Climate and Religious Fundamentalism

I thought this was funny.  I am not going to deconstruct or lampoon this guy's beliefs, nor am I knowlegeable enough to argue whether Genesis 1:28 really mandates that man should forecast the climate system.  I am in fact trying really hard to say that I am not making an ad hominem attack here, but merely pointing out an irony:  Many dismiss skeptics as all part of the religious fundamentalist Right, I presume to try to lump us in with evolution deniers.  I can't tell you how many emails I get calling me some sort of religious fundamentalist freak, which is actually hilarious given a) I never mention religion of the g-word on either of my sites almost ever and b) the actual nature of my beliefs.

So this is funny in an ironic way:  The guy that originally wrote a bunch of the CRU code that has since been criticized as forcing a warming result is Tim Mitchell, who has shared some of his thoughts online (via Odd Citizen):

The climate system is made up of the earth's atmosphere, oceans, ice, vegetation, and streams. It is both beautiful and complex. Humans have a mandate to forecast its behavior and use it (Genesis 1:28). However, we feel in awe of its destructive potential, seen in such things as hurricanes and floods, which are part of the curse inflicted upon the earth following the Fall (Genesis 3.17). Moreover, control and certainty belong to God alone (Job 38-41). So there is a possibility that our actions may affect the climate system in unexpected ways. It was claimed in the 1970s that the earth might be about to enter an ice age. The evidence for this was minimal, but the decades of painstaking research that have followed the 1970s have unveiled both the natural variability in the climate system, and the dramatic effects of human actions....

What can individual Christians do? Some, but not many, are called to be scientists and politicians. However, we all have the vote, and environmental issues ought to be among those that we weigh up carefully before casting our vote. We are also each responsible for a small part of the daily emissions of greenhouse gases. Do we use our energy-intensive cars wisely? Are we guilty of worldly attitudes to public transport? With domestic heating and insulation, do we spend more and pollute more than is necessary? The government urges us to reduce our energy usage so that we may indulge ourselves in other ways, but we have a higher motive for reducing waste (1 Timothy 6.17-19). Although I have yet to see any evidence that climate change is a sign of Christ's imminent return, human pollution is clearly another of the birth pangs of creation, as it eagerly awaits being delivered from the bondage of corruption (Romans. 19-22).

Tim Mitchell works at the Climactic Research Unit, UEA, Norwich, and is a member of South Park Evangelical Church.

Again, I am not trying to purge the scientific ranks of Christian fundamentalists, I just think this is funny given all the accusations of blind Christian fundamentalism aimed (often with no basis) at skeptics.

  • http://evilredscandi.blogspot.com Evil Red Scandi

    The late, great author Michael Crichton trained in anthropology before he decided to enter Harvard Medical School. Interestingly enough, he stated that the modern environmental movement meets the technical, anthropological definition of 'religion.' I'd have to dig for his writings that discuss this, but he does mention it at the end of this video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLsVViOKkE0

  • Not Sure

    "I’d have to dig for his writings that discuss this..."

    Here you go...

    http://www.michaelcrichton.net/speech-environmentalismaseligion.html

  • stan

    How 'bout Algore his own self?

    http://www.onenewsnow.com/Politics/Default.aspx?id=66155

    Al Gore has used a speech to hundreds attending Jimmy Carter's liberal Baptist meeting in Atlanta to sell his global warming campaign.

    The Tennessean in Nashville describes Gore's speech this way: "With a green-colored Bible in one hand and his familiar red laser pointer in the other, former vice president and Nobel prize winner Al Gore led 2,500 Baptist preachers and lay leaders through his global warming slide show in Atlanta Thursday. Sounding more like an evangelist than a politician, Gore drew upon Scripture, science and a Sunday school teacher from his home church to urge Baptists to do whatever they could to fight global warming."

    The newspaper goes on to quote Gore as telling the crowd that "if we heap contempt on God's creation, that is inconsistent with glorifying God" -- and comparing the "rising storm" of the alleged climate crisis to the rise of the Nazi party in the 1930s.

    And it appears Gore had plenty of disciples at the gathering. According to The Tennessean, Robert Parham, executive director of the Nashville-based Baptist Center for Ethics, called Gore a "Baptist prophet." In introducing Gore, Parham said, "prophets are unacceptable because their truth is inconvenient."

    The newspaper also quotes Todd Lake, vice president for spiritual development at Belmont University, as saying Gore had opened his eyes to the scale of global warming. "Not only do we have a crisis, we have a mounting crisis," Lake stated.

  • Zach

    Awesome quote from the Crichton website:

    "Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

    There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe. "

    Sounds like what I've been thinking for years now.

  • Andy

    As a Christian, and looking up the passages cited, it looks like a case of forcing his views onto the Biblical text.

    Genesis 1:28 makes no reference to the climate, weather or forecasting, rather the general principle of the stewardship of creation.
    1 Timothy 6.17-19 has got nothing at all to do with waste or the environment.
    The Romans cite is from chapter 9 I think, but its reference to "creation" is unlikely to be a literal understanding, but rather the people of creation. Interpreting it as an environmental issue seems completely out of the context of the overall passage.

    Overall, the Bible talks very little about environmental issues as we think of them today. The only way to make a case for modern environmentalism from a Christian perspective is from overall principles, not any specific passage.

  • Ian Random

    I think Dennis Prager said it best, that religious people believe in something silly one day a week and non-religious believe in something silly 7 days a week.

  • morganovich

    a great deal of the environmental movement has strong religious overtones. this is why many have dubbed it a "secular religion".

    consider the story of the fall:

    man lived in a perfect garden, but through his own wickedness was cast out and now must seek to atone for this original sin.

    this has strong parallels to those arguing that once there was a time of perfect environment when the world was verdant and flawless and that it came to an end due to man's wickedness, exploitation, and pollution. now we have fallen and must atone in an attempt to return to grace.

    and am i the only one who has noticed that carbon credits bear a strong resumblance to papal indulgences?

  • http://www,tinyvital.com/blog John Moore

    What annoys this Christian (other than the continual slander of Christians in today's culture, especially by scientists) is skeptics who make claims like "God made the earth, so man can't break it." Rush Limbaugh, who is pretty incisive on political issues, shows his lack of scientific understanding when he says things like this.

    Unfortunately, in the blogosphere, this sort of assertion comes up in AGW debates, and harms the image of serious skeptics, allowing the MSM and the warmists to lump everyone into the religious nut-bag category.

    It is indeed ironic to find this viewpoint coming from a CRU guy - even though it does not imply anything unscientific about his approach, as opposed to his religious views.

  • http://www.humanadvancement.net/blog Kyle Bennett

    "Tim Mitchell ... is a member of South Park Evangelical Church."

    Respect mah authoritah!

  • txjim

    LOL Coyote accused of being a religious fundamentalist! That's rich. I thought being a former McKinsey (aka Left Hand of Satan, Inc.) employee would automatically exclude that correlation!

  • Pat Moffitt

    It is not surprising to see some alliance between some fundamental Christian and the AGW/Gaia sects. A static, unchanging highly ordered world world, a rejection of material wants, self abasemnt and man as a fatally flawed creation are common beliefs.

  • Rob

    Please don't equate Evangelical with Fundimentalist. That ship sailed years ago. Also Evangelical in Britain doesn't carry the same meaning as here.

    In terms of politics it generally means moderate to left leaning. There are, of course, exceptions - humans are nothing if not inconsistent.

    I have always taken Romans 8:22 to point to what is effectively a point of philosophy. When Creation was completed, there was a perfect system. When the fall occured, we had imperfect man (and woman) living in a perfect world. This is untenable, so the world was placed into futility (imperfection) to allow mankind a place to live. The perfect and imperfect cannot abide together, the latter will corrupt the former. It is largely theological/philosophical nonsense for the everyday.

    Can man destroy the earth? Define destroy. When the first atom bomb was tested, they were discussing whether it would trigger an atmospheric fusion reaction, turning the whole planet into a cinder. Is that destroyed?

    Yes man can "pee in the stream" and such - making a mess. Can he destroy? I don't think so. Man can take extremem measures which will result in the wipeout of mankind, but the planet will recover.

    A Christian - GAIA connection makes no sense whatsoever. The Christian sees the earth as a created thing. The GAIA crowd revere the earth as something greater than them. The idea of stewardship (which means necessarily top dog positionally) negates the idea of worship of the creation. The two are incompatible.

    Tim Mitchell works at CRU, where they corrupt science for a living what makes you thing for a moment that he would not corrupt religion for the same purpose?

  • Pat Moffitt

    Rob- I did not mean to say say an alliance in a political sense (between Gaia and Evangelicals) but in a cultural sense. Man as a being inherently flawed is a western cultural theme. Gaiaists and the Left may claim rejection of the Judeo/Christian story however they are still bound by the limits of what our culture says about who and what we are.

  • Not Sure

    "Yes man can “pee in the stream” and such – making a mess. Can he destroy? I don’t think so. Man can take extremem measures which will result in the wipeout of mankind, but the planet will recover." - Rob

    I watched a National Geographic show a while back about the Chicxulub asteroid strike. In it, they claimed it was the equivalent of (and here, I'm just guessing because I don't exactly remember, but the number was *big*) individual 1 megaton nuclear bombs evenly spaced over every two square miles of the entire planet's surface.

    And that's nature for you.

    Knowing that, how mankind is supposedly in the position to "destroy the earth" is beyond me.

    IMO, the arrogance and sense of self-importance of human beings (some of them, anyway) knows no bounds.

  • Gil

    How can the assertion "humanity can't destroy the Earth" not be a statement of religion? People believed the Passenger Pigeon to so numerous that the species couldn't go extinct? Perhaps a similar assertion can applied to war - people won't cause other people to go extinct as fewer are left the human life becomes more valuable and therefore there's greater incentive to save the human race. Apparently Libertarians are looking for a licence to pollute the commons. "It's not your stream so tell me won't I will and won't dump there!"

  • Matt

    It appears I am late to this discussion, but I'd just like to ask you not to lump us Fundamentalists in with the AGW crowd. They wouldn't know good science if it came up and introduced itself. Those guys are crazy.

  • spiro

    Gil,

    I think we need a clarification here. What is your definition of "destroying the earth"?
    Because I find it far-fetched from a geo-physical standpoint to believe that humanity has the ability to obliterate such a massive body of rock as our planet. Unless you have inside knowledge on the upcoming construction of a Death Star.

  • Rob

    Not Sure, yup!
    Spiro, well said.
    Gil, what Spiro said.

    Don't generalize locallized a disturbance to mean general destruction. It isn't scalable. One way or another, until the Sun dies, this rock will remain and life will continue (maybe not man, but life will).

    The earth is a large collection of matter organized in a way we (well, most of us) think good and useful. Any further assertion is in the realm of religion.

    It is great to discuss what we want it like for our use, but asserting that we know what the earth "wants" is straight out of GAIA.

    Corrupting the commons? There are those who would argue that urine in the stream is perfectly natural. Stream, human, urine - all natural. Useful? Desirable? Well I don't like stepping in meadow muffins, but there is nothing unnatural about them. The idea of the commons is not scientific, it is a human construct.

    Perhaps it is our opinion of the natural systems which needs adjustment?

  • Gil

    Aw, what to play semantics over what "destroying the world" means? Why bother talking of how many Chinese died in the 1970s because so many Chinese babies were born since then to pick up the temporary drop in population? Besides atom bombs are natural because all the building blocks to form the bomb, including uranium, came from the ground.

  • tehag

    "I just think this is funny given all the accusations of blind Christian fundamentalism aimed (often with no basis) at skeptics."

    It is funny, but in assuming a conspiracy of denialists and then blaming it on a religion it's like anti-Semites assuming that the Jews are behind all unfavorable economic actions.

  • spiro

    Gil,

    Take a deep, cleansing breath. Count to 10. Get someone to proofread your posts. And get a sense of humor. The reason why nobody invites you to parties anymore is NOT because your vast intelligence makes them feel inferior, it is because you are a self-important bore, with no sense of humor or perspective.