Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Enviros follow Dean: Fool them with repackaging!

Washington Post (via In the Agora):

"While evangelicals are open to being good stewards of God's creation, they believe people should only worship God, not creation," Green said. "This may sound like splitting hairs. But evangelicals don't see it that way. Their stereotype of environmentalists would be Druids who worship trees."

..."The Earth is God's body," Hedman said in a recent sermon. "God wants us to look after it."

A swing and a miss. If you're going to try to convince us that the present environmentalist movement is not pantheistic, it might help to not make pantheistic statements. Just a thought.

The first sentence reflects my own view: we should be good stewards of God's creation. Development should be sustainable, clean technologies should be aggressively pursued so as to minimize pollution, and wilderness areas should be left for future generations. But contrary to what the WaPo article suggests, there are in fact differences between conserving the earth and the current environmentalist movement. They are not merely different names for the same thing.

Another problem I see besides the tendency to divinize the earth, whether one calls it Gaia or "God's body", is that the science is still very incomplete. It doesn't help that activism replaces scientific discussion, scientific dissenters against global warming receive death threats, and resultant policies such as the Kyoto accord are really just backdoor socialism because they impose heavy fines on productivity while exempting the worst polluters because they are developing nations. In short, a lot of the discussion about environmental issues today is not honest discussion, and some environmentalists don't even want there to be a discussion. Further evidence that Kyoto fosters redistribution of wealth more than eco-friendly industry is the already real problem of outsourcing of jobs to exampted nations. In a Christian's consideration of environmental solutions, treaties that cost people's jobs should be taken into account, and claims about the enviroment that are based on inconclusive data and maintained by silencing dissent should be suspect at best.

Then there's this bit fro the WaPo article:

Even for green activists within the evangelical movement, there are landmines. One faction in the movement, called dispensationalism, argues that the return of Jesus and the end of the world are near, so it is pointless to fret about environmental degradation.

James G. Watt, President Ronald Reagan's first interior secretary, famously made this argument before Congress in 1981, saying: "God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back." The enduring appeal of End Time musings among evangelicals is reflected in the phenomenal success of the Left Behind series of apocalyptic potboilers, which have sold more than 60 million copies and are the best-selling novels in the country.

Um, no. The Watt quote has been exposed as a lie, and if you look closely the WaPo article includes a half-hearted correction (but not a retraction) in teeny tiny print. The Left Behind angle is a non-sequitur as there is no evidence to suggest that dispensationalists actually think this way or that the Left Behind books actually promote such thinking.

Christians do have a responsibility to protect the environment, and vote for policies that do so. But for the foreseeable future we will probably have to do so outside the aegis of the "environmental" movement.