Christianity: Doctrine and Ethics

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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How Does One Measure the “Global” Temperature?

Conservative commentator, Mark Levin, opens the section in his book entitled “Enviro-Statism” with this accusation of the statist ideologue: “His pursuit, after all, is power, not truth. With the assistance of a pliant or sympathetic media, the Statist uses junk science, misrepresentations, and fear-mongering to promote public health and environmental scares, because he realizes that in a true, widespread health emergency, the public expects the government to act aggressively to address the crisis, despite traditional limitations on governmental authority.”[1] Is this true? Apparently, the signatories of “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action,” which is part of the Evangelical Climate Initiative do not believe Levin’s words.

Claim 1 reads, “Human-Induced Climate Change is Real. Since 1995 there has been general agreement among those in the scientific community most seriously engaged with this issue that climate change is happening and is being caused mainly by human activities.” (Emphasis added.) Now many believe this statement, but disbelieve Levin. One of the most relevant questions that needs to be asked is this: Are those signatories—and others like them—relying on what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says without any personal investigation? Most do not feel qualified to discuss something as complex and convoluted as how weather works, so we are willing to leave that to the “experts,” who perform this boring work for a living. Why these scientists have probably never watched an episode of American Idol, don’t know which team Brett Favre plays for, what Tiger Woods’ shot at Augusta, or Ichiro Suzuki’s batting average is. Most of them probably believe that Elvis is still dead. That’s how out of touch they are. But they do serve a positive function for us. They study the environment so we don’t have to.

In the midst of this, we hardly ever ask even simple questions like: how do you actually measure the temperature of the globe? How do variants such as a temperature reading in Antarctica and in Honolulu average out? Once a reading has been taken from a weather balloon and a ship at some point in the vast ocean, how are they harmonized? Computer models? Are they reliable? How do we know? We’ll touch on computer models in a moment, but the notion of “global” warming appears silly on its face.

So when the IPCC comes out with position papers, we tend to rely on a few people reading them for us and then telling us what they conclude so we, in our turn, can feign upset about the environment, even though we’re not willing to give up on big oil and electricity quite yet. The IPCC report that the signatories cling to (which is different from clinging to one’s Bible and guns) also vilifies CO2 as a culprit in causing global warming. So I want to take a few moments in this installment of Ethos and look at CO2 and the development of the IPCC reports.

Is CO2 Really That Bad?

To hear Al Gore, the IPCC, and its hangers-on say it, one would believe that we are on the eve of destruction. Dr. Ian Plimer of Australia disagrees. In fact, you can add his name to your list of eminent scientists who believe that global warming, as it is presented to us today by the IPCC, the media, and the hacks and pundits is bogus. Dr. Plimer is a well-qualified scientist who has written a new and provocative book entitled Heaven and Earth. Global Warming the Missing Science.[2]

Plimer is convinced that to one degree or another, “We are all environmentalists.”[3] This begs the question: what kind of environmentalist are you? You see, there is more than one kind. “Some of us underpin our environmentalism with political and romantic views of the environment, some underpin their environmental view with economic pragmatism and many, like me, try to acquire an integrated scientific understanding of the environment.”[4] In short, this integrated approach takes into account matters such as life, ice sheets, oceans, atmosphere, rocks and extraterrestrial phenomena which influence our planet.[5] Note well: Plimer is not talking about Martians or flying saucers.

He is convinced that there are a number of “dynamic” factors at work and in play on planet earth, but he does not put God into the equation. What he does do and say, however can help us from a “common grace” standpoint. He writes, “Climate has always changed. It always has and always will. Sea level has always changed. Ice sheets come and go. Life always changes. Extinctions of life are normal.”[6] Thank you! This gives us another good reason to shake off the chains of political correctness and environmental tyranny.

So what about the culprit CO2? Plimer declares, “The Earth’s climate is driven by the receipt and redistribution of solar energy. Without this, there would be no life on Earth. Despite well-documented linkages between climate and solar activity, the Sun tends to be brushed aside as the driver of climate on Earth in place of a trace gas (carbon dioxide—CO2), most of which derives from natural processes. The CO2 in the atmosphere is only 0.001% of the total CO2 held in the oceans, surface rocks, air, soils and life.”[7]

“But,” someone may object, “what about the supercomputers scientists use to gather their information?” Good question. Plimer’s answer, however, is this: “Calculations on supercomputers, as powerful as they may be, are a far cry from the complexity of the planet Earth, where the atmosphere is influenced by processes that occur deep within the Earth, in the oceans, in the atmosphere, in the Sun and in the cosmos.”[8]

There are other issues as well. For example, “If we look at the history of CO2 over time, we see that atmospheric CO2 content has been far higher than at present for most of time.”[9] Even more enlightening is his assertion that “To argue that human emissions of CO2 are forcing global warming requires all the known, and possibly chaotic, mechanisms of natural global warming to be critically analysed and dismissed. This has not even been attempted. To argue that we humans can differentiate between human-induced climate changes and natural climate change is naïve.”[10]

Moreover, many are so under the influence of the media that they are convinced that CO2 is a pollutant. It is not.[11] In fact, quite the opposite is the case. “Global warming and a high CO2 content bring prosperity and lengthen your life.”[12] You will not hear that on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, or ABC. You have to wonder why, don’t you? Rather than being a pollutant, CO2 “is plant food, is necessary for life, and without CO2 there would be no complex life on Earth.”[13]

Why Would You Sign the IPCC Reports?

In 1896, a Swedish chemist attempted to calculate crudely what would happen concerning CO2 and the burning of fossil fuels. His calculations led him to conclude that if atmospheric CO2 doubled, the temperature on earth could increase by five degrees Celsius. His prognostications proved false. The history of science is filled with predictions and failures and “our time” is no different, although some credulous beings tend to believe that we’re all going to roast and time is running out—rapidly.

On June 24, 1974, Time ran a piece that warned we were heading towards a new Ice Age. Newsweek followed suit in 1975, as did that paragon of unbiased reporting National Geographic in 1976. There was no doubt. Scientists agreed that the earth was rushing towards global cooling. I have my own theory and it is this: In the run up to President Jimmy Carter’s presidency (otherwise known as the “Index of Misery” by those of us who barely survived it), everything from the temperatures to bank accounts cooled off precipitously. So sure was science and the popular magazines that the earth was cooling that Lowell Ponte stated, “Global cooling present humankind with the most important social, political, and adaptive challenge we have had to deal with for 110,000 years. Your stake in the decisions we make concerning it is of ultimate importance: the survival of ourselves, our children, our species.”[14]

The media laugh and scoff—rightly—when some evangelical’s head gets so big that he or she feels the compunction to predict the return of Jesus. Why don’t they, however, hammer Mr. Ponte as well? We all know the answer to that one. Anyway, fast forward to April 3, 2006 and without a word of apology for misleading the masses, Time devotes an issue to global warming. All the news fit to print. Oh, that was the New York Times. Sorry. The renewed interest in the latest fad—global warming—caught Al Gore’s attention and drew him away from his labors of inventing the Internet long enough for him to chair a meeting of the US Senate Committee on Science, Technology and Space in 1989. Thankfully, this hearing didn’t last long and allowed politicians to move on to important issues such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and universal health care.

But allow me to sketch a brief time line of how we came by the IPCC document. In 1990, this established UN entity became concerned after a number of climate experts such as Robert Redford, Barbra Streisand, and Meryl Streep helped make opposition to global warming fashionable. Therefore, under this undue pressure, “The IPCC gathered many climatologists, meteorologists, environmentalists and political activists and published several voluminous publications, the first of which was 1990.”[15] Like most of our important legislation these days, which is also so voluminous that our elected officials vote on it before they read it, few read or understood the contents of these reports and articles. To this date, those who contributed are touted as the 2,500 scientific experts that constitute a “consensus” about global warming.

In the 1996 edition—and this is funny—one contributor on the impact of global warming was a health expert, whose field of expertise was the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets. I should mention that the same author had written on the health effects of mobile phones. Others were environmental activists and one very specialized expert had written on the dangerous effects of mercury poisoning in land mines. There must be a doctoral dissertation in there somewhere. Are you kidding me? If you step on a land mine, mercury poisoning is the very least of your worries. More important, however, is the fact that “Those who drove the publication of the chapters on the health effects of global warming had no formal expertise in the chapters’ subject material…”[16]

What this boils down to is this: “if we investigate the biographies of the 2500 ‘climate scientists’, we find that many were not even scientists. To claim that this group of 2500 people represents the world’s top scientists is untrue.”[17] The upshot is that the IPCC produced a Summary for Policymakers in 1996 that stated “the balance of evidence suggests that there is discernible human influence on global climate.” Don’t you love it when people lie to you and the media backs them up? It’s even a tougher pill to swallow when so-called evangelical leaders like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, and Jim Wallis sign this kind of nonsense and there are no repercussions from the evangelical community. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and refine my calculations on the Second Coming.

[1] Mark Levin, Liberty and Tyranny, (NY: Threshold Editions, 2009), p. 114.

[2] Ian Plimer, Heaven and Earth, (NY: Taylor Trade Publishing, 2009).

[3] Ibid., 9.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., 10.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., 11.

[9] Ibid., 12.

[10] Ibid. Emphasis added.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Lowell Ponte, The Cooling. Has the Next Ice Age Begun? Cited by Plimer, Heaven, 18.

[15] Ibid. 19. Emphasis added.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid., 20.


Friday, September 11, 2009

The Seen & Unseen Things

Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) wrote two books that should be mandatory reading for all Americans. The first is entitled simply The Law and the other bears the title That Which is Seen & That Which is Not Seen. As he opens his little work That Which is Seen & That Which is Not Seen, he writes this: “In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to an effect, but to a series of effects. Of these effects, the first only is immediate; it manifests itself simultaneously with its cause—it is seen. The others unfold in succession—they are not seen: it is well for us if they are foreseen.”[1]

Some might be thinking, “This is all well and good, but I am not an economist and quite frankly find economics boring.” That would be too bad, but Bastiat continues and reminds us that “the true economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.”[2] Then he adds, “In fact, it is the same in the science of health, arts, and in that of morals. If [sic] often happens, that the sweeter the first fruit of a habit is, the more bitter are the consequences.”[3] In the course of his explanation, Bastiat encourages us by saying, “Let us accustom ourselves, then, to avoid judging of things by what is seen only, but to judge of them by that which is not seen.”[4]

This is a great lesson for us, all the more because we want to take proper care of the earth. Progressive secularists believe that God’s words to man about having dominion over the earth and subduing it give Christians a carte blanche to rape the earth. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The clarion call in Genesis 1:26-28 is that true biblical stewardship and preservation entails doing things God’s way and thinking his thoughts after him. As a matter of information, this mandate continues to be directed to believer and non-believer alike. The only way a secular environmentalist can truly be an environmentalist is to acknowledge God and follow his directives.

In the long run, we want to make wise use of the resources that God has placed at our disposal, but, simultaneously, we must be acutely aware of the ideologies and presuppositions behind the current discussions—the things that are not seen. Everyone has an agenda. The U.N. has one as does the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that is connected to the U.N. Claim 1 of The Evangelical Climate Initiative states that The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world’s most authoritative body of scientists and policy experts on global warming. The first part of that statement is patently false. 5,000 scientists signed the document, but 32,000 equally authoritative scholars refused to sign it. The phrase “policy experts” frightens me because it smacks of a room full of President Obama’s czars, like Van Jones, Mark Lloyd, and Cass Sunstein, just to mention a few.

Two people who carry no brief for Christianity, Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier, have co-authored a little book called Ecofascism. Lesson from the German Experience.[5] In the Introduction, they point out that “ecologism” has long roots “in nineteenth-century nature mysticism.”[6] This would explain, in part, why the American counterparts to this history are also enamored of animals more than humans, like Cass Sunstein, who has imbibed heavily of the bioethics of Peter Singer. Mr. Sunstein, by the way, is America’s new regulatory czar, which portends of many yet unforeseen things that are not good.

But apart from the nature mysticism in Germany in the nineteenth century, these co-authors make a connection between the seemingly harmless and naïve nature mysticism and the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich. They inform us that “Nazi ‘ecologists’ even made organic farming, vegetarianism, nature worship, and related themes into key elements not only in their ideology but in their governmental policies.”[7] Much of this easily translates into the American phenomenon of environmentalism. Both authors agree “that the ‘ecological scene’ of our time—with its growing mysticism and antihumanism—poses serious problems about the direction in which the ecology movement will go.”[8]

The Green Wing of the Nazi Party

In 1934, Ernst Lehmann penned Biologischer Wille, Wege und Ziele biologischer Arbeit im neuen Reich. That groundbreaking work contained the following thoughts: “We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a reintegration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger. That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole…. This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we were born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought.” (Emphasis added.)

Lehmann’s expressions were already present in the thought of Ernst Arndt. Some of the nature mysticism about which the co-authors wrote is reflected in Arndt’s 1815 article on conservation and his concerns regarding deforestation. In that article, Arndt said this: “When one sees nature in a necessary connectedness and interrelationship, then all things are equally important—shrub, worm, plant, human, stone, nothing first or last, but all one single unity.” (Emphasis added.) In our modern situation, we could mention the fanaticism behind preserving a particular species of field mouse or the smelt fish in California.

If you go to, you’ll find statements on that site that emphatically state that California’s water supply is in such grave danger that we must conserve and for those who will not comply, the law will step in and levy fines. What they do not tell us there is that California has a dam that is 95% complete that will supply—more than adequately—the water demands for the entire state. The problem, however, is that greenies have put a stop to the completion of the dam through excessive, bogus litigation because of their inordinate concern about the smelt fish. Never mind that they have been assured that the precious smelt fish (we all enjoy a nice dinner of smelt, don’t we?) is in no harm. The upshot of this litigation is that many farmers in California cannot get adequate water for their crops, so their farms are shutting down. What is clear in what ostensibly concerns the environment is Arndt’s notion that man is no better than a shrub, worm, or tit mouse. Anyone with a modicum of sense ought to see how absurd this is. Every Christian, surely, ought to see and comprehend that being made in God’s image places man on a different scale than a smelt fish.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, Germany experienced a phenomenon called the völkisch Bewegung. Essentially, this movement was in reaction to the rise of industrialism, capitalism, and urbanization. This movement reveled in the nature mysticism already present and prevalent among some social engineers in Germany. These thinkers “preached a return to the land, to the simplicity and wholeness of a life attuned to nature’s purity.”[9] It was this notion that brought with it a plethora of cultural prejudices and that had a profound impact on twentieth century political discourse in Germany. This led, in time, to the actual coining of the term “ecology” by the German zoologist, Ernst Haeckel. What is interesting about Haeckel is he was “the chief popularizer of Darwin and evolutionary theory for the German-speaking world, and developed a peculiar sort of social Darwinist philosophy he called ‘monism.’”[10]

Regarding the concept of monism, Peter Jones writes, “In the deconstructed postmodern world of fractured beliefs and autonomous, unconnected people, the goddess brings good news. She offers an integrated worldview that addresses the great concerns and hopes of our day: ecological wisdom, economic justice, human rights, women’s liberation, equality and harmony between the sexes, personal significance, global peace, utopian dreams, and deep spirituality.”[11] Clearly, obviously, there is a powerfully strong religion component both to America’s infatuation with environmentalism as well as Germany’s. Jones adds, “the new, global religion seeks to undermine Christianity by presenting itself as cutting edge spirituality that will save the planet, and Christianity as hopelessly and intolerably out of touch. According to this approach, Christianity’s worldview has ‘been slowly dissolving from Western consciousness.’”[12]

Matthew Fox wrote Coming of the Cosmic Christ, with the subtitle, “The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance.” Jones sees through the façade and concludes, “In other words, ecology leads us to this new religion of union with all creatures.”[13] What we call ecology or environmentalism did not just appear on the radar screen. It has a long history and we all would do well to heed just how pagan it is.

[1] Frederic Bastiat, That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen, (West Valley City, UT: Walking Lion Press, 2006), p. 1.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 8.

[5] Janet Biehl & Peter Staudenmaier, Ecofascism, (Edinburgh: AK Press, 1995).

[6] Ibid., 1.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., 2.

[9] Ibid., 7.

[10] Ibid., 7-8.

[11] Peter Jones, Capturing the Pagan Mind, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2003), p. 70.

[12] Ibid., 80.

[13] Peter Jones, Spirit Wars, (Escondido, CA: Main Entry Editions, 1997), p. 57.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Danger of Being Unequally Yoked

At the close of our last installment, I mentioned that we would examine God’s covenant with Noah in order to ascertain if there are any scriptural lessons Christians can take away from the Bible and bring to the ongoing climate change debate. We have been interacting with the Evangelical Climate Initiative’s article “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” We have noted that a number of “name brand” folks, who call themselves Christians, have signed on to this document, including Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis. The question I raised last time had to do with just how far we ought to follow non-Christians in accepting as “gospel truth” a particular position on an issue.

Our issue here is global warming/climate change. Actually, the debate does not focus on whether climate changes or has changed in the past. We agree that it does and it has. In addition, no one is questioning the use of secular sources when debating certain points. Common grace extends far and wide. Simultaneously, we need to be aware that when we quote non-Christian sources, we are dealing with a person with an entirely different life and worldview from the Christian one. Many—most—secular scientists, for example, accept Darwinism as one of their axioms in their investigations. Others are convinced that the earth is millions if not billions of years old. Thus, the argument about using sources outside of the Christian faith is not an issue here, although as a necessary caveat, we should do so with care.

I say all this because the signatories to the ECI document have accepted the claims of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their opening salvo under Claim 1 (Human-Induced Climate Change is Real), reads, “Since 1995 there has been general agreement among those in the scientific community most seriously engaged with this issue that climate change is happening and is being caused mainly by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels. Evidence gathered since 1995 has only strengthened this conclusion.” (p. 2.)

In the course of these articles, we intended to investigate this assertion, but for today we want to discuss some matters that separate—or should separate—the Christians from the non-Christians, even though some who call themselves Christians will disagree with some of what I’m about to say. What I’m going to do is to lay down a framework about why God sent the Flood in the first place and then what he promised to Noah and his family after the Flood.

After man’s fall into sin and God’s promise of deliverance (Gen. 3:15), we enter into a new phase of biblical revelation called the covenant of grace. Now man is a sinner and is at enmity with God. As a run up to God’s covenant with Noah we read this in the Bible: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5.) This text speaks of the radical depravity of man and of the sinful nature of sin. Therefore, God sends the Flood and destroys the inhabitants on the earth except Noah and his family. Chapter 9 of Genesis speaks to us about God’s covenant with Noah after the Flood and we are informed of certain “particulars” regarding it. There are many facets to this covenant administration, but allow me to give the following:

First, this covenant is universal in scope, including every living creature (Gen. 9:9-10).

Second, it is unconditional. That is to say, it cannot be annulled by human unfaithfulness.

Third, the (rain)bow in the heavens is a constant reminder that God will be faithful to his promise.

Fourth, it is an everlasting covenant. (Gen. 9:11.)

Finally, it is totally unilateral in nature. God imposes this covenant administration sovereignly and makes it with animate and inanimate objects, with organic and inorganic matter.

After Noah built an altar and sacrificed to the Lord, God gave him this promise: “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creation as I have done. While earth remains. Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Gen. 9:21-22.)

This is a sure promise, but it seems that many have forgotten this truth. When I was a kid growing up, the threat that hung like a pall over life was the Cold War. People built bomb shelters, stocked them with pork and beans and beer and believed the doomsday scenarios. In the sixth grade, we practiced getting under our wooden desks in the event of a nuclear holocaust. There’s nothing like a wooden desk to protect you from being vaporized. As if that were not enough, Teri Johnson cried in class the day we saw the movie about the earth turning into a meat locker.

As the Cold War progressed, even some of the evangelical churches made hay out of man’s fears. Everything the Soviet Union did was tantamount to Armageddon; Gog and Magog. Some theologians received hefty royalties, scaring God’s people about impending doom. Too bad The Prayer of Jabez hadn’t been written yet. In these predictive, worst-case scenarios, man would destroy the earth and not God—or, God’s version of the Last Day didn’t bother to mention nuclear weapons.

In the 1960s and 1970s, a number of evangelical churches jumped on Paul Ehrlich’s population explosion fad and Christians across the country went on birth control, being convinced that two children were quite enough for them to do their Christian duty to save the planet from overcrowding and famine, not stopping to think that in their glee to limit overpopulation they were taking birth control pills that did not prevent conception, but actually performed a mini-abortion.

Along with Dr. Ehrlich—you know, that expert from Princeton—along came Rachel Carson and her blockbuster book Silent Spring. She convinced the world that DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was harmful, deadly, even a carcinogenic. We knew better because we used to chase the jeeps around that were spraying to kill mosquitoes. I admit that I am also guilty of being sprayed directly several times, but I did not inhale. At any rate, Carson’s book was widely accepted, and even to this day, a number of evangelicals still believe that DDT is harmful. In point of fact, not spraying with DDT has literally caused the deaths of millions of people, especially those in developing countries. Can you say, “law of unintended consequences”? What did we get from ridding the world of DDT? To quote Paul Driessen, we got sustainable mosquitoes and expendable people.[1] Just how bad is it? “In 2000, say World Health Organization and other studies, malaria infected over 300 million people. It killed nearly 2,000,000—most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Over half the victims are children, who die at the rate of two per minute or 3,000 per day…. Since 1972, over 50 million people have died from this dreaded disease.”[2] The disease costs Africa “$12 billion annually, depleting budgets for other health, environmental, economic and social programs. It particularly afflicts poor families, who must use up to 25 percent or more of their income on prevention and treatment.”[3]

It was during Carson’s reign of misinformation that a phenomenon began that has now come to be called “the precautionary principle.” It is a more technical approach to mom’s advice: “better safe than sorry.” Because of a number of factors, far too many Americans would rather be safe than anything else and that is one factor that leads us down the road to socialism, to serfdom. The way the precautionary principle works is that it eschews “genetically modified foods despite their promise to reduce agriculture’s use of land, water, pesticides, and fertilizers, which could result in net benefits to the world’s environment and biodiversity even as it increases the quantity and nutritional quality of food supplies for a rapidly growing world population that has yet to be free from hunger and malnutrition.”[4]

This same precautionary principle has been used to refuse the use of nuclear or hydroelectric power. It was used in the DDT debate which “was only possible because, in some minds, the principle gives license to cherry pick which public health or environmental risk one wants to focus on. Thus, a global ban makes eminent sense only if one ignores the public health costs of not having access to DDT to reduce malaria (and other insect-borne diseases) in poverty stricken areas.”[5]

I will finally add that in the 1970s, then-President Jimmy Carter predicted that the earth would be out of food by 1980. Apparently, that type of prediction was above his pay grade—at least to make it accurately.

These examples could be multiplied and, Lord willing, in the course of this series will be. For the present I want to point out that none of these ideas were presented from a Christian perspective and yet the plausibility and feasibility quotient seemed reasonable enough for Christians and Christian churches and other organizations to buy into them. It is safe to say that while agreeing that the climate has changed, the jury is still out on whether that change is caused by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels. For our purposes, it is essential to note that “all the IPCC’s predictions are based on…climate computer model simulations.”[6]

Those using these computer models, who are more concerned about science and not getting the next government grant or telling Al Gore and company what they want to hear, admit a couple of things. First, “Essentially, answering the question about temperature increase from CO2 means predicting the global temperature over the coming centuries.”[7] Most weathermen and –women cannot accurately predict next week’s weather, let alone what’s coming a century down the road.

Second, “The interaction between these five basic elements (the atmosphere, the oceans, the land surface, the ice sheets, and the earth’s biosphere—RG) is enormously complicated, and crucial mechanisms are still unknown or extremely sparsely documented in the scientific literature.”[8] This forces science to rely on simulating the climate on intricate computers, but “computers are number-crunchers and not crystal balls.”[9]

The Christian will rely on God’s providence, of which no man can explain the intricacies. No one wants to be a bad steward of limited resources, but neither do we desire to be credulous about important matters. Looking to the signatories of ECI does not help us, because many of the signers are theologically liberal and embrace social programs, while abusing the scriptures to make them support and defend the indefensible. In the end, what matters most is that God is faithful and trustworthy to all his promises. We’ll continue down this road next time.

[1] See Paul Driessen, Eco-Imperialism. Green Power, Black Death, (Bellevue, WA: Free Enterprise Press, 2003), p. 65.

[2] Ibid., 66.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Indur Goklany, The Improving State of the World. Why We’re Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet, (Washington, D.C.: The Cato Institute, 2007), p. 9.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Bjørn Limborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), p. 266.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.