It’s Earth Day, 2018. It’s a time to celebrate nature and consider our role in the natural world as well as how we, especially as Christians, can steward this beautiful and amazing earth.
Today, Answers in Genesis - the Young-Earth Creationist organization - is rerunning their Earth Day column from 2009. What do they have to say? Plenty. Let’s get one thing out of the way. The author (John Upchurch) insists on equating everyone who accepts the validity of evolution with philosophical naturalists. He first uses the term evolutionary naturalists, but then uses just the term evolutionists. It appears that he doesn’t understand that there are a great many of us who are comfortable being philosophical theists (even Christians) while also being evolutionists. So, when you read the article, every time you read “evolutionist”, you have to substitute in “evolutionary naturalist”.
AiG believes that the book of Genesis should be read completely literally. Thus, they talk about creation being “fallen” (i.e. imperfect, less than its perfect state just after creation) after the sin of Adam and Eve using Genesis 3:17-19 as a prooftext. Many scholars would argue with this interpretation of this passage, suggesting that Genesis 1-3 is a mythical (not necessarily untrue, but not necessarily historic) story about how the world and sin came to be. AiG also believes in an earth that is only 6000 years old and in a literal flood and only one ice age. These are things that are not consistent with what science tells us and, again, are also not supported by many biblical scholars. This is important to know because it colors AiGs view of climate change.
The main part of the article is about climate change - not the science of climate change, but the philosophy of how it can’t really exist. Climate change, particularly global warming, is a settled fact among climate scientists (i.e. the experts who study this stuff for a living). The NASA website is a good place to go for evidence about climate change (for the time being - it appears that the new NASA head has expressed skepticism about climate change). There’s information at the UN as well as other sites. A Google search will keep you busy for a while.
AiG claims, though, that since there has been climate change before, we shouldn’t worry that there is climate change now. Ummmm, sure. AiG only believes in “the flood” and one ice age. Science tells us about several different ice ages and warm periods, but none as striking as the current level of global warming. The scientific evidence currently shows a strong correlation between carbon dioxide levels in the air, high because of human effects, and increase in global temperatures. In fact the slope upward of global temperatures is so high because of the human influence.
We are told in this article that because God has said that we don’t need to worry about the future (Matthew 6:34 -”Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”), we don’t need to worry about climate change. So, basically, we don’t need to be concerned about cause and effect? Somehow, God is going to suspend the laws of nature so nothing worrisome will happen due to the high carbon levels in the atmosphere? Actually, God isn’t telling us not to take precautions for the future, but not to be anxious. We can certainly be taking care of the planet without being unduly frightened.
In a sidebar (I believe from the original 2009 article), AiG advertises a documentary about climate change and they ask the question about whether polar bears will start starving. It’s ironic that National Geographic caught on video in August a polar bear that was, indeed, starving, and that its starvation is believed to be due to climate change. Here’s an article with the video and some information about it. Polar bears as a whole are not endangered, but it is believed that seeing polar bears hungry is going to become a more common thing as sea ice melts and there is less snow in the arctic.
Folks, climate change (global warming, whatever . . . ) is real. The science is undisputed. Answers in Genesis is using some unreliable biblical analysis to justify their view that humans are not responsible for climate change, which is contrary to all evidence. Even if they were to be correct, there is strong evidence that climate change is going to be bad for humans and that we can do something about it.
This Earth Day, commit to making some changes, however small, to taking care of your part of our planet. God gave us this earth to take care of. Climate change is real and we can help. This week, I ordered some aluminum straws for us to use when we to out to eat. It’s a small thing, but it’s something. Maybe you can do more recycling. Maybe you can use the library instead of buying books. Maybe you can use the heat or air-conditioning less. Whatever it is, do something.
God made this earth, but it’s up to us, as the pinnacle of God’s creation, to take care of it. Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”