Environmentalism a “False Religion?”

Protecting and sustaining our environment is a core value that seems to be common sense. It never occurred to me that this value might somehow conflict with religion – after all, isn’t being a good steward of the earth a goal of numerous faiths? Apparently not.

As reported in The New York Times, there is a strong push back by Christian evangelists against environmentalism. I find this mind boggling.

This movement refers to itself as “Resisting the Green Dragon” {is such a moniker supposed to conjure images of fire breathing dragons in a prehistoric era?} and refers to enviornmentalism as a “false religion.” Is it not a science? Shouldn’t scientific data drive the conversation?

Below is a sample from the “Resisting the Green Dragon” video series:

“Resisting the Green Dragon is the result of Cornwall’s efforts in studying the environmental movement, analyzing its errors and identifying expert speakers who could address them with outstanding authority and grace,” Beisner said. The 12-part DVD series, and bonus 33-minute documentary, unite an impressive array of respected evangelical experts in science, theology, economics, and the environment. It includes a discussion guide, practical suggestions for small group projects, and other print and broadcast resources.
“Today’s environmentalism isn’t a neutral set of ideas that can be tacked onto the Christian faith without theological compromise,” Beisner said. “Instead, it promotes its own worldview and its own doctrines of God, creation, humanity, sin, and salvation. And those doctrines aren’t Biblical.”

Resisting the Green Dragon full promo from Cornwall Alliance on Vimeo.

As a scientist, I would not presume to comment about religious faith. It is disturbing that evangelists would endeavor to comment about science. Perhaps someone could explain this.

Prince Charles recently produced a broadcast “Harmony – A New Way of Looking at Our World” that brings into the discussion the enviornment, economics and science. To quote:

Imagine a world a healthier, safer and more sustainable economical robust world. Remember that our children and grandchildren will ask not what our generation said but what it did. So let us give us an answer of which we can be proud.”

Drawing on cases from farming, healthcare, transportation, and design, the Prince of Wales also offers solutions for change, creating a new vision for our world, one that incorporates the traditional wisdom of our past with the modern science of our present to avert catastrophe. In the end, Harmony paints a holistic portrait of what we as a species have lost in the modern age, while outlining the steps we can take to regain the harmony of our ancestors.

Let us hope that voices of reason will prevail.

Comments

  1. #1 Markk
    January 1, 2011

    This has been around since at least the days of ascetic monks and St. Augustine – the city of God vs the evil physical world.

  2. #2 Russell
    January 1, 2011

    If someone believes that Jesus will return in just a couple of generations to create a new earth — as did Reagan’s Secretary of Interior James Watt — then worrying about the long-term effects of greenhouse gases is nicely moot. I’m not sure how the “voices of reason” are supposed to prevail when they restrain themselves from commenting on that kind of religious faith.

  3. #3 george.w
    January 1, 2011

    As a scientist, I would not presume to comment about religious faith.

    Why not? When religion makes testable claims about the physical universe. Which they do all the time. Seems to me they’re just begging for scientific response.

  4. #4 Roland
    January 1, 2011

    I bet this was thought up by some corporate asstroturfer. Religious folks are certainly easy to manipulate. Make a guess: means, motive, opportunity. Who’s the culprit?

  5. #5 Rob
    January 1, 2011

    In Genesis, Adam was instructed to tend the garden and take care of it. Eve was to be the nurturer. Yes God instructed man to take care of HIS creation, but what Al Gore and minions like him are doing is not the same. They are proposing radical marxist totalitarian style rule in the name of the environment. It’s more about socialism and redistribution of money than about the earth. That’s why churces reject it. Socilaism contradicts and is the direct enemy of God’s word. We as INDIVIDUALS, not collectives, can take care of our own piece of the earth and do our part in conservation but this global warming scam has gotten out of control.

  6. #6 darwinsdog
    January 1, 2011

    Socilaism (sic) contradicts and is the direct enemy of God’s word.

    Sheesh, Rob, read the Book of Acts. The early Church was consummately Socialist.

    What I think is hilarious is how latter day Christians have been manipulated into embracing greed based Capitalism, in direct contradiction to what Jesus taught. Scripture verses advocating stoning gays to death are gleefully embraced while the verses admonishing believers to “sell all that ye have and give to the poor” are carefully ignored.

  7. #7 bomoore
    January 1, 2011

    One exasperating behavior that I find across the board is that no one defines the terms they are using – what one person means by science, religion, proof, fact, environmentalism, etc. is NOT a match to what others mean by those terms. The internet allows people to babble away at each other in tragically different languages that all appear to be English – but which English?

    The breakdown in language ability nurtured by public education is merely getting amplified on the net.

  8. #8 Phisrow
    January 1, 2011

    I am continually baffled by the fact that so many people manage to lose their marbles over the tiny number of ‘let-us-dance-with-the-mother-Gaia-goddess’ environmentalists, who are(at least arguably) something resembling an actual outbreak of pantheism and completely ignore the much more common and prosaic forms.

    Surely “Don’t **** where you sleep” is an apolitical position and common-sense for all(and, incidentally, an old testament injunction, come to think of it)?

    Are they just idiots, or is some well organized PR firm spreading astroturf to the effect that anybody who isn’t OK with drinking hexavalent chromium clearly hates jesus?

  9. #9 Jeff
    January 1, 2011

    Agreed. A healthy intellectual discussion should include a clear definition of terms and not delve into emotionalism. I find it disturbing that there appears to be a general trend of “anti-intellectualism” that has been embraced by extremist groups, now becoming accepted more and more as the norm. Thank you, readers, for adding to a good discussion.

  10. #10 Pierce R. Butler
    January 1, 2011

    It never occurred to me that this value might somehow conflict with religion…

    Where is the rock that you have apparently been living under for the last 30+ years?

    It is disturbing that evangelists would endeavor to comment about science.

    Correction: where is that rock you’ve been living under since 1859?

  11. #11 Jeff
    January 1, 2011

    Of course! It does not make it less disturbing – perhaps more so.

  12. #12 darwinsdog
    January 1, 2011

    ..anybody who isn’t OK with drinking hexavalent chromium clearly hates jesus?

    Mark 16:18: “They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.” NLT ’07

    This is the level of craziness the True Believers subscribe to. Why would you be surprised that corporatist PR lackeys wouldn’t attempt to direct such gullibility to bottom line ends?

  13. #13 killinchy
    January 2, 2011

    isn’t being a good steward of the earth a goal of numerous faiths? Apparently not.

    But the Bible doesn’t mention stewardship. Man was given ‘dominion’ over the earth.

    And dominion we shall have until, one day quite soon, the good lord will return to sort out the sheep from the goats.

    I’m quite looking forward to it myself. Baa

  14. #14 killinchy
    January 2, 2011

    isn’t being a good steward of the earth a goal of numerous faiths? Apparently not.

    But the Bible doesn’t mention stewardship. Man was given ‘dominion’over the earth.

    And dominion we shall have until, one day quite soon, the good lord will return to sort out the sheep from the goats.

    I’m quite looking forward to it myself. Baa

  15. #15 Knightly
    January 2, 2011

    I pray to my apple tree daily, and given enough time it always provides for me precisely what I asked for.

    …as long as I asked for apples. And only one kind of apple. And not too many.

  16. #16 Rob
    January 2, 2011

    @drwinsdog

    No, socialism and the Bible are contradictory of each other. What Jesus taught people was to give to the poor and help the sick. That is, he taught INDIVIDUALS to give of their own free will. He did not have Ceasar cofiscate their money and redistribute it according to what the government saw fit. That is socialism.

    Jesus did not see us as “collective” he saw us as independent sovereign individuals who make individual choices. As individuals He taughts us to give to the poor, help the sick, etc. He did not embrace stealing monye and redistributing it. As a matter of fact what you are proposing contradicts one of the 10 commandments – THOU SHALT NOT STEAL!.

    Jesus was the Son of God. he was not a socialist. Socialism is a satanic idea. The idea that you can force someone against their will to give up thier hard earned belongings so that a government panel can decide who gets what is just plain wrong.

    Individual sovereignty has always been a freedom for man. Socialism is a direct threat to freedom and a direct threat to the church. it should be abolished. However, with the coming globalist order and regime “state capitalism”, aka national socialism, will reign until Jesus returns and wipes it out.

  17. #17 darwinsdog
    January 2, 2011

    He did not have Ceasar (sic) cofiscate (sic) their money and redistribute it according to what the government saw fit.

    Oh yeah? Matthew 22:21: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s..”

    You can twist Scripture to fit the tenets of the greed based Capitalism you’ve been inculcated with all you want, Rob. God sees your advocacy of “individual sovereignty” and “freedom for man” for what it is: Pride, and the age old attempt to vault individual will over God’s will. The sin of Lucifer, actually. Choose ye this day who ye will serve, Rob.

    (Christ! Why am I arguing with an illiterate?)

  18. #18 Mal Adapted
    January 2, 2011

    (Christ! Why am I arguing with an illiterate?)

    One hopes your arguments may reach the uncommitted lurkers, dd. You’re one of the more persuasive arguers on scienceblogs. Keep it up!

  19. #19 Alan
    January 3, 2011

    Re #16 “Socialisim is satanic” – Better not sit on your toilet, lest Satan springs forth from the socialist sewerage system and bites your arse.

  20. #20 Rob
    January 4, 2011

    @darwinsdog

    Capitalism and freedom go hand in hand. Socialism and dictatorship go hand in hand. It is the far left anti-christian radicals that twist scripture to fit the needs of their utopia.

    God created everyone equal in value in His eyes. He did not say that everyone would be rich. He did not say everyone would be exactly the same. Individualism reigns. Everyone has different talents and different ways.

    Socialism restricts talent and restricts success. Who are you to say whether I can make $25,000 this year or $250,000,000? You do not have the authorty to restrict my success based on the satanic lie of social justice.

    Free will is God’s way. He does not force you give to the poor and help the sick and house the homeless.

    I am all for helping people. I am all for helping homeless people find a home. However, I disagree with giving it to them. They have to earn it. It is the job of the church, not the government, to do these things. Unfortunately, the church has gotten away from helping the sick and homeless, and poor. Then the government somewhow got it into their minds that they are responsible for these things.

    If someone is too sick or elderly to make it on their own, then I am all for government assistance. I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is social justice. It is not Biblical, it is satanic.

    I have no problem in government helping people financially if they truly cannot help the situation. That is fine. I have no problem. However, I see so many who soley rely on government handouts that they fair better taking a free handout than actually working for what they are getting. That is wrong! Government should help people, but not carry it so far that the people actually rely on government instead of God and self.

    Self reliance makes a more properous nation than a nation of handout recipients.

    As far as these stupid labor unions go, they are bankrupting the system with their greed. Labor unions should be banned. With modern labor laws, the union is no longer valid. Instead of a pension, the individuals should rely on self and God to save money on their own and in their own way and not rely on a pension taht would will someday bankrupt the system.

    I have no pension, yet I am able to save for myself. If you really want retirement, phase out social security. Then I can take the money that I pay into social security, triple it, and retire earlier. That is true freedom.

    Do you agree with state capitalism (national socialism)? That is what China is right now. We see how free they are. Our government spending should be cut by 40%, the government offices cut by 25%, then get us out of the UN, stop paying organizations like Planned parenthood (wretched filthy hethens)and the like and we would have more than enough money in the nation.

    There has never been a nation of socialists who was not under control of an evil regime that restricted freedom and success.

    Restricting people’s success is not part of the constitution. It is part of a secualr socilaist utopia that only exists in the minds of the weak and evil.

  21. #21 Sharon Astyk
    January 5, 2011

    Speaking as a science writer (but not a scientist) and religious (liberal) Jew, I’m perhaps overambitious, but I’d presume to comment on both ;-). I do a lot of work on climate change and resource availability with churches, synagogues, mosques and other religious organizations, and it is helpful to understand the background culture in which this is emerging.

    The first point I’d observe is that this is a *response* to an emerging environmentalism among American evangelical Christians. I had the privelege and pleasure of being a keynote speaker, for example, at a conference on climate change held at a major evangelical university (perhaps because I write about both religion and environmental issues. It was fascinating to me to watch the way the issue is playing out among Conservative Christians, and after decades of associating environmentalism with the left, there is a subset of American evangelicals who are working desperately hard to make sure that the science of climate change, environmentalism and resource depletion get taken seriously and relieved of their ideological associations. These people get a lot of nasty blowback as well within their community, and there’s a battle going on. The Green Dragon crap is a part of that.

    I think it is important to understand that despite the perception that American conservative Christianity is a monolith, it isn’t – it is complicated, it has liberal and conservative branches and segments that are definitely movable on environmental issues, particularly if you can dissociate this (as unfair as the association of basic science with ideology is, it is a fact) from its political taint. The Harvard University School of Public Health has sponsored some of these conferences, and made overtures to the Southern Baptist convention and other organizations on the right to try and help evangelical environmentalists find a solid place to stand.

    My own opinion is that statistically speaking, any kind of major policy shift in the US that actually addresses climate change or other environmental issues will depend on engaging portions of the right – there simply isn’t enough left left to save the world, so to speak. The evolution of Christian environmentalism, IMHO, is one of the most important things going on in the US, and how and whether it emerges or is marginalized is going to have an enormous impact on world climate policy.

    Sharon Astyk

  22. #22 bmack500
    January 5, 2011

    @Rob
    You are truly an evil man. Your forked tongue speaks for itself.

  23. #23 Jeff
    January 5, 2011

    Thank you, Sharon, for your thoughtful and insightful response. It is greatly appreciated.

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  25. #25 darwinsdog
    January 5, 2011

    “..evangelical environmentalists..”

    Now there’s an oxymoron, if I ever heard one.

    Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” -1st John 2:15

  26. #26 Jeff
    January 5, 2011

    No profanity, please. Note to readers: a previous commenter was reported as Spam due to profanity.

  27. #27 Rob
    January 5, 2011

    Being a lover of freedom and an enemy to socialism does not make me an evil man. Hitler was an evil man. Stalin was an evil man. Lenin was an evil man. Mao was an evil man. Che was an evil man. Castro is an evil man. Van Jones is an evil man. Micheal Moore is an evil man.

    I am not an evil man. I fight against those who wish to restrict individual freedom in the name of “collective” freedom. Any man who adheres to the lies of ‘collective” freedom is an evil man.

  28. #28 darwinsdog
    January 5, 2011

    I don’t believe in metaphysical evil. To me, evil is as evil does. To advocate an ideology that would deprive needy people of food, shelter, or other necessities in the name of “freedom” is functionally evil, Rob. You seem to have been infected with ideas that are evil and you publicly promote those ideas. I have to agree with bmack500. You ARE an evil person.

    You’re no Christian, either. You place your 21st century right-wing ideology over the teachings of Christ. Anyone who has read the Bible is well aware that the ideals you profess are in direct contradiction with the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of Jesus Christ. Have you even read the Bible? Somehow, your poor command of English makes me doubt that you have. Or maybe you’ve tried to read it but didn’t understand it. If you are sincere about your salvation, I strongly suggest that you seek spiritual counseling from a pastor who is actually familiar with the Gospel message, and isn’t infected with greed-based capitalist ideologies such as you espouse. God bless.

  29. #29 darwinsdog
    January 5, 2011

    No profanity, please. Note to readers: a previous commenter was reported as Spam due to profanity.

    Profanity isn’t spamming. To report it as such is dishonest. The Dean of an academic program should recognize this distinction. Since I assume that you do recognize the difference, I can only conclude that you engaged in willful dishonesty. You should rectify this injustice and publicly apologize to the commenter you falsely “reported.”

    I’m no fan of gratuitous profanity but sometimes cursing is employed as an emphatic rhetorical device, as a component of individual self-expression, and sometimes people curse when provoked to anger by injustice or stupidity. It’s your blog, ban me from it if you will but I’ll not have my self-expression censored. Especially not by someone willing to lie about what the self-expression of others amounts to (utterance of expletives vs. spamming).

  30. #30 Jeff
    January 6, 2011

    The commenter I referred to crossed a line that used profanity, in my view, to express anger. Such language is not welcome on this blog. I welcome any and all opinions, with the provision that they be expressed in a civil manner. I have appreciated your comments very much.

  31. #31 Dale Husband
    January 6, 2011

    Rob, where do you get your ridiculous ideas about socialism, freedom, Christian theology, and evil? FOX News?

    In Genesis, Adam was instructed to tend the garden and take care of it. Eve was to be the nurturer. Yes God instructed man to take care of HIS creation, but what Al Gore and minions like him are doing is not the same. They are proposing radical marxist totalitarian style rule in the name of the environment. It’s more about socialism and redistribution of money than about the earth. That’s why churces reject it. Socilaism contradicts and is the direct enemy of God’s word. We as INDIVIDUALS, not collectives, can take care of our own piece of the earth and do our part in conservation but this global warming scam has gotten out of control.

    It’s not often I see so many lies and absurdities crammed into one paragraph. Jesus preached what you would have called socialism had he lived among us today, you right-wing extremist. “Free market” capitalism is the real scam and has been for centuries. Without a socialist counterbalance to it, the capitalist economic system will crush most of us, leaving only the ultra-wealthy elite in power forever.

    Your pervese championing of individualism (actually, selfishness, which is condemned in every major religion, including Christianity) speaks for itself. Humanity IS a collective social species as well as individuals. Your failure to acknowledge that obvious fact puts you outside rational discussion.

    Jesus himself did NOT beleive in personal freedom because, in addition to saying “Render unto Caesar what is Caeser’s, and unto God what is God’s” (note he said nothing about rending unto yourself what is for yourself) his parables are loaded with references to kings as figures to be obeyed and feared. Therefore, all your diatribes are completely lacking in facts or consistent logic. In short, you are a complete idiot!

  32. #32 Jeff
    January 6, 2011

    Dear reader – You can express your opinion, but please no personal attacks towards fellow readers. Thank you.

  33. #33 Rob
    January 6, 2011

    Socialism is evil. it restricts freedom and liberty AND only promotes tyranny. Never once did jesus ask His disciples to force people by government guns to seize their wealth and give it to someone else. he told those who already ahd the wealth to give it to the poor. He gave them that choice. It was their individual personal responsibility to take follow the commands of God.

    On paper, your little marxist utopia may look okay, but add in sin and the human factor and you get mass murder and tyranny. Marxist never works for long. it always ends up in mass murder of some kind.

    Greedy people exist. Deal with it. It is not your place to take their money. It is not your place to say what they have or don;t have. You do not have that authority. Only God has. let Him deal with it. Without capitalism, America would just be like any other communist dictatorship. Instead we are the most free most blessed, and richest nation in the world. Can you say that about Cuba? Russia? China? I doubt it. China has lots of money inside the government, but the people are largely poor.

    There are poor people in America and most of those “poor”peope still have more stuff than the real poor in other countries. Even some of the poverty stricken have cell phones and a television. Looks like they put their prorities in the wrong order to me.

    Without capitalism, America would have died a long time ago. Wilson,Rooselvelt, and a few others took us down the dark path to slavery when they created the welfare state.

    I’ve seen the wlefare lines. I would be willing to bet good money that 90% of those recieving government benefits has a cell phone, internet, cable, etc. All of the extras that have nothing to do with surviving. If they can afford those things, they can surely afford food. Their priorities are wrong. You put food/water, shelter/clothing first. Then when you have something left you can go for the extras. That’s how life works.