Reading theology into facts: Christian perspective on Earth’s climate change

Reading theology into facts: Christian perspective on Earths climate change

Jessica Parsons

I don’t know about you, but I am kind of tired of hearing, reading and talking about climate change. I don’t deny the importance of the topic, and yes, here I am writing about it again. But I think I found the reason why a disconnect on the topic exists, and why these two words seem to be turning more and more people off. That diconnect? Climate change can mean something different to the evangelical Christian.

The term “climate change” didn’t become so divisive until skeptics came about questioning what is really happening and the cause of it.

We have let the word “believe” decide our thoughts on this subject, but one does not “believe” or “not believe” in climate change because if there are statistics that show a “change” in the “climate” then surely “believe” is not the right word. That’s like you saying, “There was an earthquake here yesterday,” and me responding with, “Well, I don’t believe you.”

Let’s say that records show there was, in fact, an earthquake just like you said, and we know that to be true from public information found by scientists. Now, it would be safe to say, whether I’ve done my research or experienced the earthquake or not, that of course I “believe” it happened, but if I were unsure about something coinciding with it, I may question what really happened, or its cause. I would just hope that if that were me, you’d care to hear me out and not rush to call me ignorant.

I personally believe that the Earth’s climate has been changing since God created this world. The reason we’re just now realizing it, though, is because it’s getting worse. From a Christian stand point, the one often ignored and deemed as the ignorant perspective, I’m here to explain why, which I hope will provide you with some information as to why there are skeptics in the first place. 

The Pew Research Center did a study that found over a third of evangelical Christians say there is “no solid evidence” that climate change is happening, which sounds silly on the surface, right? I mean, we don’t have to look very far to see more natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires devastatingly increasing. But the disconnect here is getting down to what climate change actually means. I’d argue the term “climate change” has a different meaning to different people, otherwise, how can someone be presented with a fact and deny it? Sure, there is pure ignorance, but that’s another divisive term that’s been thrown around like Tic Tacs and often falls back on the name-caller themselves.

To some, climate change is not separate from the idea of human interaction and how our species is at fault. It sounds like that might make sense, considering all the unnatural crap we’ve been putting in the air and on the ground for hundreds of years. But even many credible scientists disagree as to how much of the recent change in climate may be directly, or even partially, attributed to things like carbon dioxide. 

Statistics commonly used to “prove” the planet is rapidly warming are often cherry picked to include only the data points and timeliness to make that narrative more believable.

Few people take the time to dig deeper beyond the headlines and look for themselves at the data on long-term charts to discover significant warming trends have occurred many times before and long before the industrial revolution.

Despite the common “belief,” there is plenty of credible science out there to make a scientific mind question the modern headlines on both the severity of the current climate change and its cause.

But apart from that, consider the Christian perspective that also aligns with entropy in Information Theory: a world created from order will therefore lead to disorder over time. Actually, aside from Earth deteriorating with time, many Christians believe the hardships we face from the planet stems from the consequence from the fall of man, a story found in Genesis. 

Additionally, most Christians believe that there is an end to this world, an eschatological story that is found in several books throughout the Bible. One, specifically, is Revelation.

Why would the Christian believe two different things? The presupposition from their worldview is that God is in control of this planet and planned a way for it to end (and as I’ll mention later, the changing climate does not contradict this, but supports it.) Why would they believe another scenario that says the use of fossil fuels from humans will eventually lead to a mass extinction? 

So how does the idea of the climate changing support Christian eschatology? When events concerning the end times are prophesied, whether it be in a vision or dream received from a historical character, the books of the Bible warn us about the climate specifically. Examples include great earthquakes, tsunamis and even famines. We’ve always had these things, too. But we’re talking about them now in this sense because of their increasing role many Christians believe points to the second coming of their savior, Jesus.

In other words, an increase in natural disasters—dare I say “climate change” for the thousandth time—are seen by Christians as a sign that the end is near. 

I found an article titled, “Extreme Weather? Blame the End Times,” that explains the topic-at-hand well. It reads, “Those who say that climate change is both an anthropogenically-caused phenomenon and a sign of the end of the world are not ignorant; they are reading theology into facts, and that is indeed a matter of belief. But those who say that humans aren’t causing climate change at all-that is not disbelief, but ignorance.” 

The climate change movement is often associated with those who identify with the Democratic Party. The reason why is because studies show that a higher percentage of democrats believe in anthropogenic climate change whereas that percentage is lower with republicans. The lower percentage with republicans could be in correlation with a higher percentage of evangelical Christians identifying with the Republican Party.  

So if you happen to run into skeptics or climate change protestors, ask them what they think “climate change” really means as it may not be the changing climate they are denying, but the reason as to why. 

Regardless of what your perspective is on why the climate is changing, it isn’t acceptable to care less or not do your part in helping “save” the planet. It is, however, unacceptable to conclude that climate change stops at the mainstream headlines, because for some, there is more to this unfortunately-inevitable reality.