Monday, October 29, 2012

Global Warming is Heating Up

It was announced this last week that global warming ceased sixteen years ago--that is, the average global temperature has remained constant for sixteen years.  The new data put the global warming proponent's model in jeopardy, and of course, the whole idea of an anthropogenic cause of the alleged global temperature rise.  The anthropogenic global warming proponents will not capitulate, but insist they won't worry about their theory until they see the data four years from now.

All of this comes coincidental to a recent request by a dear friend of mine for my opinion on the global warming debate.  Being an organic chemist, I'm not well versed in atmospheric chemistry, geophysics, meteorology, or earth science in general; in fact, my ninth grade science teacher left all of that as a bad taste in my mouth.  However, I did provide my friend with a copy of a reasonably fair treatise of the debate written by Steven Ritter in the December 14?, 2009 Chemical & Engineering News.

Interestingly, I was recently perusing the 1954 archives of C&E News, and chanced upon an article about the then raging debate over whether cigarettes cause cancer.  There I found two scientists, each  representing his own set of supporters, discussing the same set of data, and coming to completely opposite interpretations.  It's almost as if the script used in that cigarette debate has simply been updated for the global warming debate.  The 1954 article didn't attempt to explain the underlining cause for the disagreement, as did the 2009 article, the global warming debate; but I suspect the reason was the same: economics.  I can only imagine how influential the tobacco industry was back then.

I gave my friend a copy of the 1954 article as well, in order to help him see, as we all should, how biased scientists really are, even though they affect Spock-like objectivity.

But as I explained to my friend, the whole global warming brouhaha is less important to me than how many professing Christians have been reacting to it.  What follows is a part of a letter I wrote my friend to explain what I mean.

A growing portion of the Evangelical church has a penchant for eclipsing Christianity with patriotism, politics, and economics.  One of the most egregious of these types of marriages is the adoption of Ayn Rand’s economics, when Rand was a hardcore atheist.  Similarly, many professing Christians have so embraced American political philosophy as to coming dangerously close to saying one isn’t a Christian unless one holds strictly to traditional American political values, and then only as has been interpreted through a Republican lens.

This is not to say there aren’t Christian elements in American political philosophy; nor is it to say the American political system isn’t the best in the world—I believe it is.  But Christ-centered ideology didn’t dominate the thinking of the founding fathers of this country; it was Enlightenment philosophies of Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and their ilk, framed largely by Deist and Unitarian perspectives, that primarily inspired the founding fathers.  Even John Adams, who was certifiably Christian, took his political cues from Cicero.

The founding fathers did embrace the Judeo-Christian ethic as the basis of Constitutional Law.  Jefferson certainly understood the wisdom in this; in fact, it reflects those parts he retained in his Bible after dissecting out the rest.  I have long believed the grounding of American Law on Judeo-Christian ethics to be one of the main reasons the American Revolution succeeded where the French Revolution failed.

Why have these Evangelical elements taken a hard right-turn—literally—into politicizing Christianity?  I believe the answer is fear.  These professing Christians no longer trust our King Jesus’ methods of bringing justice in this world by acting mercifully and making disciples, which Jesus explicitly said will make our lives uncomfortable to the point of at least rejection and worse, death.  Instead, this growing Evangelical coalition wants to force society into the coalition’s own concept of the Kingdom of God, so the group can feel comfortable, and according to the reckoning of some of its members, return to the Golden Age of America.  All of which betrays a doubt  the Kingdom of God has truly come, or can survive without these confessing Christians resorting to Human institutions and methods.

This coalition of Christians is unknowingly falling into the same trap that ensnared the Pharisees.  The latter reduced the Kingdom to ethnic nationalism framed up by a complex system of rules and regulations, instead of seeing it as being based on an indefatigable and uncompromised trust (faith) in God that God has insisted upon from the very beginning.  These Evangelicals are speaking less and less of faith in this holistic sense, and are relegating faith to the category of salvation alone, with the disturbing result of seeking worldly solutions to allay their fears and insecurities—fears and insecurities, I might add, Christians wouldn’t feel if they truly believed Jesus to be their King.

All of which is a long way around to the issue of climate change.  Christians shouldn’t approach science from a fear perspective, as if to agree at all with anything we might learn from scientific investigation will somehow place us on an unrecoverable slippery slope to hell.  No, we as with everyone else—including scientists—should approach the data objectively, and then make decisions based on truth instead of fear.  Christians should be best suited for this daunting task, because they know that Jesus the Christ is truth and God has restored His kingdom through the faithfulness of Jesus the Christ, so humans can resume their duty as stewards of the earth God calls His footstool.

Christians should, therefore, reflect this Kingdom glory to the fallen world using the methods of King Jesus—not the world’s--motivated by a supreme trust in Him to take care of everything: “Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these other things will be added to you.”  What I mean is we should obey our King even if in the short term it seems too expensive. Then the fallen world will see the light of Christ shining in His Kingdom, and perhaps begin to ponder if, indeed, God has visited Humankind.  On the other hand, a reaction based on fear will inevitably leave the fallen world with the impression that those so-called Christ followers is just another faction seeking to protect itself from opposition.

My friend, please know I’m not lumping you in with this regrettable trend in the church, today.  I only say all of this to encourage you to sit back away from all the noise and consider the data objectively and prayerfully (mutually inclusive elements) before rendering a verdict concerning climate change or any other hot-button issue.

We would all do well to do the same.