Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Why is this a religious hot-button issue???

From the Washington Post:

Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson and other conservative Christian leaders are calling for the National Association of Evangelicals to silence or fire an official who has urged evangelicals to take global warming seriously.

In a letter this week to the board of the NAE, which claims 30 million members, Dobson and his two dozen co-signers said the Rev. Richard Cizik, the NAE's vice president for government relations, has waged a "relentless campaign" that is "dividing and demoralizing" evangelicals.

Cizik has been a leader in efforts to broaden evangelicals' political agenda beyond abortion and same-sex marriage. He says Christians have a biblical imperative to protect the environment, which he calls "creation care."
Is there a Biblical basis for doubting global warming? Is it scientific? (That would raise more questions, potentially.) Is it political? Seriously, I'm curious.

1 comment:

tODD said...

Keep in mind, of course, that Dobson and Focus on the Family are just one particular group of Christians. Believing that they speak for all Christians -- or all evangelicals, or anything other than themselves -- just gives them more credence than they deserve.

That said, I've done my fair share of verbal sparring with conservative Christians over global warming, and it's given me some insight into your question. Doesn't mean you'll like the answer, though. But it has to do with both science and politics.

Regarding science, these Christians feel that science has, in the past century or so, turned against them. This stems largely from the topics of cosmology (i.e. the Big Bang) and evolution. In these two particular areas, science has contradicted the Christian view on creation. And there's been ugly animosity between some scientists and some Christians on this issue.

Of course, it's not that these Christians view all science disapprovingly. But you'll note that all of these topics -- evolution, cosmology, and global warming -- deal with scientific theories that cannot be replicated. They all involve very large stretches of time and interpreting the past from the present. Sure, global warming at least involves potential input from us now, but things are fuzzy enough that there's at least reasonable doubt -- after all, I don't think the mechanisms behind previous temperature fluctuations (which were presumably not human-caused) is understood yet. So there's all that.

On the other hand, there's politics. There's little doubt that the modern environmental movement is left-leaning, and people in Dobson's camp are right-leaning. Oh, let's be honest -- they're Republicans. So there's added distrust of anything coming from the left. There's also the tendency of environmental solutions to be heavy on government, taxation, etc. -- statist things. Which, again, is counter to these people's (supposed) libertarian leanings. Yes, I know they're not real libertarians in all kinds of situations, but that's what you hear from them when you ask about global warming: how the gubmint's gonna take away their SUV and make them drive Yugos and so on.

Add to those main points the general dearth of scientific literacy, and you might see where they're coming from, even if you (or I) disagree, in part or whole. Of course, to be fair, many people on the environmentalist side are just as scientifically ignorant. As I have said in a previous comment, most of us, on either side, are just reading articles we find on the subject. And we tend to select articles or judge evidence based on the mindset we already had, so we tend to reinforce our opinions.