It's a popular argument used by many in the global warming alarmist activist community - that there's a Christian basis for combating the threat of so-called anthropogenic global warming. In 2008, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean admitted as much - that his party use this issue in particular to win over the Christian community.
And it is one that has been echoed by the media as well. From The Washington Post to CNN, the press has propagated the belief that Holy Scripture teaches that man has a responsibility to combat global warming. But that's not the case, according to Dr. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. Beisner, speaking at the Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change on May 18 in Chicago, was asked if there was any Biblical basis that would lead evangelical Christians to assume they had a duty to join the anti-global warming bandwagon.
"I don't think they have any good Biblical basis at all," Beisner said. "What they do is they jump quickly from the Biblical teaching that we're supposed to be caring for the poor to ‘global warming is going to hurt the poor more than it hurts anybody else,' which by the way is true of every problem. You know, poverty makes you vulnerable, period. Wealth makes you less vulnerable, period. There's even a proverb in the book of Proverbs that says essentially that."
According to Beisner, the belief that fighting global warming was a component of helping the poor was specifically used by the Evangelical Environmental Network and endorsed by others to make this case.
"They jump quickly from, ‘We need to help the poor,' to ‘global warming is going to hurt the poor, therefore we need to fight global warming,'" Beisner said. "In 2006, a group - the Evangelical Environmental Network launched a new project called the Environmental Climate Initiative, which put out a statement, ‘Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.' And that statement was endorsed by 86 different leading evangelicals - presidents of the evangelical colleges, admission organizations. And I went down the list of endorsers. There was no list of authors of that. I later found out the main author was an ethics professor named David Gushee. When I debated him over that at this university, he told me before the debate, ‘You know when I was preparing for this debate, I found out the science was a whole more nuanced than I realized when I wrote the paper.' I thought, ‘David, you should have known that before you wrote.'"
Beisner explained this desire stems from a misunderstanding of the science and the economic consequences of acting on this alleged threat.
"But, I asked and various reporters asked a number of different people who endorsed that statement why they endorsed it and what did they know about the science," Beisner said. "None of them knew anything about the science. I could recognize that because I knew most of them. But I knew that they didn't have the background in either the science or the economics to assess what claims are being made. One of them, a president of a very well known evangelical college said, ‘I just wanted to make it clear I wanted to help the poor.'"
The bottom line: The Bible doesn't suggest Christians have a duty to in their day-to-day behavior to limit their carbon output.
"That's about the extent of it," he continued. "There is no Biblical basis. In fact, we don't argue for a very strong Biblical world view that resists the notion that the minute change in atmospheric chemistries - CO2 going from 28,000ths of a percent of the atmosphere to 54,000ths of a percent is going to cause devastation that's going to put human civilization at risk. I just don't think that fits a Biblical world view at all and we give a number of reasons why we think so."