One of the six reasons David Kinnaman outlines for young Christian’s leaving the church is that the church is perceived as being anti-science. (You can read an overview of the other reasons in my Dad’s post here).
My experience here is a little unique. My Dad works with grad students who work in all sorts of fields including physics, chemistry, engineering, etc. I’ve known many people who practice their faith and their science alongside each other. My workplace is full of lots of technical people, engineers of all stripes and programmers. And faith is in the house there as well, both in my little group and in conversations with other people. In other words, I know lots of smart people who believe as well, and who practice their faith in their work as well as in their church.
But here’s where I get tripped up, global warming or climate change, or just general care for the environment.
Here’s a little of what I’m talking about (Warning this is Louis CK so there’s quite a bit of language):
Somewhere along the way it became less about taking care of the planet God gave us, and more about keeping the economy going.
Now I know climate change isn’t exactly settled science, but there is definitely reason for concern. Even if our burning of oil is not changing our atmosphere, things are measurably different than they used to be. I’ve heard the argument that this might just be a planet cycle and we have nothing to do with it. That may be true (though I kinda doubt it), but whether we’re the cause or not, we need to be part of the solution, because it could be our survival we’re talking about.
Okay, lot of maybes and what ifs there. I recognize this is an area for discussion. What bothers me is the outright rejection of that discussion.
And unfortunately I have seen a lot of what CK is talking about, both at times in my church, and in my work.
This kind of anti-science mentality is more damning I think than evolution. The debate about evolution and creationism is an esoteric one. At the end of the day, does it really affect our day to day lives which is true? And for that matter, many Christians, myself included, are perfectly comfortable with the idea of evolution as part of creationism.
But if weather patterns change, if water levels and temperatures rise, that’s going to matter to our real lives, even the economy. Rejecting climate change and creation care kind of makes Christians hypocrites. We’re called to take care of what God gave us, to be faithful stewards of this world. That doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want with the Earth’s resources. We’ve driven hundreds of species to extinction, we’ve mined the ground and stripped the forest. And because America set such a good example, the emerging world is doing the same thing, and getting smog filled air in return.
Ultimately I’m still in the church because I do see some good examples of people who care about this stuff (my Dad and my pastor), but I know plenty of places where this is not true. The church needs to take a hard look at its stance on issues like this, and pull themselves away from the viewpoints of a “Jesus and” mentality. I’m not asking you all to be democrats (because I’m not one, neither am I a republican), but I am asking you to think about our responsibilities here, and the potential dangers as well as the potential good that come from clean energy, and turning climate change around.
Okay, now that I’ve riled you up I’ll pass you back to Dad 🙂
8 responses to “You Almost Lost Me: Creation Care”
Yes. We are crazy… but with good intent… sometimes.
For the record, climate change is settled science, but other than that you were spot on.
If nothing else, our understanding of the effects and extent of climate change is evolving. And it would be unfair to completely ignore some of the objections raised to some of the scientific methodology. By “settled science” I mean that a majority accepts it as true (in addition to being scientifically proven to be true) and there is debate about climate change (even if it may not appear to be factually based). It’s an imprecise term to be sure, but think of it as a general consensus. Now the general consensus has and will probably continue to be wrong about a great many things (everything revolving around the Earth for instance), but climate change is not gravity in people’s minds yet, and it is prudent to acknowledge that. Thanks for echoing 🙂
that makes sense, thanks for clearing that up, I’m always happy to throw in my two cents, aren’t I charitable.
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Another thoughtful post, Ben! I find this issue challenging in part because there are such cross-currents in it.
The counter-culture of my generation tended to refuse the responsibility of dominion in favor of a hoped-for intimacy with Nature (sometimes as Creation, but mostly not, I think). So the older Conservationism was rejected as human over-reach of various sorts, even as a newer Environmentalism called humans’ place in the world into question. I think CreationCare sits uneasily with the latter not because the environment doesn’t have a claim to our care, but because our proper relationship to it isn’t agreed.
My generation also expressed a strong objection to the authority of Business (whether as “commercial interests” or as “the economy.” But many have now embraced the authority of Science, and of certain forms of media. I hear you offering science a tentative embrace: I’m curious in what other ways that embrace is warm, tentative or not on offer. And I wonder whether there are authorities you tend to trust, others you tend to reject.