Author: Ron Graham
Scared by Climate Change
—The Biblical View
As we approach the year 2020, there are three topics that scientists are talking about, causing widespread concern, and even fear. These topics are: Climate Change, Artificial Intelligence, and a Godless Universe.
In this lesson we look from a Biblical perspective. at the first of those, Climate Change...
1 Climate Change Science
We are told that certain human actions cause excess carbon to be released into the atmosphere. These carbon emissions produce a greenhouse effect that leads to global warming, and climate change. We are told this is happening at an alarming rate, causing extreme weather events.
Scientists of this persuasion are frightening people with warnings that climate change is spiralling out of control. Mass extinction of life on earth, including humankind, is just around the corner.
These scientists believe that humans are causing the problem, therefore humans can stop it. So these scientists are demanding urgent “action on climate change”, before our planet reaches the “tipping points” to irreversible catastrophe.
Other scientists believe no action is necessary. They say more carbon dioxide is a good thing because it's greening the planet with more plant life. Any resulting warming and climate change will be limited, and mostly beneficial.
When I was young, we lived under several threats. Among these were a nuclear World War III followed by a “Nuclear Winter”; a population explosion resulting in hundreds of millions starving to death; agricultural poisons causing a “Silent Spring”; the world’s oil resources running out.
These things were predicted by scientists and experts. Perhaps their warnings were wake‑up calls which caused sufficient action to stop their predictions coming true. Or possibly they just didn't know what they were talking about. I don't know, but it bears mentioning.
2 The Biblical View
Against this background, we have an assurance from God. Climate change may occur, but not to the extent that this promise is broken:
✭ "While earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night shall not cease." (Genesis 8:22).
This doesn't mean that extreme weather events won't happen. Joseph predicted a severe famine lasting seven years in Egypt (Genesis 41:30-31). Agabus predicted "a great famine over all the world" (Acts 11:27-28). Jesus himself said that while the world continues "there will be earthquakes and famines and troubles" (Mark 13:5-10).
Developing the Earth
Of course God’s promise doesn't allow us to wreck and ruin our world. But we do have a directive, associated with that promise, to rule the earth and use its reources:
✭ "God blessed the man and woman, and said, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion...'" (Genesis 1:28).
We will change the face of the earth wherever we follow this directive, even though we do it sustainably, with wisdom and care. Whilst we might well leave certain wild places untouched, we are supposed to fill the earth and subdue it, so our development of it will be widespread.
God has no problem with development. He has furnished the earth for that purpose. The firstborn humans, Cain and Abel, began the development with primary industry. Cain grew crops, Abel kept flocks (Genesis 4:1-2), and those activities changed the landscape. Wilderness was turned into fields and pathways.
Those who came afterward built houses and kilns, bridges and walls, vehicles and boats, dams and tunnels, monuments and temples, markets and inns, more and more things, and bigger.
When God spoke to the children of Israel, he promised to take them out of the wilderness into “a good land" of irrigated orchards, gardens, wheatfields, and hills where copper and iron could be mined. (Deuteronomy 8:7-9).
God is in Control
But here is the main principle:
✭ "The earth is the LORD’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it. For he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters." (Psalm 24:1-2).
If God claims ownership of the earth, and tells us that he has established it upon the seas, then surely God will maintain primary control of the earth and seas. And surely he will not allow any human activity that will devastate his planet.
We have seen that God promises that Earth’s seasons and agriculture will never cease. The earth belongs to the Lord and he will protect it. He has given human beings a directive to rule and subdue the earth to develop but not destroy it. From a Biblical perspective, therefore, climate change will not occur in the manner predicted.
Now before we close this lesson, we will consider the data used to support climate change assertions that deny God’s simple and truthful word.
3 Science’s Data and God’s Truth
It will be said that "scientific data" proves the assertions of scientists. No, the data is among the assertions. How, for example, would you accurately measure the following?
- the average surface temperature of our planet’s oceans?
- the average surface temperature of all land on planet Earth?
- how much ice and snow there is on planet Earth?
- the average sea level?
- the general acidity of the oceans?
- the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?
A Matter of Faith
Scientists cannot deploy enough instruments or collect enough samples to provide reliable data on those parameters (and others). It's all just too much. Planet Earth’s land, ice, ocean, and atmosphere are truly immense systems. Their flux and change make them unmeasurable during a single day, let alone over centuries past.
Scientists do gather thousands of measurements from miscellaneous sources. But these many data are still far, far too few. Scientists do a lot of connecting, correcting, adjusting, averaging, calculating, estimating, modelling, and postulating, in order to draw their graphs.
So the conclusions of the climate change scientists are really articles of faith, not absolute scientific fact. I can believe that God is in control of climate change. You can believe there is no God; human beings cause climate change and they must cure it. Either way it's faith. My faith is based on the Bible, yours on dubious scientific data.
God knows (Job 38), with perfect accuracy and truth, the measure and trend of these things at any given moment, past, present, and future. So I am in awe of God and believe that Jesus Christ his Son will hold all creation together (Colossians 1:16-17).