Thursday, September 21, 2006
Christians and Creation - A Positive Approach I
But the question remains, in light of that differeing view - What should a Christian do about the "environment"? In the first place I am not sure we should do anything about the environment per se. In general when we make an "issue" out of anythig we run a risk of it becoming more important than the motivations that drove us to it to begin with. As Christians we seek to become like Christ. That will have ramifications in terms of our relationship to creation, but they should be approached as side effects and not as "an issue."
So, that being said I want to look at some principles and viewpoints that should be used to inform your actions - your living out of life as a Christian - as you relate to creation. I'll start with the most obvious one first.
As this article readily points out - the issue really resides in the science, not the scripture and there is much debate on the science and even more on the policy. (HT: Justin Taylor) This leads naturally to he first principle a Christian simply must apply when considering "the environment" - Skepticism.
You must remember, nearly everything you will see written on the subject is written by those that have a very different worldview than you. This worldview will affect both how they do the science and how they interpret the results. It is, for example, a very different thing scientifically to ask the question "Is the earth warming?" as compared to "What, if any, changes are their to the general climate of the planet?" One question seeks to see if there is a problem, the other simply investigates a scientific fact. One has an agenda, the other doesn't.
A Christian, coming from their own decidely different viewpoint, must strip all the agenda, all the other viewpoint, from what they are reading and seek the nuggest of reality buried therein. That is the essence of skepticism.
Skepticism is also important because a great deal of sophistication is necessary to even understand the science that is being done. It is common to compare data gathered from very different sources temporally, methodolgically, and geographically, and then use blindly complicated statistical methods to blend these various sources into a single picture - without mention that such methodologies have limitations, margins of error, and discontinuities in that "single picture."
This form of skepticism is difficult to exercise without a great deal of training. Most people will have to chose between competing "experts" - they end up chosing "who" to believe instead of "what" to believe. This really calls for skepticism - on what basis can such a choice be made? It can't be based on agreement with you, since presumably you have no opinion, that is why you are turning to the experts.
I would suggest examining who to believe on two important bases. First - Do they share your worldview as I have previosuly articulated? If they do not, how can you take anything they offer at face value? You are forced to examine everything they say skeptically, which puts you back in the "what" question where you do not want to be.
Secondly, you should ask what an expert has to gain from the viewpoint they present. Make no mistake, global warming, and the environment in general, is an industry. I should know, I am a part of it. From lawsuits to research grants, from alternative energy technology to tourism, charitable foundations to political platforms, a lot of people are making a lot of money, and gaining a lot of power, off this stuff. It is in their best interest to have a crisis, or create one, and then offer a solution.
In the next couple of posts we'll look at positive perspectives a Christian should have.
Part II is here.
Part III is here.
Part IV is here.
Part V is available here.
Related Tags: environment, global warming, Christians, skepticism