I have not seen Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” but I have heard much about it. In my profession as a architect, sustainable design is one of the key issues of the day, and there are those who are passionate about sustainability mainly because they are fully bought in to the reality of global warming. In this political season, the global warming issue will certainly be a topic of debate. In case it isn’t obvious, the main reason for global warming, according to its evangelists (and they have all the characteristics that make that word an appropriate label), is us. We are destroying the planet, and have been since the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Taken to its extreme, this argument make us humans parasites on what would be an otherwise pristine paradise. There are several thoughts I have on this whole topic from the vantage point of my Christian worldview.
First let me set the stage for my comments. It is undeniable that there is a global warming trend. The metrics on this are clear. What is less clear to me is that there is scientific consensus on the cause or the long term affects. There is a shrillness in the denunciations of scientists who raise questions about the conclusions that have been reached by those in Mr. Gore’s camp that makes me suspicious. In regard to moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, I am all for that. We human beings, particularly in the industrialized world have been gluttons of resources, often to an obscene degree, and that goes against one of the primary reasons for man’s existence on the earth. More about that in a moment. The main point for me is logic; why use more just because we can when less will do?
So what should we who hold a Christian worldview think about this issue? Does the Bible have anything to say about this? I think so. First of all, after we humans were created to have fellowship with God, we were assigned the task of being stewards of God’s creation. Being a steward means caring for something on behalf of another as if it were your own. My view is that God did not relieve us from this responsibility when he cast man out of the garden after the Fall. If we do not care for the creation responsibly, we are failing in what was the original responsibility of mankind. Moving toward conserving and living sustainable lifestyles are not really optional; we all need to do this as quickly as is practically possible.
On the assertion made by the most radical proponents in the the global warming camp that man is a parasitic being, I think Christians can firmly disagree. God created us to live here. We have been here from the beginning and as His stewards of creation are a very important part of how he made the world to work. Have we modern men done a bad job? Absolutely, but to say that the world would have been better without us is a pointless statement. First of all, how could we know this for certain? It is equally likely that things might be much worse without us here. As a practical matter, we are here for good or ill, and we have to deal with that as a fact. If we will see our role as the stewards God made us to be, and view our stewardship as service and worship to Him I think we might make different decisions than we have made in the past.
Finally, the whole question of when the trouble really started and what caused it. Gore and those who support his view of things generally point to the Industrial Revolution as the time when things began to go wrong. But the Bible tells us that things went bad way before that. Genesis 3:17 says that the world we know today is not the same as it was created to be, and that we are responsible for that. After man’s sin in Adam, God cursed the ground because of us. So THE Inconvenient Truth is that we are more responsible for the mess the world is in, not just environmentally, that Mr. Gore and others are willing to acknowledge.
So yes, conserve, be sustainable. We might be able to fix some of the environmental problems, but the bigger problems will not be solved by better science, or anything else we can do. Fixing and protecting the environment as best we can is the right thing to do, but in the big theme of things it’s the equivalent of rearranging the Titanic’s deck chairs while the ship sinks. We have to rely on and accept the solution to the bigger problems that God himself has provided…salvation through faith in Christ.