Re: Response to Randy

From: Rich Blinne <>
Date: Wed Feb 08 2006 - 13:06:44 EST

On 2/7/06, Carol or John Burgeson <> wrote:

> Randy Isaac wrote, in part: "Maybe you and I were too conscientious,
> Burgy. Haven't you noticed how the stock price has made no progress
> since you and I left the company??"
> Yeah. Did we make a difference? Sometimes I wonder. <G>
> Randy also wrote: "I think we need to make a clear distinction between
> corporate employees speaking on behalf of the company and a government
> funded agency that is
> missioned to publish accurate and objective data on which policy will be
> based. Yes, it might be an ethics issue, but not one in which the
> employees
> are required to say only that which is approved by the administration.
> Rather, one in which the employees have an ethical obligation to show the
> implications of the data, whether or not it meets anyone's pet policies."
> This is, as you imply, a tough call. One needs to be able to make clear
> that he is speaking only for himself and not for his employer. That is
> sometimes hard to do.

In this case, according to NASA his scientific output was not censored just
when he ventured into advocating policy. The NY Times reported:

 Dean Acosta, deputy assistant administrator for public affairs at the space
agency, said there was no effort to silence Dr. Hansen. ''That's not the way
we operate here at NASA,'' Mr. Acosta said. ''We promote openness and we
speak with the facts.''

He said the restrictions on Dr. Hansen applied to all National Aeronautics
and Space Administration personnel. He added that government scientists were
free to discuss scientific findings, but that policy statements should be
left to policy makers and appointed spokesmen.

That sounds reasonable but the appointed spokesman for NASA, George
Deutsch, was totally unqualified. The New York Times reported today that he
resigned/was sacked. See

> I had written:
> > 4. A United States senator has warned against "far-left"
> > environmentalists he claimed are trying to dupe the National
> Association
> > of Evangelicals into adopting a policy statement on global warming.
> >
> > Burgy's comment: Seems to me that the NAE has little business adopting
> > policies that are clearly outside their areas of expertise. I holler at
> > my PC(USA) headquarters on similar grounds from time to time. Ethical
> > issues are in a different category, of course. Religious organizations
> > SHOULD have a voice in them.
> >
> Randy commented: "Are you saying there are no ethical issues connected
> with
> policies regarding global warming and therefore religious organizations
> have
> no business commenting? And no biblical perspective on stewardship of
> our
> planet?"
> No, but I am saying that the NAE, in this instance, does not have the
> necessary expertise to take a position. For them to comment on the issue
> with the proviso that it is yet not fairly shown, is an ethical issue and
> OK. IMHO of course.
> Thus: Global Warming is now well established (I think) as factual. What
> the chief contribution to Global Warming is (natural cycles vs
> human-made) is still at issue (I think). Finally, what can be done about
> it is very much in contention. The NAE should have its comments on the
> last part; not on the first two.
> Burgy

There's a late-breaking development here.

Eighty six evangelical leaders signed a counter statement backing an
initiative to combat global warming stating "millions of people could die in
this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global
neighbors." The statement seeks to go for the middle by advocating
"cost-effective, market-based mechanisms".

There are now two statements. The old 22-signatory statement that says there
is no consensus and the new 86-signatory statement stating we should fight
global warming. Below I will be referring to these as the old statement and
the new statement. The new statement does not claim to speak for the NAE.

Now time for a cast of characters.

Rick Warren: Supporter of the new statement.

Duane Litfin, President of Wheaton College: Supporter of the new statement.

Jim Ball, head of Evangelical Environment Network: Supporter of the new

Ted Haggard, Head of the NAE: Did not sign the new statement but supported
others signing. His reasoning which closely follows Burgy's and Randy's
discussion is:

On Tuesday, Mr. Haggard, the pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs,
said in a telephone interview that he did not sign because it would be
interpreted as an endorsement by the entire National Association of
Evangelicals. But he said that speaking just for himself, "There is no doubt
about it in my mind that climate change is happening, and there is no doubt
about it that it would be wise for us to stop doing the foolish things we're
doing that could potentially be causing this. In my mind there is no
downside to being cautious."

Richard Cizik, Washington lobbyist for the NAE: Same position as Ted

Charles Colson, Jim Dobson, and Richard Land: Supporters of the old

Finally, E. Calvin Beisner, Knox Theological Seminary Professor: Author of
the old statement. I'm breaking him out specially because his views and
associations are illustrative of the challenge we have.

E. Calvin Beisner, associate professor of historical theology at Knox
Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., helped organize the
opposition into a group called the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance. He said
Tuesday that "the science is not settled" on whether global warming was
actually a problem or even that human beings were causing it. And he said
that the solutions advocated by global warming opponents would only cause
the cost of energy to rise, with the burden falling most heavily on the

Knox Seminary is closely associated with Dr. D. James Kennedy who is major
advocate of YEC. Kennedy used Behe's Darwin Black Box in the pulpit when he
railed against evolution. You can see how opposition to evolution has
spilled over into a general anti-science attitude.

There is also a sectarian twist here. Within the reformed portion of the
evangelical world, there is a tendency towards what is known as theonomy
(not theocracy as is often accused). Ron Sider is closely associated with
evangelical environmentalism. This is met with extreme skepticism by some in
the Reformed community. Case in point the point/counterpoint between Sider's
Rich Christians in the Age of Hunger and theonomist David Chilton's
Productive Christians in the Age of Guilt Manipulators. Thus, amongst some
conservative Reformed thinkers such as Professor Beisner you have two levels
of skepticism about science, one concerning so-called Darwinism and the
other concerning the Religious Left as represented by Ron Sider and Jim
Willis. The new element in the mix is what I call the Religious Middle
represented by Warren, Cizik, and Haggard.

There is a fight for the heart and soul of the evangelical church right now.
Maybe I'm just a pollyanna but I disagee with you Burgy that YEC and a
generic anti-science sentiment is "winning" amongst evangelicals. While the
old statement is correct in that there is not currently a consensus amongst
evangelicals concerning these issues, the trend as evidenced by both stories
in this morning's NYT is that we are moving in the right direction (IMHO).
Received on Wed Feb 8 13:06:52 2006

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Feb 08 2006 - 13:06:52 EST