Anthropogenic climate change. Following is an endeavor to address that hot topic with cool reasoning.
First, and only for the sake of argument, let us grant that it is real. Only for the sake of argument, let us assume it is all true. Our production of energy and other human activities are dramatically changing the climate of the earth. In fact if unchecked those activities will destroy the earth! Therefore, humanity must act NOW to “save the planet.” We must all go green or face global gangrene, so to speak.
There are two groups of people yours truly invites to think through the implications of this generous assumption. Others are welcome as observers.
The first group consists of Biblical creationists, usually the object of the ridicule of the second group. We believe that the earth itself is only thousands, not billions of years old. We believe that the Creator formed all life including human life within days of the initial creation of the cosmos as a whole. And while affirming that the Creator equipped His amazingly diverse and wondrous biological marvels with a capacity for limited adaptation, we absolutely deny the never observed claims of Darwinistic evolution.
We also believe that immediately after the global flood so well evidenced by the fossil record, reflected in the ancient folklore of nations all over the world, and accurately documented in the same Bible from which we derive our cosmogony, God gave all mankind a very specific promise about the earth and its climate. This promise can be found at Genesis 8:21,22.
The second group consists of those who are philosophically naturalists. According to them, the galaxies with their innumerable stars, all the planets and other celestial bodies are merely the detritus of some big bang. And as Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young sang about us people, “We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon.” Life arose when natural forces and inanimate matter interacted on one tiny piece of that cosmic detritus, the earth. All life observed today has evolved by chance after, in some proposed primordial pond, lightning sparked a hypothetical reaction which neither Victor Frankenstein nor any real scientist can duplicate in the laboratory. Molecules to man summarizes billions of years of prehistory…goo to you by way of the zoo. *
So most of these folk obviously and vigorously deny divine creation and the existence of supernatural or spiritual realities. Others among them grudgingly admit that a supernatural realm might exist, but just as vigorously insist that any claim to knowledge of it has no place in the labors of what they consider to be enlightened science. As renowned geneticist and evolutionary biologist Professor R. Lewontin puts it, “…we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” **
Let’s bring this back to anthropogenic climate change and the assumption we granted for the sake of argument, namely that it is real. How do our two groups respond to it?
Without apology the Biblical creationist affirms that the absolutely sovereign, promise keeping Lord God will never permit the utter annihilation of the earth (Aside: that would include by nuclear warfare). This does NOT mean we are indifferent to reckless waste disposal, accidental oil spills, or the squandering of resources. It means that we regard the latter as just that: resources which Providence has given for human use! We subsume the concerns of what once was called conservationism under greater concerns: the glory of our God and the welfare of our neighbors.
For example, we regard Draconian restrictions on industrial development, established in hopes of achieving a theoretical and negligible change in the average global temperature, as very bad. We calculate the negative economic impact they have on millions of our fellow men and women and say NO. Biblicly regarding the human race as the divinely appointed steward of the Earth, we want to see fossil fuel reserves (think offshore drilling, coal deposits, etc.) responsibly developed for human benefit, not neglected on account of climate change hysteria.
Now to our second group. First, let us ask them why must the planet be saved? When denying the Creator, recognition of the transcendent ethical realities of good and evil cannot be maintained consistently. (Emphasis on consistently; this writer realizes that weak efforts to attain such consistency have been made.) So why is it “good” to save the planet? What is good and what is evil? Questions easily brushed off for the moment as beyond the scope of this discussion but unavoidable in the long run…
If the earth is to be destroyed and humanity with it, so what? If eternal extinction is the ultimate destiny of the human race and all life, your efforts to restrain anthropogenic climate change are ultimately pointless. Save the planet for what? If the inevitable heat death of the universe is the grand finale, are you not merely rearranging the deck furniture on the Titanic of history?
Your crusade is nothing more than a pragmatism that accords with your subjective aspirations. By what imperative do you insist that other people – i.e. other bags of biochemical activity descended from the first bit of protoplasm which was jump started in that primordial pond – get on board with your agenda?
You commonly attribute amazing powers to this mysterious process you call evolution. Contrary to all that can be soberly observed about the deleterious effects of mutation, you affirm that on account of it life forms are ever becoming more complex. OK, so what if humanity’s evolution into a life form able to make machines that emit tons of hydrocarbons and dreadful weapons of mass destruction eventuates in the extinction of life forms less fit to survive in that environment? Isn’t that the very nature of evolution by natural selection? So what if whales and pachyderms and polar bears go extinct? Hey, they just didn’t make natural selection’s cut! Tough keratin outgrowth from the tips of mammalian digits!
This writer will go on recycling aluminum and plastic, using energy frugally, and hoping future generations will be able to see living elephants. And he will pray to the God of the Bible against the metastasizing of hysteria and pseudo science, and for the advance of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of peace.
* title of book by Harold Hill
* * nybooks.com/articles/1997/01/09/billions-and-billions-of-demons/