Global warming and the God factor

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Bible says nothing about ozone depletion, ocean acidification causing possible extinction of certain forms of sea life or melting polar ice caps. You don't expect the Bible to say anything about those things. It's not that kind of a book. Putting the Scriptures, then, into a syllabus for a seminar on global warming is probably not the best idea.

The central question seems to be whether the lifestyles of human beings are responsible for increases in global temperatures. I honestly don't know. If humans have culpability, then steps can and should be taken. I'm just not sold on the notion yet. My ambiguity is not shared by most of my family and friends. Someone once said that facts are stubborn things. What we've heard about the cause of global temperature increases is a theory; it may turn out to be true, but a theory, by definition, is not fact.

When it comes to public policy, we've got to be careful when we make decisions based entirely on theory. One thing I've heard recently makes sense to me. A presidential candidate, who will not be named, put it well. To wit: "If we take self-limiting steps now and global warming turns out not to be man-made, then at least we've left a cleaner planet for our children and grandchildren." In that statement, I hear concern for God's created order balanced by caution.

It is possible to discuss the goodness of God in creation, planet conservation and protecting the environment without venturing into global warming, which has become a political minefield.

This discussion takes the form of celebration for the next three Sunday afternoons in Cape Girardeau. Starting Sunday and continuing for the following two Sundays (May 11 and 18), the Downtown Council of Churches is sponsoring "Blue Sky Church" at the Capaha Park band shell in Cape Girardeau. There will be music, storytellers and refreshment at all three events.

Sunday's theme is "The Earth is the Lord's," based on the stirring opening verses of Psalm 24.

On May 11, the theme is "All Creatures Great and Small," based on Genesis 1:31. This event will feature the blessing of animals. Organizers invite you to bring your pet for this special time.

On May 18, the focus will be on the fruits of the earth and for those who grow them. Stone soup will be made and all are invited to bring cut and cleaned vegetables to put into the pot.

All of these events start at 5 p.m. and you are cordially invited to any and all of them.

Being good stewards of the earth God has given to us to enjoy is a solidly biblical concept. In an election year filled with political divisiveness, we can all come together on these Sundays in May to affirm the words of the opening chapter of Genesis:

"God blessed [humankind] and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'"(Genesis 1:28)

Just so. Hope to see you for "Blue Sky Church."

Jeff Long is pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau. Married with two daughters, he is of Scots and Swedish descent, loves movies and is a lifelong fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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