Monday, March 29, 2010

Conservative Evangelicals embrace God and green

Thought this was a very interesting read - enjoy and let me know what you think.

33 comments:

Andrew said...

Interesting mixture of faith and science. Giving people all the information they need to answer questions, allowing them to make up their own minds about climate change, seems to be a good way to go about educating people. I think Hayhoe's last quotation really sums up her sentiment:

"Doing something about climate change is loving our global neighbor," she says. "It's about caring about people who are already hurting around the world. And it's about caring for our children and future generations, who are going to inherit this earth that God has given us."

Robert said...

I appreciate the author's careful handling of balancing science and faith considerations and speaking objectively because I know how sensitive the subject can be (e.g. losing an elementary school friend for not being in his specific denomination). I think it is more articles like this, and authors like Merritt, who will be able to bridge potential gaps between theology and scientific theories. Like Merritt discusses, the two should not be in spite of each other.

I am not versed in Evangelism, so maybe some one else could elucidate potential reasons for the lower levels of acceptance in regards to global climate change literature?

Katie said...

The Likes of Jonathan Merritt have the potential to be a powerful interest group in Washington. At the very least they currently represent an intriguing voice. What they stand for is so commonly understood as 2 divergent policy issues, yet they fuction as a bridge between the aisles. I wonder if Hayhoe and others will be able to agree on a message, find a strong leader to be their political mouthpiece, and be able to bend the ear of Senators and Representatives in Washington. If they are successful, it will be apparent by what names are sponsoring environmental bills. I hope they're successful.

Allie Long said...

I think that this is an extremely interesting article and rather unexpected. The views that this article presents could potentially be very influential. The fact that evangelists, who have disagreed with most scientific findings in the past, are accepting global climate change as a real problem that humans need to stop shows the world that people from all spectrums of society believe in it- regardless of religion or politics.

I think Lamb is completely right in saying that, "Hayhoe, Farley, and Merritt all note that Evangelicals don't have to agree with scientists on every issue, such as when the earth was created or whether humans evolved from lower forms of life, in order to believe that climate change is happening and needs to be addressed." The fact that disagreement on these other issues still exists is good because it shows the universality of the problems associated to climate change. I think that people like Merrit, Farley and Hayhoe have the potential to have a strong influence on climate policy.

Katie Bean said...

As Allie pointed out, the fact that evangelical conservatives are supporting efforts to combat climate change shows the universality of this issue. Just as it should be bipartisan across political party lines, climate change should also transcend other barriers, such as religious beliefs, due to the scientific nature of the findings of increased carbon levels in the atmosphere. I think this article demonstrates the importance of educating people about climate change, showing them the scientific data, and answering basic questions about the issue. Once people have this knowledge, they can decide what they think about human-induced climate change; however, if it is far more likely that they will believe that it exists and action should be taken after being armed with correct information. It is encouraging that typically politically conservative groups such as evangelical Christians have rallied to support an issue such as climate change that has often been viewed as having a liberal slant.

Aparajita said...

The article shows that support for taking action against climate change can come from various groups of the society and the more groups we have the more power we have to make some change. Religion and science do not always go well together and so this was an unexpected but certainly interesting article.

Rosemary said...

Dr. Farley’s comment that "God has gone green, and He's never looked back” and the references to “Climategate” and “Snowmaggedon” lead me to question the sincerity of the article. Or perhaps Dr. Hayhoe’s husband is just a man who relates well to pop-culture references.

Anyway, I found it very encouraging that my peers at Baylor are the most environmentally aware group at the college yet. Having correct information available is crucial to dispelling notions that climate change isn’t a reality. And hopefully each subsequent generation may learn from the discoveries of the previous one.

An interesting article; it might be helpful to augment the opinions of these two remarkable individuals with additional Evangelical thoughts on global warming in order to understand more comprehensively this particular community's perspective on global warming.

Stephanie Beebe said...

I did not expect to read so soon that Conservative Evangelicals and other denominations of Christianity are embracing climate change. Religious groups are usually very effective in perpetuating new ideas into their followers, which in the case of climate change is a great thing. Perhaps we need the additional push from passionate religious members to lobby for and enact climate policy both domestically and internationally. Crazy!

Rosemary said...

In response to my previous post, I just saw the word "Climategate" in the March 20th-26th issue of "The Economist." I guess it is a legitimate term. You learn something new every day!

Jarrett W. Brotzman said...

This article kind of leaves me with a bad aftertaste. On one hand, the article carefully addresses the issue of faith, politics, and belief in a type of climate change rather delicately.

On another hand, this article brings up a point that has raised some major issues for me. The fact that some people "believe" in man made climate change raises some red flags for me. I find it a bit disturbing that some people either belief in it, or dont as a matter of faith, rather than a conclusion based on facts.

The mixture of faith and environmental issues just seems to unnaturally distort the issue. Thoughts?

Caitie said...

Everyone on this earth should have a common interest in preserving the environment, whether they are believers of scientific or religious theory. Accepting global climate change as an unavoidable reality does not require one to sacrifice their religious beliefs, but encourages cooperative action towards mitigating climate change’s detrimental effects on the environment. Evangelicals may value the preservation of the environment because it is God’s gift to humanity, while a government may desire action to ensure the continued well-being of its nation’s population. Though the reasoning may differ, the objective to preserve is the same. It’s great to see that many Evangelicals have been able to look beyond their often tenuous relationship with science. The environmental debate has had the power to pull together a broad range of groups that would not typically be associated. This is really important since progress will require everyone’s cooperation, not just that of governments.

Chas said...

I found the point that religious minded people, specifically Evangelists, do not have to agree with scientists on other issues such as the evolution of man or the way the earth was created very interesting. It is encouraging to see that Evangelists and other religious groups are looking at data and science and basing their beliefs on scientific evidence rather than blindly following the teachings of the bible. However, it seems as if they are looking at the data in this case because taking care of the environment can be supported by the Bible. However, where evidence exists on issues such as evolution and the creation of the earth these Evangelists ignore the evidence because evolution cannot be supported by the Bible. I feel as if Evangelists and other religious minded groups are walking a fine line between believing in scientific evidence versus the teachings of the Bible and I find the lack of regard for scientific evidence not supported by the Bible frustrating.

However, if the idea that the Bible can be used to promote climate control and actual results can be achieved through this method than I would welcome the progress.

Tara said...

In response to Robert's question about the lower acceptance of climate change in Evangelism, in another one of my classes, we discussed how in Christianity there is the accepted notion that people were made to conquer and "civilize" the land by developing cities, in contrast to some other religions where the environment is seen as sacred and integral to their culture. I think that for this reason, many Evangelicals find that climate science and their religion are incompatible since their religion tells them that they have dominion over other species. However, I think that people, such as Dr. Farley can be very influential in changing people's minds, especially since Evangelical Christians are an increasingly powerful force in the US. Having them accept climate change could make a huge difference in terms of US policy. This article shows that climate change is finally starting to cross party and religious lines.

Stevenson said...

I think that a lot of the class has made great points that really demonstrate some of the major issues with the article. I especially thought Chas made an interesting argument in that it appears evangelicals are almost making "concessions" to the general public on climate issues. By basing their progressive actions in the bible, it seems that evangelicals are able to avert "losing face" with their faith bases by sticking to doctrine while also promoting environmental stewardship. This does bring up a question of sincerity in protecting the environment and the beliefs behind it. This divergent structure could potentially create problems for future outcomes on similar issues.

I also wanted to mention that this is an interesting article because it shows a clear progression of addressing the issue of climate change. In my opinion this article is a great example of how the general public, including evangelicals, are shifting from whether or not global climate change is real based on scientific fact, to what can be done about it. However, again there could potentially be a problem if they are shifting other than for reasons associated with scientific fact and research.

Joe said...

This is a very interesting article shows a change in some conservative Christians’ views. It is a very controversial issue, and one that has become even more so since “Snowmageddon” and “Climategate”, but the author does a good job of presenting a solid argument. Religion and science has never gone hand in hand, but some Christians, including the Heyhoe’s are realizing a need for change. They believe that people should be presented the facts and then be allowed to make their own decision. I think it is interesting to read that Baylor has seen a shift in beliefs and consider this generation to be the “greenest generation” they have ever had. Students have been given the facts about climate change and have been able to make their own decisions in a conservative Christian environment.

Caroline said...

I enjoyed the article although I would have appreciated more discussion on exactly why it is that a large number of Evangelicals do not believe in climate change. From what I gathered it's because they don't believe in human-induced climate change, meaning they don't believe that humans can have an effect on the earth of that magnitude? Or perhaps it is just that they don't believe that climate change is a problem or that it is happening at all. I would have appreciated more discussion on exactly why Evangelicals typically are doubtful about climate change, and also if there are other religions that stand out in the same way.

Jeremy said...

I never was aware that there was a religious issue regarding climate change nor can I wrap my head around how evidence for climate change clash with religion. I'm glad to see that according to the article that climate change is becoming more accepted amongst the religious community. What's bothered me is how fiercely people can deny it. I always felt enacting policies to stop climate change were almost a win win. Even if it were somehow not caused by humans, we would at least have clean air. And with increased oxygen to the brain maybe scientists could cure cancer or accomplish something else monumental.

Ned said...

I'm going to go ahead and shake things up a bit and say that maybe this synthesis of environmentalism and theology isn't that revolutionary. The genesis based argument for being environmental stewards rather than reapers has been around for some time. Its effectiveness is not so pro-active in tending to the environment, rather it keeps people from making shallow excuses for ecological mis-use. On the other hand though, religion provides another form of motivation (other than economic) to tend to environmental issues. I guess the next step is to add carbon sequestration to services, I think there's usually a bit of down time right after communion....

Ben said...

This article shows the important role that the young generations have in bridging the gap between religion and science, God and the environment. While older generations may have been raised to see their religious beliefs to be incompatible with science, younger generations have been exposed to science earlier on, and are more willing to accept its teachings. Scholars such as Lynn White have pointed to Christianity as the cause of our environmental crises, but articles such as this suggest it may be a solution. In tandem, religion and science can work together to mitigate our environmental crises by creating more respect for the planet and forcing us to reconsider destructive practices.

Jarrett Smith said...

This article does a great job of adressing the long-time belief that faith and science cannot co-exist. Generally it's been believed if you are religious you have to discredit large parts of science, and if you're more scientific in your thinking you have to discredit large parts of religion. This assertion becomes problematic when evironmental issues are solved politically, and religion is a big part of politics.

Environmental issues really aren't a religious or poitical problem but are quality of life issues. It effects our economy, human health, and the global climate. All of these areas have indisputeable evidence that support this claim. Since Christians strive toward upflifting humanity, they should be able to see how this is an issue of their concern. This article is showing they are, and when presented with solely the facts of they matter they are changing their views. Hopefully this is a great indication of future trends, because environmentalists will need the support of religious groups to further their cause.

andrewsl11 said...

I found this article to be fascinating. The idea that someone could not believe in global warming seems somewhat ludicrous to me, since all scientific evidence points towards the fact that global warming is occurring. However, the way that the author uses his faith to justify action once he 'believed' in climate change is wonderful. While traditionally science and religion have not mixed well, I think that this is a great example of how religious beliefs can be used to provide moral suasion for people to make the correct choices for the environment. Using this argument, politicians can reach out to people who otherwise wouldn't accept climate change legislation.

Hillary said...

I don’t understand why very strict Christians refused to believe in climate change in the first place. First off, climate change is Not a religion- it is not part of a religion, and it has never been part of any religion. It is not something you can choose to believe or disbelieve- you either choose to ignore scientific data or pay attention to it. I think that to preach against climate change is positively ridiculous, and to refuse the responsibility for what has happened to the Earth is even more bizarre. It is very encouraging to know some sects have got it right finally- even if it took a while.

boehlinga10 said...

This is a cool story of a few individuals who consider themselves "extreme" Evangelical Christians that have turned to science rather than faith to address the issue of climate change. While this scenario seems perfectly plausible and obvious to someone like me, I don't know how easy it would be to convince the many other "hardcore" Christians. Even though the science of the matter points in one direction, I feel like there are thousands of people whose viewpoints cannot and will not be changed due to their strong faith.

I did like the reaction to "Climategate" and "Snowmaggedon" in that climate change is causing many different extreme weather patterns (like the freak snowstorms), not only increased temperatures. I feel like many people have this misconception that climate change is something that merely increases global temperatures, and "makes earth hot." This is obviously not the case.

Roberta Santana said...

I don't know if is a good way mixture "God and green". Doing it, we can start other discussion losing the focus. Although, this "mixture" can touch a bigger amount of people. I don't know.. I have always prefered to separate religiousness and science. As somebody said, I am not expert in theology, but my first point of view is that this separation makes more sense.

Taylor Malone said...

I appreciate this article for its quirky mix of Evangelical Christianity and climate change. If the most conservative faction of the conservative right in the United States can steadily be made to believe in climate change, then our country might actually enact some meaningful climate change legislation in the future. The Evangelicals have a strong lobby and are influential in politics.

It's interesting to see different denominations within Christianity interpret their duty to the Earth so differently - some adhere to the dominion creed, whereas others adhere to the creed of stewardship and responsible usage of natural resources.

Pearson P. Nibley said...

Evangelicals place in the field of environmental studies is one of the more interesting topics you come across in the subject. You hear people such as Lynn White Jr. in his piece "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis" put blame on Christianity for their anthropocentrism and rule over nature, while others often cite Christian passages that suggest a stewardship attitude towards nature and the environment. While I'm not the most religious person here, I don't think it's right to try and stereotype an entire religion as anthropocentric or environmentally-concious based mostly upon written passages and past sentiments. I also feel a major obstacle for getting people on board with the "Green Movement" or climate change belief nowadays is the fact that these topics are often viewed as a left vs. right political matter. I enjoy the main principal of the Evangelicals article because it is suggesting that acknowledging climate change and environmental issues are not a matter of being conservative or liberal, but rather a citizen of the Earth. Until we overcome the left-right issue, I don't think major steps will be made to slow climate change and other major ecological problems.

James said...

For some time now, I know that many religious people have taken a faith based approach to climate change. The moral and social obligations have always been there. People like Merritt are starting to make their case to evangelicals: a group that I believe values their faith over conservative ideals. It will be interesting to see what happens with the new message.

The last quote given in the article left an excellent impression...

Tess Hayden said...

The one section of this article that I had trouble with was a quote from Farley. "Their goal is to 'present the scientific fatcs to Christians with the data and let them sit down and make up their own minds.'" I think that's great that they are not forcing their ideas on others, but what happens when these people make up their minds that climate change is not happening? Then there is a whole group of people that will continue business as usual while many other groups are trying to fight climate change. I would hope that the couple was just taking it one step at a time: the first step would be to convince people climate change is happening, and then the second step would be to convince people to take action. Besides that, I think it is great that Farley and Hayhoe are introducing climate change into their community. I think it is a great initial step in getting more people to take action.

Beth said...

I thought this article was very interesting, and rather long overdue. Although it can be seen as controversial because traditionally, Evangelicals have not been supportive of climate change, I think climate change is congruent with many Christian principles and should be accepted as fact by this faith. For example, I'm surprised Evangelicals did not create an uproar when progressive technology and industry began destroying the environment, something that God created for his people to enjoy. I would personally think that it would be advantageous for Christians as a whole to support the scientific evidence proving climate change because this data proves that God is not slowly destroying the earth, people are.
While running the risk that comes with using a fictional media reference, this article makes me think of the controversy surrounding the release of Angels and Demons. I will never understand why some fundamental Christians are against using science to further their personal beliefs. It seems like these two realms can have some overlap instead of being one or the other.

stuttsb said...

While the article reports on conservative evangelicals accepting that anthropogenic global warming is happening and needs to be addressed, the article also mentioned how most white evangelicals and even most other white protestants remain skeptical about humans causing global warming. I think the example of how Dr. Heyhoe convinced Dr. Farley by showing him the data and explaining the evidence might be a more productive means of informing the public about global warming rather than merely saying anthropogenic global warming is a conclusive fact they should believe because of scientific consensus. Instead, more discussion with the public on the actual existing hard data and evidence on climate change can enable the public to understand and reach a conclusion more firmly grounded than accepting one person's word against another's. I guess the difficulty is in disseminating that information, since not everyone has a spouse who is an expert on the subject.

martine10 said...

This article is very interesting. I find it a little strange that the legitimacy of climate change is a belief for some people. Instead, I think that climate change should be confirmed or disproved by scientific data only.

With that being said, I am relieved that the people described in this article have been able to change their views and begin to “believe” in climate change. This article demonstrates how convoluted of an issue climate change actually is for some people. It also demonstrates the importance of informing all different groups of people about the reality of climate change so that they do not act from ignorant beliefs.

mancinia11 said...

As many have pointed out already, this is a very interesting article on the relation between science and religion in the context of climate change. If we want to effectively fight climate change, it will take everyone, regardless of faith, politics, or anything else. Conservative evangelicals' ability to have their faith work with the facts of climate change is definitely a step in the right direction.

Ellie said...

One of my favorite parts about this article was how people such as Farley, who were once skeptical about climate change, alter their opinion after being presented with current data and information. Farley explained that Hayhoe would, "show me the data, And after being presented with the data, I would lose the argument." After a while, "I became increasingly convinced [and said to myself] 'I see it now.'" He continues by stating that people have many questions and, "Once you provide people with answers, that's the information that they need to make up their own minds." I think that this point is incredibly important because many people have a preconceived opinion about climate change without being properly informed. Therefore it is important to educate these people and force them to consider all of the undeniable information and facts about climate change which will hopefully inform them of this detrimental issue and the importance of change in human behavior.