Would Jesus Accept Climate Science?

Photo by Daniel Oines https://flic.kr/p/dzwjE3Climate change science is causing a schism of sorts among American Christians. On one side, you have Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University and an Evangelical Christian, who educates the public on the dangers of climate change. And, on the other, you have Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance, who discounts climate science by calling it a bunch of alarmism.

With all this rhetoric going back and forth, what’s a Christian in the U.S. supposed to believe? Is climate science just a lot of alarmist junk cooked up by liberals in Washington? Or is there some truth to it?

Dr. Beisner’s Case Against Climate Change

In Beisner’s opinion, science today isn’t based on the moral grounding it should be. “Sometimes we talk about a society living on the moral capital of previous generations, but as that deteriorates you have that moral decay going on,” said Besiner in an interview for the New American. “I think we’re seeing that in the sciences and particularly in relation to climate science.”

He paints a picture of science, a once noble practice, being hijacked by a big-government agenda. The scientists who conclude that climate change is real and a serious problem, aren’t basing those conclusions on any “observations in the real world” or the “objective reality” that’s out there. They’re merely using this climate change science to further an agenda — an agenda that wants for some reason to make climate change an issue. And, yes, there is (of course) a comparison to be made with Nazi, Germany.

“In a world dominated by capitalism, climate change is a handy thing to come along,” said Beisner. “Climate change can be a reason for furthering a lot of the political ideals that we’ve had all along, but not been able to show a good rationale for.”

Beisner speaks in a measured, professor-like tone using fancy, intelligent-sounding phrases like “flight from logos” to mean illogical and “postmodern deconstructionism” to describe scientific findings that are baseless. As I listened to him spout these terms that are, quite honestly, a flight from logos in themselves, I could see why Cornwall Alliance’s funders want to make him the face of the organization. It’s rare to find a person who can compare climate scientists to mass-murdering Nazis and still be able to throw out terms like “postmodern deconstructionism.”

If you’re taken in by his big words and think that scientists only further government agendas, then Beisner may be your guy. But if you’re curious about all the droughts, wildfires, and powerful storms and want someone who can actually talk about the issue with you in a way that you can understand, maybe you should look elsewhere.

Dr. Hayhoe’s Climate Change Concerns

Hayhoe is director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She researches the regional to local-scale impacts of climate change on human systems and the natural environment by analyzing observations, comparing future scenarios, and evaluating models. Hayhoe’s work has resulted in over 100 peer-reviewed papers, abstracts, and other publications and many key reports including the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Second National Climate Assessment; the U.S. National Academy of Science report; and the Third National Climate Assessment.

Beisner may argue that a firm climate science believer like Hayhoe shouldn’t be trusted because she lacks a strong moral standing. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, Hayhoe is a devout Evangelical Christian who believes that caring about the issue is one of the most Christian things you can do.

“The people we trust, the people we respect, the people whose values we share, in the conservative community, in the Christian community, those people are telling us, many of them, that this isn’t a real problem — that it’s a hoax,” Hayhoe said in a recent NPR interview. “Even worse, that you can’t be a Christian and think that climate change is real. You can’t be a conservative and agree with the science.”

Unlike Beisner’s big words and pedantic tone, Hayhoe seems to have a friendly and approachable style. In interviews she characterizes herself as an “optimist” and jokes about her Canadian heritage. But there is no discounting the wisdom behind her words. She lays out the logic behind her knowledge that climate change is real and an issue we should be dealing with.

So Who Should Christians Believe?

Both Dr. Beisner and Dr. Hayhoe are scientists. And both Dr. Beisner and Dr. Hayhoe are Christians. So which side should a Christian take when deciding whether to accept climate change science?

The answer to that question lies in an exercise of your own free will. God gave us brains to make good choices. You can either make the choice to care about the planet and its people, or you can make the choice not to. It’s just important to remember that you will also have to deal with the consequences of those choices. And as a Christian, it’s important to consider what choice Jesus would make.

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About the Author

I'm an organic-eating, energy-saving naturalist who composts and tree hugs in her spare time. I have a background in environmental law, lobbying, and field work. I believe in God; however, I do not call myself a Christian or a Jew or a member of any religion. I am merely someone who finds a spiritual connection to all humans and the environment. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .