The Bible and The Implications of Climate Change
Many scientists, meteorologists, and climate experts are convinced of the catastrophic phenomenon known as climate change. NASA (National Aeronautics & Space Administration) describes climate change in the paragraph below:
Climate change refers to a broad range of global phenomena created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere. These phenomena include the increased temperature trends described by global warming, but also encompass changes such as sea level rise; ice mass loss in Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic and mountain glaciers worldwide; shifts in flower/plant blooming; and extreme weather events.Callery, S. (Ed.). (2019, February 07). What’s the difference between climate change and global warming? – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet. Retrieved February 24, 2019, from https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/12/whats-the-difference-between-climate-change-and-global-warming/.
NASA in their description of climate change makes a distinction from global warming. They describe global warming as the extended warming of the entire planet due to the increase of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, which has increased about two degrees Fahrenheit respectively. NASA stated that this slight increase in temperature is due to the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Although global warming is related to climate change it is not exclusively defined as climate change.
Due to this phenomenon of climate change, there are individuals who are concerned that humanity’s future is at stake if this issue is not addressed. A senator from New York had declared if the United States does not address the issue of climate change the world will end in 12 years. In addition, the senator also added that climate change is as serious as World War II. Jerry Brown, The former governor of California, in an interview with Meet The Press discussing President Donald Trump’s agenda, said the President should make this the forefront of his presidency and said the following comment below:
I would point to the fact that it took Roosevelt many, many years to get America willing to go into World War II and fight the Nazis. Well, we have an enemy, though different, but perhaps, very much devastating in a similar way. And we’ve got to fight climate change. And the president’s got to lead on that.Kamisar, B. (2018, December 30). Jerry Brown: Climate change challenges are as serious as those faced in World War II. Retrieved February 24, 2019, from https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/jerry-brown-climate-change-challenges-serious-those-faced-world-war-n952446.
There are others who believe the overpopulation of the world, the increasing use of fossil fuels, and the consumption of the earth’s resources is intensifying the problem and that the solution may be to reduce the population at some point in the future. Even some believers, arguing from omission, holding to climate change are convinced that human beings have the capability to destroy the earth as author notes below:
As scientists, we know the importance of evidence; whether revealed through God’s written word or through creation. There is nothing in the Bible that says human-induced climate change isn’t possible. And there is plenty in creation that tells us that it is…there is only really one thing we Christians are called to do: to fearlessly express Christ’s love to others. In the case of climate change, how do we express this love? Through acknowledging the reality of the issue; supporting action to help others who are being harmed now, today, and in the future; and taking our responsibility to care for God’s creation seriously.Hayhoe, K. (2019, June 19). Why All Christians Should Heed Pope Francis’ Call to “Care for Our Common Home”. Retrieved February 24, 2019, from https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/why-all-christians-should-heed-pope-francis-call-to-care-for-our-common-home.
However, should a believer hold to this stance regarding this climate change and the subsequent consequences of this phenomenon? Does the Bible observe the issue of the climate as a threat to the earth itself due to manufacturing, fossil fuel, and overpopulation?
The answer is highlighted in the book of Ecclesiastes, whose author was Solomon, the king of Israel, who conducted a social experiment about life under the sun. He concluded in his survey that the purpose of man is to honor God and follow his wisdom concerning life (Ecc. 12:13). Solomon is also credited in Scripture as being the wisest man that has ever lived (1 Kings 3:12-13). This was due to Solomon petitioning God for wisdom to guide the Israelite people, and as a result of this prayer, God granted Solomon’s request (1 Kings 3:6-11). This knowledge is important because Solomon was making observations regarding life and nature from the wisdom God had given Him. In the introduction of Ecclesiastes and examining creation he wrote the following:
What advantage does man have in all his work Which he does under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets, And hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, Then turning toward the north, The wind continues swirling along; And on its circular courses, the wind returns. All the rivers flow into the sea, Yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, There they flow again. (Ecc. 1:3-7 NASB).
Solomon details some of the natural actions of the earth. He observed there is a cyclical nature of the actions of the earth and even though there have been many generations of human beings, the earth will continue to endure. King David in the Psalms connects the constancy of nature with the consistent nature and glory of God, who has created the heavens and the earth (Ps. 19:1-7). According to a Biblical worldview, the planet’s cyclical pattern as observed by King Solomon is the natural process of the earth and how God has established it. There are climates and regions in the world that experience alterations frequently and yet the earth, and the patterns that are found within the earth, will continue to remain constant. One recent study underscored this reality as climate researchers observed the glaciers in Iceland. The research revealed the rise in the temperature of the earth is not a new phenomenon. The results of the study are shown in the graph below.
Whitestone G (2019). Inconvenient Facts App (version 1.0.24) [mobile application software] Retrieved from: https://inconvenientfacts.xyz.
This is not to say that Christians are not to be concerned and responsible for the creation and the environment. Believers understand that the earth itself and everything in the earth, is created by God (Gen. 1:1), and one of the first acts that God had commanded Adam do it when God placed him in the Garden was to work the ground and care for it (Gen. 2:15), which underscores that man was to utilize the resources that God had provided in the earth He made. There are many verses in Scripture that speak of the grandeur and order of creation (Ps. 19:1-7). God is the one who causes the rain to fall providing nourishment for the earth (Ps. 65:9). Christians, as a good work, and to the glory of God care for the environment and nature (2 Cor. 10:31). The Scriptures also emphasize the physical kingdom of God in the future has with it the reality of the saints inheriting the earth (c.f. Matt 5:5; Rev. 20:1-6). When God speaking with Job giving the reasoning for Job’s affliction points to the constancy of creation as His answer to Job (Chaps. 38-41). From a biblical worldview when it comes to the change of weather patterns and climate these are things that fluctuate irrespective of the usage of fossil fuels. In addition, climate change is not exacerbated by the overpopulation of the world since God commanded mankind to populate the earth (Gen. 1:28; Gen. 9:7).
Climate change is a natural phenomenon that occurs on earth. However it is not due to the result of the actions of mankind, or the arrival of industry, but because the world and its natural systems are not static, but dynamic. The Scriptures are clear highlighting God is the creator of heaven and earth, and while generations of human beings have passed away, the earth will continue to endure forever. Mankind, according to God’s word is to reproduce and use the resources on the earth that God has provided (wood, oil, water, land, etc.) for the glory of God, and the benefit of mankind.
May we as believers continue to marvel and be amazed at what God has made, as it all reflects His eternality, power, and transcendent nature.
Until next time…
Soli Deo Gloria!
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