thought for tomorrow. It does mean the future is uncertain, and we don’t know what it brings. What we do know for certain is that there are millions of children today who are living in poverty, and dying from hunger and preventable sickness. If we seek to "save the future" by, for example, adopting carbon taxes to combat global warming, then we will make oil and gas more expensive, and that will increase the cost of food, shelter, medicine and more for the world's poor. We will hypothetically help the hypothetical populations of the future by actually hurting the actual poor of today. The point I'm arguing for here is a limited one. It could be caricatured as, rape and pillage the earth today, and who cares about the consequences for future generations, but that's not what I'm saying. I'm trying to counter a future-minded approach that wants to preserve the planet and does so by hurting the poorest today. But if that's the tradeoff – if it has to come down to hurting people today, or risking doing so to hypothetical populations of the future, then we should be standing up for the living, breathing, suffering, actual people of today even at an uncertain cost for the future.

Science - Environmental Stewardship

Environmentalism and marriage?

When I first wrote about a marriage/environmentalism connection ten years ago, there was no need to clarify what I wasn't trying to say. But today it seems only prudent to note that while some people are now pretending to "marry" bits of natures – maybe a tree, or the earth, or as happened with one university group, the ocean – that's not what we are talking about here. There is a marriage/environmentalism connection to be found in the Bible. While it takes some digging to find, understanding this connections helps us understand what God wants from our stewardship of the Earth. We find this linkage in Genesis 2:5b. Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible renders the text a little differently than most other versions. Rather than being told there was no man to till, tend or work the earth, Young reads, “…and a man there was not to serve the earth” (emphasis mine). Serve the earth? This doesn’t seem to make sense when you consider that only one chapter earlier man was told to have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28-30). Still, Young’s translation is a legitimate one – the Hebrew word here that is translated as “serve” is translated the same way throughout the rest of the Bible. So how then do we make sense of this call to have dominion, and this verse that tells us we serve the earth? In Exploring the Heritage of John Calvin, Clarence J. Vos makes the point that having authority does not preclude serving. Marriage is an example of this. A husband is given authority over his wife but must love her like his own body, and must love her as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:21-33). He is given authority but must use that authority to build up his wife and family. This idea of "serving authority" makes sense in nature as well. It is our job to rule it, and our responsibility to take care of it as well. This "serving authority" sets Christian environmentalists apart from our secular counterparts who certainly wish to serve nature, but don’t believe Man should have dominion over it....

Science - Environmental Stewardship

The Poor: why we can't let the Global Warming debate be over

It’s been 25 years now since Vice President Al Gore famously declared “Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the Global Warming crisis. The time for debate is over.” Is it different now? We’re still being told the time for talking is done, and yet “warming” has become disputable enough to necessitate a rebranding – now it’s the “Climate Change” debate that’s over. This is a brilliant rhetorical move in so far as climate change is indisputable –  as Heraclitus declared, the one constant in life is change. Despite what we’re being told there is still a lot to discuss. Think it’s a given that we should spend trillions to slow global warming? It’s nowhere near that simple, as E. Calvin Beisner* pointed out in an article last May – there are an “enormous range of opinions among scholars about: • how each of the thousands of subsystems of the climate system will respond to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. • how much warming will come from the added CO2. • how much harm and benefit will come from that warming. • how much benefit will come from the fertilizing effect of rising CO2 on almost all plants. • how to balance those harms and benefits against the benefits of the energy derived from fossil fuels; and • what would be the costs and benefits of efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by substituting other energy sources for fossil fuels” He continued: Earth’s climate system is one of the most complex natural systems ever studied. It consists of thousands of subsystems — feedback mechanisms — most of which we still don’t understand. We don’t know how strong they are or in some cases even whether they increase or decrease warming or the balance of benefits and harms from it. Providing energy to everyone is one of the most complex activities ever undertaken. The cost of reducing fossil fuel use — which now delivers about 85% of all energy in the world — is scores of trillions of dollars that could be used otherwise with far more benefit. This brings us to a key point for Christians to consider: how are the poor being impacted? We have to speak up for them, because they seem to be forgotten in all of this. To underscore just how important it is that we speak up for them, let's remember what happened the last time the United Nations wanted to solve a world crisis. Starting in 1969 the United Nations Population Fund warned the world about the dangers of overpopulation - we were going to run out of food, out of space, and out of resources! As a result of this fear-mongering, millions of children around the world were aborted. In China many mothers were forced to do it, due to China's one-child policy, but in the West it was sometimes a terribly misdirected sense of nobility that drove women to abort, rather than bring another child into a world they were told was crowded to capacity. Except it wasn't, and isn't. Overpopulation was a myth. That's obvious today, as countries like China, Japan, Russia, are already dealing with a different type of population crisis – they have shrinking populations, leaving an increasing number of old people, and fewer and fewer young people to care for them. Even western nations like Germany, Canada, and the United States may start to decline in the not too distant future. This was the crisis that never was. Millions were killed for no reason at all. And Christians should have seen through it from the start. How could we have known? Because God tells us children are a blessing (Ps. 127:3) but overpopulation proponents treated them as more like a curse. When it comes to Climate Change, God gives us clear guidance in His Word once again. No matter what you think of Global Warming – no matter what degree you think it is, or is not, happening – the one thing all Christians can agree on is that we must not oppress the poor (Prov. 14:31). So when we craft climate change policies then we need to ask, how will the world's poorest deal with the rising energy costs, and the rising food costs that come with them? If we help the planet, but hurt the poor, is that a good tradeoff? It's nice to talk about renewable energy, but that's remains expensive and intermittent. How might the poor in Africa, or Asia, or South America be helped if they had access to cheap, reliable fossil fuels? And if we're going to spend trillions to fight carbon emissions, shouldn't we consider what might offer us a better return on that money? How many lives could be saved if we spent those trillions another way? How many millions could be saved with access to clean drinking water? Or a cure for malaria? Or access to housing? Or by the employment opportunities created by natural resource development? We're being told the debate is over but for the sake of the world’s poorest we can't let it be. * E. Calvin Beisner will be the feature speaker for Reformed Perspective's 2017 Spring Tour "The Grass is Greener." He is the author of books on economics, the Trinity, the Psalms, as well as environmental policy, and he is the spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation....

Science - Environmental Stewardship

FREE MOVIE: Blue

Documentary 2014 / 58 minutes Rating: 7/10 Blue is about an alternative – a Christian alternative – to the Green movement. Whereas the secular environmental movement too often sees man as a problem for the Earth, the Blue movement would start with the biblical understanding that Man is the pinnacle of God’s creation, and has been entrusted with the stewardship of the Earth. While the Green movement wants us to just leave things alone, the Blue movement knows that God has told us to take an active role in protecting and developing the Earth. The strength of the film is King’s unabashedly one-sided, presentation: 100% of the film is spent talking to like-minded Christians, politicians and scientists, including some pretty big names like E. Calvin Beisner, Lord Christopher Monckton and Vishal Mangal Wadi. And because this is the side we hear so little about from the mainstream media, this film can serve as a good counter-balance. But the weakness of the film is this same one-sided presentation. I doubt that someone watching this who was already sympathetic to the Green movement would watch this any change their mind. I think it would be more likely that they would think King’s uninterrupted bashing of the Green movement must be unfair, and couldn’t possibly be a fair representation of them. The environmental movement is actually as bad as King portrays but because he never lets the Greens speak for themselves, it is understandable that a skeptical listener wouldn’t just take King’s word for it. The presentation is good, and as documentaries go, it is quite entertaining. That’s another way of saying, if you like documentaries, you’ll like this one, but if you don’t like documentaries, this one isn’t likely to make you change your mind. Overall I’d say it is a great one for Christians, to help us better understand the difference between biblical stewardship and the environmentalist approach, but it probably isn’t a good one to give to your environmentalist friends. You can watch the whole movie for free online. Check it out below. ...