Here’s an interesting little chart from a 2008 survey:


Is it evangelical theology or the high overlap between conservative politics and evangelicals that contributes most to these statistics?

I’m developing a hunch. Religious arguments against addressing global warming usually fall into the following basic categories:

  1. ‘If you think it’s hot now, wait until Jesus comes back.’ Long before global warming gets serious, Jesus will come back on a white horse, judge us, destroy the wicked with flames, and take the righteous to heaven. Just wait until you see the carbon footprint of an angry God.
  2. ‘You’re worshiping creation instead of the Creator.’ Caring for the Earth is a subtle form of paganism. Recycling leads to buying a fuel-efficient car, which leads to drum circles and neo-druid solstice rituals.
  3. ‘The Great Commission has nothing to do with lowering GHG Emissions.’ Addressing the threat of global warming doesn’t help anyone accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Therefore, anyone or any church involved in protecting the Earth is distracted from our calling to present the gospel so that people can be saved. Worse, these people are spreading this distraction to others. So this type of ‘ministry’ is actually causing countless unsaved people to go to hell, and the blood is on the hands of the global warming alarmist Christians.

I’ve been on the receiving-end of all of these statements, and I’m not at all exaggerating on the wording. Show me a Christian argument against global warming, and I will show you how it fits into one of these three categories. As we get closer to Earth Day, I’m going to be addressing each one, but I want to get back to the survey and my initial question.

The above responses aren’t at all concerned with whether an increase in CO2 from fossil fuels is causing the earth to warm at a rate that will cause the most vulnerable communities in the world to suffer from drought, hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters. None of them addresses the scientific evidence.

My hunch is that the evangelical theology from deniers doesn’t cause people to doubt the existence of anthropogenic climate change; it causes them to think that concern about it leads Christians astray. Denial of human-caused global warming is usually aimed at the scientific claims, and sounds like, ‘The earth is actually getting cooler.’ Or, ‘Warming is a natural cycle caused by the sun.’ Or, ‘Methods of measuring historical CO2 levels are untrustworthy.’ These denials compliment arguments against climate legislation, such as capping emissions.

Maybe this is an obvious distinction, but I think it’s important when it comes to having productive conversations with our friends on the subject. When people make a theological argument against care for creation, it’s about their (sometimes) sincere belief in what work is important for Christians to be involved in. When the science is attacked, it’s often because of conservative political ideology. But often these groups overlap, as the survey demonstrates.