God and Global Warming: The Religionization of Science or the Scientification of Religion?


As reporter I have regularly heard frustrated advocates of catastrophic global warming muse among themselves about how they could "get the evangelicals on board." I have also been present at conferences where environmentalists and evangelicals have been "dialoguing" about global warming. Now the activists have gotten their wish–evangelicals have been drawn into the climate change debate.

This past January, a group called the Evangelical Climate Initiative issued a statement, Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action, which recognizes "that human-induced climate change is a serious Christian issue requiring action now." The Call to Action is particularly concerned that man-made global warming will harm the world's poor the most. The initial statement was signed by 85 evangelical leaders.

This week another group of evangelicals, called the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance, has issued a statement, A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming as a challenge to the conclusions of the Evangelical Climate Initiative. For example, the Call to Truth statement argues that "the destructive impact on the poor of enormous mandatory reductions in fossil fuel use far exceeds the impact on them-negative or positive-of the moderate global warming that is most likely to occur."

The authors of the ISA statement include theologian E. Calvin Beisner and the respected University of Alabama Huntsville climate scientist Roy Spencer who is also an evangelical Christian. Other authors listed are long-time catastrophic global warming skeptics such as free-market activist Paul Driessen and statistician Ross McKitrick. ISA's Call to Truth is signed by over 130 scholars, theologians, scientists, economists, and other leaders.

However the global warming debate among evangelicals turns out, it is a sign of progress when theologians appeal to science rather than revelation to justify their positions.