Friday, June 16, 2017

I Don't Believe in Climate Change. I Believe in God.

I Don't Believe in Climate Change.
I Believe in God.
by Katharine Hayhoe


I don’t believe in climate change.

I believe in God. I believe He created this amazing planet we live in, and gave us responsibility—or stewardship—or dominion over it. I believe God delights in his creation and wants us to, as well. And I believe we are to love others, especially the poor, the vulnerable, and those most in need, as Christ loved us.

I’m a Christian – but I’m also a scientist. I spend my days studying how climate change is affecting us, in the places where we live. Rainfall patterns are shifting, sea level is rising, and weather is getting weirder: when we add them all up, there’s more than 26,500 separate lines of evidence that the planet is warming.

I don’t believe in global warming. The evidence of God’s creation tells us it’s real. Nearly two hundred years of meticulous scientific studies has established that it’s not a natural cycle this time: it’s us. And my own research demonstrates the severity of the consequences for all of us, particularly those less fortunate than us who are already suffering. We care about a changing climate because it exacerbates the risks we face today: hunger, poverty, disease, and injustice.

Yet when we hear Christians discussing climate change, often the predominant responses are negative: hostility, anger, and denial, a stew of toxic emotions underlain by fear. Fear of losing an identity that’s based on politics and ideology, if we get on board with a “liberal” issue; fear of rejection by our family, our community, even our church; or fear of losing our comfortable lifestyle in search of what’s right and just.

As Christians, we have a litmus test for these emotions. Because, as the apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” So when we see people responding in fear, we know that’s not who we’re meant to be.

What gifts does God give us? Power, to effect meaningful, long-term change. Love, to share God’s heart for our brothers and sisters who are hurting and in need. And a sound mind: to look at the reality of what is happening in our world and acknowledge that yes, climate change is real, it’s serious, and we need to fix it.

Being Christian isn’t a hindrance to acting on climate. On the contrary, if we believe we’re called “to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God,” then caring about a changing climate, and those already suffering its impacts, is what we’ve been created to do. It’s who we are.

 Katharine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist known for her work bridging the broad, deep gap between scientists and Christians on climate change. For her efforts, she’s been named as one of Christianity Today’s “50 Women to Watch” and Fortune’s “50 Greatest Leaders.” Follow her Facebook page and watch her PBS Digital Series, Global Weirding, for more on climate, politics, and faith. (Photo by Artie Limmer, Texas Tech University)

37 comments:

  1. Lots of Good information in your post, I favorited your blog post so I can visit again in the future, Thanks.

    Flat earth forum

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  2. It's a well-written article, but I _believe_ that the author is not using the phrase "believe in" correctly. In dictionary.com, under the definition of "believe," the verb phrase "believe in" is defined as follows:

    believe in,
    a. to be persuaded of the truth or existence of:
    (to believe in Zoroastrianism; to believe in ghosts.)
    b. to have faith in the reliability, honesty, benevolence, etc., of:
    (I can help only if you believe in me.)

    As a scientist who has examined the evidence, the author has been persuaded of the truth of climate change and its existence. One of the definitions of "persuade" is "to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince." The evidence she studies as an atmospheric scientist has induced her, convinced her, persuaded her, that climate change is real and that humans are the primary cause.

    I understand the distinction she's trying to make. Her belief in God is not based on science, whereas her belief in climate change is. But words have meaning. One cannot simply assert that a word means something different for one because it suits one's purpose at the time. For the purposes of this article, the actual meaning of "believe in" is an _inconvenient truth_ which cannot be ignored.

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    1. Correct, "One of the definitions of "persuade" is "to induce to believe by appealing to reason or understanding; convince."" That is ONE of the definitions. She is employing another commonly used and understood definition, in order to make a point. And she makes it perfectly clear that this is what she is doing. The concepts of "belief" and what they involve are what matter here, not the *words*. Appealing to the dictionary is not helpful here. It seems like a refusal to engage with the concept the author clearly laying out and using.

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    2. You're just muddying the waters, purposelessly splitting etymological hairs. She is clearly stating that for her climate change is a fact of life and not some ambiguous issue in which she has placed all her chips on the YES side. She is challenging the use of the word "believe," which denialists consistently use to suggest the issue is simply subjective, and that there is no such thing as true or false. It's a stalwart right-winger tactic in the face of anything they may not wish to be so - just say "I don't believe in it" and the problem goes away. She is saying tested facts outweigh beliefs. Let's not confuse the issue.

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    3. Thanks for this response. Good come back, calling out the denial and clarifying a point of view. Well done in a paragraph.

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  3. Katherine Hayhoe will have to answer for herself, but I think her distinction makes sense. We don't say, "I believe in Thursday." Thursday comes whether we believe in it or not. The physical facts of the universe are like that. When I say, "I believe in God," I mean I put my trust in God. I rely on God to take care of me, even when Thursday comes. Believing in God is much deeper than "believing" in climate change. We cope with climate change because we believe in God.

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    1. Thanks, Katherine -- very helpful clarification!

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  4. https://thsresearch.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/ef-gast-data-research-report-062717.pdf

    Oops.

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    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir7DdSFlI58

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    2. Yes, real science is published on wordpress sites, not Elsevier or university websites, right. It is badly written, focuses on a small zone of the US, and is not actually "peer reviewed". Either way, climate change can be proven by basic physics, which says add CO2 to the air, and it will cause the earth to retain heat. Further retreating glaciers are a bit hard to disprove...

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  5. Noah, the original Chicken Little of climate change ;-)

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    1. Well, from Noah's purview climate change was fact and occurring rather rapidly, so he acted and no doubt carefully loaded two Little Chickens, which we presume were protected from the Falling Sky.

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  6. I've been a Christian since 1973 and a geologists since 1978 working for the USGS and climate change is real. Its because we haven't been good stewarts of what God's given us. The two sides of the argument keep going because few of us want to meet in the middle. Not hard to understand given the lack of thought many American Christians have given the subject. But many scientists show the same lack of openness.

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    1. What would meeting in the middle look like?

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    2. As a scientist, I am skeptical about "Global Warming" when I read about the adjustment of the data so that it benefits the global warming agenda. Therefore, the lack of "openess"
      Science is about facts and not "openess". FYI http://www.populartechnology.net/2014/12/97-articles-refuting-97-consensus.html?m=1

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    3. "What would meeting in the middle look like?" Extinction.

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  7. I like your approach, but I have a hard time with a scientist who subscribes to magical thinking. Perhaps you have figured out a way to thread the needle to redefine god as something other that the Judaic omnipotent, involved magical being who is involved in daily matters of literally no cosmic consequence ( like Tebow's touchdown, some kid's algebra test, or your mom's breast cancer ) and ignores things of significant human consequence (like genocides, war, disease, hunger, yada yada). It anyone is making progress on the latter, it's YOU, not some missing and apparently psychotic goblin.

    For the good of science, I BELIEVE it's essential to ditch the myths of the human campfire/cave era.

    The damage of magical thinking is that this artifact of ancient human ignorance is getting in the way of progress. It's not helping things one iota. You don't need god for morals, and you sure as hell don't need her for science.

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    1. Forrest, you seem to think the problem of evil & pain is a profound philosophical touchdown against the existence of God? It isn't.

      "Plantinga's argument is a defense against the logical problem of evil as formulated by philosopher J. L. Mackie beginning in 1955.[3] Mackie's formulation of the logical problem of evil argued that three attributes of God, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence, in orthodox Christian theism are logically incompatible with the existence of evil. In 1982, Mackie conceded that Plantinga's defense successfully refuted his argument in The Miracle of Theism, though he did not claim that the problem of evil had been put to rest.[4]"
      Wikipedia

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  8. Christians often quote the Bible to support their agenda because it gets God on their side. However, the Bible is so open ended that it can easily be used to support opposing arguments. A perfect example is to compare this article by Dr. Hayhoe with one recently published by Joy Overbeck titled "Why Christians Can’t Believe in Man-Caused Global Warming" (https://townhall.com/columnists/joyoverbeck/2017/07/09/why-christians-cant-believe-in-mancaused-global-warming-n2352326).

    Both quote the Bible, both attempt to gain authority by claiming God agrees with them, but they reach completely different conclusions! Who is right?

    Clearly relying on religion to determine the truth is a lost cause, the only way to truth is through science.

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    1. The Bible, or The Big Book of Multiple Choice. :(

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    2. Here is another Christian trying to convince us that God would never let anything bad happen: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/07/13/christian-writer-climate-change-is-harmless-because-god-promises-us-good/

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    3. Hi Jeff,
      I know you're kinda new to the Christian thing, but just as there are peer-reviewed circuits in the various scientific disciplines, there are also peer-reviewed theological seminars in conservative reformed Christian bible colleges that review the kind of arguments you're linking to.
      There are valid scientific processes, and valid theological processes. Some pass muster, and some don't. But arguing that some suspect theological papers makes the entire discipline suspicious is equivalent to arguing that some Heartland institute papers are suspicious therefore the entire climate discipline is suspicious. To my ears you sound just like a climate denier linking to a bunch of Heartland institute 'papers' saying "Climate science: The Big Book of Multiple Choice." :-(

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    4. I'd just point out that your conclusion that there is no truth to be found in the Bible/ religion in general does not follow from the fact that there are multiple conflicting interpretations of the Bible/multiple conflicting religious views. First, not all interpretations are equally well reasoned. Not all Christians hold views as simple and shallow as others. As a post-Evangelical, former conservative Christian, I am critical of the theology I grew up within, preferring interpretations that I see as much more nuanced and intellectually honest.
      Second, truth may be far bigger than just what science can tell us. Science cannot guide us on what we ought to do, what we ought to value, what justice is or what love is. You may assume that we are nothing more than our biology, and the chemistry and physics that underlie it. But please recognize that this is an assumption, not a matter of fact.

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  9. Thank you Katherine for such wonderful insights. The world is so lucky to have you.

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  12. So, professor, what is your opinion of the following link to a rather ponderous and esoteric video. Is it fake news? No...really...I'd like to know, in OTHER fields and on OTHER questions, I have viewed such authors as thrice doctorate, non Christian, David Berlinski illustrate how the human need for acceptance and approval overwhelms logic (as you have often mentioned)... so I would just like to know about this supposed Nobel Laureate who denies the urgency that you speak of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1iH4DMz7QI

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    1. Yes, but the point is that climate change is as reliable a fact that for those in the temperate or tropical zones, the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, as set in the west.

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  14. “A Culture based on superstitions will do worse than one based on scientific knowledge and rational thoughts” ― Venkatraman Ramakrishnan

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  15. Yes! This is exactly what I've been trying to convince my fellow Christians of for the past 10 years! It has never made sense to me that so many Christians huff and puff at any mention of the environment or protecting the earth. It is our responsibility to take care of it. It's that simple. Thank you for taking a strong stand!

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  16. Very helpful article with a title which is misleading! I totally agree with her conclusions -- but I most did NOT read because of the title!

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