Re: Jerry Falwell -- global warming is "junk science"

From: Peter Cook <>
Date: Wed Feb 15 2006 - 22:11:30 EST

It seems to me that on issues such as this (CO2 and warming) we have some
serious problems. That there presently is warming appears to be pretty
clear. Its origins are not. To a lay person (ie, not a scientific
specialist), there are "experts" saying it is clear what the contribution of
CO2 is. But you can find groups of experts who say the contribution is
large, and others who say it is small. And these groups of experts are
quoted by those with particular agendas for whatever reason. The untrained
public is left in between two sets of experts, trying to make sense out of
conflicting claims. While I do not like arguments from authority, that is
what the general public is left with - but with conflicting groups of
authorities. I see no way, in such a situation, to come up with a rational
decision on what to do. If the cost of reducing CO2 emissions was small, one
could adopt a decision based on prudence, and do the work to reduce
emissions. But of the cost is high (monetary, social, whatever) then one has
to try to judge the outcome of reducing or not reducing the emissions, and
now we confront the conflicting authorities all over again.

We could, of course, opt for rule by the technologically and scientifically
elite, who understand these things clearly, but somehow, I don't think that
will fly well either, not, for that matter, do I have much faith that in
general those trained in things technological or scientific would do much
better at ruling that the present system. And who would decide who those
elite are?

Pete Cook
----- Original Message -----
From: "George Murphy" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2006 6:01 PM
Subject: Re: Jerry Falwell -- global warming is "junk science"

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Tjalle T Vandergraaf" <>
> To: "'George Murphy'" <>; <>; "'Carol or
> Burgeson'" <>
> Sent: Tuesday, February 14, 2006 5:32 PM
> Subject: RE: Jerry Falwell -- global warming is "junk science"
> >I wonder, if denominations would speak on _theological_ issues, they
> > even have the time or the resources to deal with environmental issues.
> You're missing the point: The environment _is_ a theological issue. Of
> course I don't mean that it's _only_ a theological issue - people quite
> appropriately study it from the standpoints of science, economics,
> &c. But the Bible & the Christian tradition have a good deal to say about
> the natural world as God's creation, about God's relationship with the
> world, & the role that God intends for humans to have in the world - i.e.,
> theology. & there has been for at least 25 years now a recognized area of
> environmental theology
> >What
> > I think usually happens is that a denomination will hop on the next
> > available bandwagon, with mainline denominations favouring liberal
> > bandwagons and more conservative denominations looking for conservative
> > ones.
> True - which is one reason among many for ecumenical dialogue.
> > Another problem I see with denominations getting involved in
> > "non-theological issues" is that they tend not to understand the
> > robustness
> > of a theory or lack thereof (I cannot think, offhand, of a better way to
> > put
> > this).
> I can speak to this from my own experience as a member of the task force
> that developed the ELCA environmental statement "Caring for Creation."
> task force included not just "pure" theologians & biblical scholars but
> scientists in several areas & people familiar with various aspects of
> environmental concern.
> & I think most responsible church bodies proceed in a similar way.
> > Increased CO2 emissions and global warming is one example. Common
> > wisdom has it that there is a link but my guess is that atmospheric
> > scientists will acknowledge that there is still some uncertainty and
> > other factors may play a role. For a denomination to take the link
> > between
> > CO2 emission and global warming as "gospel truth," it may not recognize
> > this
> > uncertainty or know to convey it.
> As I said below, when a church makes recommendations about a particular
> issue it out to be in the form ""If X is true - as
> scientific evidence presently indicates - then we should do Y & not Z."
> > The impact of a proposed change is often ignored as well. It's easy for
> > denomination to advocate a change in lifestyle without considering how
> > this
> > change will impact on society. I will cite the opposition by some
> > denominations to nuclear power as an example. If some denominations had
> > their wish, nuclear power plants would be shut down. However, other
> > some vague hand waving, no alternatives to nuclear power plants are
> > presented other than to "reduce consumption."
> You seem to think that people who develop social statements for churches
> rather naive. Of course there also needs to be a concern for human
> along with that for other creatures - which means that decisions are
> sometimes difficult: "Owls or jobs?" Leviticus 25 links those 2 concerns
> closely. & to return again to the ELCA statement, we were quite aware of
> the justice dimensions of environmental issues - of things like the siting
> of hazardous waste sites &c in minority or economically depressed
> communities, impacts of environmental regulations on jobs &c. The full
> title of the statement is "Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and
> (emphasis added).
> > When a denomination becomes identified with a particular non-theological
> > issue, and it turns out that the premise on which this issue was based
> > wrong, where does that leave the integrity of that denomination and how
> > will
> > its message of the Evangel then be received?
> > My experience with some denominations (and some clergy!) has been that
> > beating the environmental drum or the social drum is easier than to work

> > on
> > theological issues. One thing that annoys me to no end is to go to
> > and, instead of a sermon expounding God's Word, to get a lecture on the
> > environment or on some social issue from a non-expert.
> Again, your assumption that the environment is not a theological issue is
> wrong. But there are different levels of theology. The gospel is more
> fundamental than a theological analysis of specific environmental
> As I've said, it should be made clear that such analysis is contingent
> scientific evidence as well as specifically theological input.
> Shalom
> George
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > <snip>
> >
> > A responsibility for churches that is even more fundamental than
> > about ethical issues connected with the environment is speaking about
> > _theological_ issues: Our ethics should grow out of our theology. &
> > churches should deal with the task of environmmental theology whether or
> > not
> >
> > global warming is actually occurring & whether or not it (if real) is
> > anthropogenic. I.e., our environmental theologies ought not be just
> > superficial responses to the most recent scientific data but should be
> > explications of what the Christian faith implies about the natural world
> > our place in, & responsibilities for, it.
> >
> > But that shouldn't be left at the level of generalities. We also need
> > be
> >
> > able to speak to specific real concerns. & when scientific evidence
> > becomes
> >
> > very strong then churches should be prepared to say
> Shalom
> George
Received on Wed Feb 15 22:11:56 2006

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