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Don't Worry, the Climate and Everything is Under Control

The creationist organization Answers in Genesis, not content with denying the truth of evolution, is also taking on climate change. Dr. Alan White, introducing the topic in an editorial titled The Globe Is Warming, But It's Not Your Fault!, tries to give the appearance of balance.

While there are certainly issues that are more important for a Christian, climate change is one that we should not ignore. The consequences of both action and inaction related to the climate could impact the well being of all the inhabitants of the earth. In addition, the Lord has given us the responsibility to care for this planet that He created.

White then goes on to say that regardless of the facts, Christians need not be concerned.

To be sure, everyone’s worldview has an effect on how he looks at this issue. Christians are less likely to be concerned about the climate going out of control since they believe the earth and its climate were designed and created by an all-knowing and all-powerful God. Those who believe that the heavens and the earth are the result of a random, accidental process naturally will be concerned about what may happen next.

White's essay has other problems, which I may discuss in a later post. But this one goes to the heart of the YEC philosophy.

The idea that an "all-knowing and all-powerful God"the fact that they left out "all-loving" says perhaps more about YEC than they might want to admitwill always step in to prevent disasters such as "the climate going out of control" is not just bad science; it's bad theology.

The idea that God will not let bad things happen is at odds with biblical teaching. Jesus once mentioned two incidents—one accidental and one deliberate—in which several people were killed. Jesus explicitly denied that their deaths were related to a lack of faith. Later, Jesus warned his followers of potential dangers they would face—from persecutions to wars to earthquakes to famines. It's true Jesus told them not to worry, but he certainly didn't say these things wouldn't happen.

Disasters are routine, from hurricanes and cyclones to floods and, yes, earthquakes, humanity can't escape the devastating effects of the earth's turmoil. God didn't spare his people when, in 526 AD an earthquake killed the entire population—estimated at a quarter of a million people—of Syrian Antioch, the very city where the word Christian was coined.

Humans have also proven susceptible to infectious diseases, such as the 1918 flu pandemic that killed more than 50 million people worldwide, or the 14th century bubonic plague that killed a third of the population of Europe. God did nothing to intervene.

And if natural disasters and viral infections aren't enough, humans—through the unintended consequences of our cleverness—have created yet more disasters, and exacerbated others. A five-day fog in London in 1952 became, thanks to emissions from buring coal, a deadly smog that killed 12,000 people and sent 150,000 to the hospital. The Cuyahoga River was polluted so full of oil and other chemicals that in 1969 it caught fire. A 1986 explosion at the nuclear plant in Chernobyl in the Soviet Union (now Ukraine) has been linked to as many as 100,000 cancer deaths, and even three decades later the region has not recovered.

We have also at times turned the world's animal population into collateral damage. Bald eagles almost went extinct due to DDT, and took decades to recover. After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, it took a quarter of a century for sea otters to recover in Prince William Sound. The Gulf of Mexico has not yet recovered after the Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Nevertheless, White concludes that this time we have nothing to worry about.

What is your worldview? Do you trust that God brilliantly designed and created everything and trust that He has your best interests at heart, or will you always be worried that the planet is on the verge of going out of control? As you ponder that, think of these things:

  1. A nuclear reaction in the sun’s core provides us exactly the right amount of heat, and the sun’s surface is the right temperature to provide us the visible light we need.
  2. Water, CO2, and methane from natural sources cause a greenhouse effect that is estimated to raise Earth’s temperature by about 59°F degrees. Otherwise, Earth would be frozen.
  3. Plant life and animal life are totally dependent on each other. Plants grow by consuming carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Animals grow by consuming oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide.
  4. The oceans are a tremendous stabilizing force for Earth’s temperature, and they contain a large reservoir of CO2.
  5. The hydrological cycle of evaporation and rain provides a mechanism for transferring heat around the earth and provides fresh water to plants and animals.
  6. Clouds help control the earth’s temperature by reflecting some of the sun’s radiation into space and by absorbing some of the heat radiated from the earth.

It’s all a part of a grand design. Evidence of God’s provision is everywhere. “For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, NASB).

It's a very optimistic worldview, this idea that in spite of the numerous disasters human beings have witnessed—and even caused—that Christians don't need to worry about out-of-control climate change, that God has everything under control. But it doesn't match twenty-plus centuries of human experience, and it doesn't match biblical teaching.

In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul of Tarsus wrote about some of the hardships he had faced.

Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked.

I can imagine Paul saying he's not worried about climate change becaue he doesn't expect to live long enough to experience the worst of it. I can't imagine him saying that in spite of his hardships it's OK to pollute because an all-powerful God will bail us out if things get uncomfortable.

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