Science and Religion

The intersection of science and religion seems to continually generate controversy in our society. In my estimation, much of the problem is due to issues of language and epistemology, which is the nature of knowledge and the way in which we learn. While I am very interested in this topic generally, I am specifically interested in how it impacts the acceptance of climate change science in the United States. A few years ago I wrote an article entitled Global Warming: Scientific Basis and Christian Responses, which was published in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith. This article discusses how different evangelical groups respond to the science of global warming or climate change, terms which are overlapping in the scientific community.

During 2011-12, I have had the privilege of participating in the writing of two documents that seek to relate evangelical doctrine to climate change. The first of these is called Loving the Least of These. It was commissioned and adopted by the National Association of Evangelicals and is referenced on their website.

The second is a considerably longer report that was written by the Creation Stewardship Task Force organized under the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA). This report was considered by the 2012 CRCNA Synod and its recommendations were adopted by the Synod with some minor changes. The principal recommendations on climate change from the report are:

E. That synod affirm the following findings (see section IX, C) concerning climate change and that it commend them to the churches as guides to prayer, discussion, direct action, and advocacy:
  1. Climate change is occurring and is very likely due to human activity.
  2. Human-induced climate change is a moral, ethical, and religious issue.
  3. Human-induced climate change poses a significant threat to future generations, the poor, and the vulnerable.
  4. Human-induced climate change poses a significant challenge to us all.
  5. Urgent action is required to address climate change. This includes actions at the personal, community, and political levels toward reducing human causes of climate change and mobilizing ourselves to urgent assistance of those who are forced to adapt to its negative effects.

These two documents provide a basis for understanding the science and consequences of climate change in the context of evangelical thought. I am happy to discuss the content of these documents with those who are interested in pursuing this topic further. I hope to write more on this and related topics in the near future.

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