To Brendan: On Global Climate Change, Abortion, the Coming World Water Crisis, and Other Bedtime Story Ideas- A Facebook Cross-Post

I found myself mired in another debate with a “fundagelical” on Facebook. What follows then is that debate, and then my response.

This note is in response to the following discussion thread on Facebook:

Jonathan Howard: Open question to all global climate change proporters. Which way is the climate changing? In the 70’s you swore ICE AGE!!! In the 90’s you cried GLOBAL WARMING ( till all those agencies like NASA said it was actually globaly cooler). Now you just use the word change… so is it ICEAGE or GREENHOUSE?? Seriously… anyone?

Jay Epps: I’m so confused … Not! It’s all about control and taxes!! It doesn’t really matter to them which. It’s only an excuse to DO SOMETHING!!!! There just a bunch of pansy’s!

Brendan Lee Malone: WELL SAID JAY

Tracy David– Day: Maybe its a polar greenhouse!?! The hole in the ozone is making the summers colder and the winters warmer and soon the whole world will have the same season as Texas!! I would like a receipt for my 2 cents please!! 😉

Robert Buck: “The debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes:” http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/01/19/eco.globalwarmingsurvey/index.html In any case, I am absolutely certain of two things: the mandate in Scripture to be stewards of and CARE for (not plunder) creation is absolutely unequivocal, AND Scripture clearly states that creation itself yearns for its own redemption- and for damn good reason. The lengths that fundagelicals will go to to defend the plunder of creation and lack of care for the “least of these,” all in the name of limited government and low taxes (not real high on Jesus’ agenda, at least if his words and actions in Scripture matter at all) still boggles my mind.

Jonathan Howard: Robert its kinda funny that if you google global Iceage you will find several articles with exactly the same assertions as the article you posted just change iceage to warming and hot to cold, or are your telling me in 20 some odd years we averted an Iceage and created a Green house? WOW! Humans are super powerful!! Oh wait what was that about a coralation between solar flares and climate temps? So again… which way is the temp going? And just cause someone is a scientist doesnt mean they know what they are talking about. After all “Scientists” swore the Earth was flat till a crazy man (Christopher Columbus) challenged the accepted wisdom.

Robert Buck: This fails to address the real issues. Jesus cares about the poor, and his creation, and so should we. Moreover, whatever your stance on global warming, it’s clear that Christians should consume less for a variety of reasons.

Jonathan Howard: I wasnt addressing the issue of what Christians should or should not do. I was addressing the issue of whether Global climate change as related to people is real or just made to fit the latest “sky is falling” “must do something now” political movement. Jesus cares about people, rich and poor, and so should you. And if we have to consume more to reach more people then thats what we should do. Whats more valuable a human soul or a ton of coal? Christians are responsible and good stewards, and sometimes that means challenging the accepted or proported sience or wisdom, because bad science and bad ideas lead to bad decisions.

Brendan Lee Malone: Jonathan -you never cease to have me holding my sides laughing, while you DESTROY the opposing argument. First,Robert,respectfully i ask you…can you answer specifically the charge made by Jonathan about the 20yr “flip flop” of ICE AGE to HEAT from the hysterical climate group? I’ll bet you cant even touch that. What we are seeing is truly natural changes in climate -just look at the records of PRE-INDUSTRIAL warm periods. Second, while you are invoking the name of Christ 4 your climate change CONTROL of others, and telling us all to consume less, dont you realize that your biblical context is completely erroneous? Romans 8:22 points out that the earth is suffering under the effects of…here it is…get a pen…SIN!!! Not greenhouse gas emissions! -that is just ridiculous, poor biblical scholarship, and silly. Tell me, are you this ACTIVE in your defense of the millions of unborn murdered in ABORTIONS? OR do you prefer saving WHALES??????????

Brendan Lee Malone: By the way Robert, “FUNDAGELICAL”? =) – If that term means that i adhere to fundamental principles of unchanging truth found in the Word of God, and that I share my faith with others as a command by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself…put me on the mailing list! Although Im sure that it was intended a pejorative, I will use your term FUNDA-GELICAL, and wear it as a badge, with pride my friend!!! Thank YOU, that is sure easier that saying both, Fundamentalist AND Evangelical -LOL

In response, I wrote the following-

I’m grateful for this opportunity, Brendan, to exercise some of the fruits of the Spirit, because they’re certainly called for. Now, you “respectfully” asked me a question; so I will respond (if not “answer”). You asked if I could “answer” Jonathan’s charge about the alleged “20 year flip flop” regarding the science of global climate change, and then you asserted your assurance that I “couldn’t touch it.” The problem is that there’s nothing to “touch,” as you put it. Jonathan didn’t present any data, or research, etc. He merely stated his opinion about the accepted science of the matter, and of course, we’re ALL (even me, I suppose) entitled to our opinions, right? Moreover, were Jonathan to present data- that is, peer-reviewed journal articles and the like- that supports his opinion, it would be a little disingenuous on his part, since part of his position involves the assertion that scientists don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about. You see, you can’t very well reject the arguments of scientists and then support your rejection by quoting scientists, which puts Jonathan in a bit of an untenable position, and makes this whole debate moot.

You went on, Brendan, to say: “Romans 8:22 points out that the earth is suffering under the effects of…here it is…get a pen…SIN!!! Not greenhouse gas emissions! -that is just ridiculous, poor biblical scholarship, and silly.” I think perhaps you’re missing my point. If creation is suffering due to overconsumption in the developed world which in turn causes a damaging amount of greenhouse gas emissions, that is sinful! Creation groans in anticipation of its own redemption because it suffers the effects of humanity’s sin, which begs the question- how? One way I suspect this works has much to do with balance and harmony. In the garden, Adam and Eve enjoyed a relationship with the animals and the earth that we can only imagine. When sin entered the picture and God announced the curse, humanity’s relationship with creation was included (“Cursed is the ground because of you…”). Yet this is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Not only does humanity have to work the soil (through “painful toil,” according to Scripture) in order to produce food, but this contentious relationship is exacerbated by the myriad ways humanity keeps choosing to make the situation much, much worse.

This last bit is probably missing the point, too, though, since I don’t advocate for less consumption and faithful stewardship of the environment because scientists tell me that global warming will eventually lead to catastrophe; no, I advocate for those things because it is the only just- and therefore Christian- thing to do. The U.S. consumes a vastly disproportionate amount of the world’s resources and creates an equally disproportionate amount of the world’s waste, all of which not only puts great strain on the environment but has not a small part to do with just how destitute much of the world’s population perpetually remains (See: the World Bank Development Indicators 2008, and a nice summary of them here: http://www.globalissues.org/issue/235/consumption-and-consumerism). In short, because we control so much of the world’s wealth and resources, there is so very, very little left for those who really need it- not so that they can have another latte or HDTV, but simply to survive. Are you aware that there’s an impending world water crisis, and that some believe the wars of the future will be fought not over oil, but over water? (For a nice overview, go here: http://water.org/learn-about-the-water-crisis/facts/) According to the WHO, 3.575 million people die each year from water-related disease, and 98% of these deaths occur in the developing world. I don’t think I’m overstating the case to say that no one should die because of lack of access to clean, safe water, especially while we USAmericans use it so blithely every day to maintain our perfectly manicured lawns in the middle of the desert (see: Arizona, parts of TX, etc.). So, as a part of the richest nation in the history of the world, I am confident that Jesus weeps not just for those desperately poor and hungry billions around the world, but for me because of my failure to better advocate for their needs and steward what resources I’ve been entrusted with for their good. This is why consuming less and taking better care of the earth is so important.

Finally, Brendan, you said: “Tell me, are you this ACTIVE in your defense of the millions of unborn murdered in ABORTIONS? OR do you prefer saving WHALES??????????” I will simply answer this charge by saying that I am pro-life, and consistently so. What I mean is that when God says, “Thou shalt not murder,” I suspect he probably means it. So I’m for life in all cases- in the case of those unborn millions you described, but also in the case of death row inmates, and when it comes to war, etc. If murder is wrong, it’s wrong, plain and simple. Being consistently pro-life, though, goes deeper than this, and to get back to your charge, I believe that I’m very active in advocating for the lives of all those unborn millions when I advocate for living wages and universal health care for all the unwed mothers that so often bear them. I advocate for the lives of those unborn millions when I support women’s rights, especially in situations of domestic violence at the hands of men. You see, what inconsistent “pro-lifers” fail to realize is that abortion is a symptom of a deeper societal illness; it’s the result of an entrenched and more sinister systemic sin, and that sin has much to do with the issues I’ve addressed above, with poverty being chief among them. I would add, though, that the kind of “freedom” you seem to be advocating for, Brendan, in rejecting the government “control” that would be necessary to curb greenhouse emissions, etc., is the same “freedom” employed by too many of us as we over-consume (literally, with the USAmerican obesity rates to prove it), and no doubt has much to do with the attitude and social mores that could lead a person to choose to terminate a pregnancy, and hence a life. So, then, I won’t necessarily give up my “rights” as a USAmerican in order to feel “safe” from terrorists, but I’ll gladly surrender some of them in exchange for the very lives of those the U.S. so routinely oppresses, simply by maintaining our standard and way of life, but I suppose I digress. I would close, then, by entreating you Brendan not to accuse me of making silly, ridiculous arguments that employ “poor Biblical scholarship.” I took on a lot of debt to go to 3 Christian colleges and finally seminary for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and as a wanton consumer not only of higher education but also of your tax dollars devoted to funding that education, I should remind you that you’re insulting not only my diligence as a student, but also your investment in my education.

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