Evangelicals and Climate Change

I have been exploring the sordid relationship between evangelicals and climate change during my PhD program at Duquesne University and have had the chance to publish a few pieces on this topic.  I wanted to make those available to people if they had an interest in checking out my work. I wrote a paper for the Duquesne University Graduate Student Research Symposium in 2015.  It focused on the positive efforts evangelicals have made to take seriously the threat of climate change and was entitled “Evangelicals at the Climate Change Crossroads.” It is located on pg. 77 of the following published proceedings:  Graduate Student Research Symposium Proceedings

Crossroads

Additionally, I have published on some of the factors contributing to evangelical’s skepticism regarding climate change.  That material may be found in a book by Cambridge Scholar’s Press called The Urgency of Climate Change: Pivotal Perspectives.,  eds Gerard Magill and Kiaresh Aramesh.  My work may be found under the religion section of the book in Ch. 19.  The title of my chapter is “Climate Change Denial: Evangelical Skepticism and Disbelief.”  The Urgency of Climate Change

urgency of climate change

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Published in: on October 16, 2017 at 8:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

John Walton on Genesis through Ancient Eyes

I really appreciate John Walton’s work on the thought forms of the ancient near east and how this impacts our reading of Genesis.  He helpfully gets to the root of what we need to understand when looking at the text of Genesis.  Check it out.

Absinthe and the Apostle Paul

 

In one of Paul’s letters we have the curious advice offered to Timothy that he should take a little wine for his stomach to help him heal because of his frequent illness (1 Tim. 5:23).  It would seem odd that such a recommendation is offered by the apostle Paul of all people.

However, I came across an interesting parallel employing the same idea with a surprising substance, Absinthe.  Apparently, the French Army distributed Absinthe to its soldiers to put in their canteen water to prevent them from getting sick or developing malaria or dysentery from the substandard water supplies they had to make use of in the campaign of the African battalions into Algeria.  This is in fact what popularized the drink in France.

Water supplies in biblical times often times were sub-par and carried similar problematic microorganisms which meant much of the water was diluted with wine to kill those same said bacterial bad guys.  Fast forward to today with hiking kits, one can use a type of iodine in water to accomplish a similar task.  This points out the practice is one which has been practiced for millenia and the Bible no less mentions an example as an aside in the occasional writing of Paul to his faithful disciple Timothy.

The Language of Science and Faith

If I could recommend on book on the subject of contemporary understandings of science and how those gel with Christian understandings of the universe it would be The Language of Science and Faith by Karl Giberson and Francis Collins. http://www.amazon.com/The-Language-Science-Faith-Questions/dp/0830838295/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347137258&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Language+of+Science+and+Faith

It is straight forward, easy to understand and does a great job of covering the span of scientific understandings that have  led up to this point in our understanding of how the universe works.   The book addresses a number of concerns evangelicals have when thinking about this topic and the last chapter alone which gives a flowing  narrative of the creation of the universe is worth the price of the book.  I had been trying to cobble something together like this on my own and I am glad to say this work has done the job for me and confirmed many of my own conclusions on the subject.  I hope others can find it helpful also.

Science and the Bible: Theistic Evolution, Part 1 | BioLogos

Science and the Bible: Theistic Evol Part 1 | BiLogos. This is a helpful article delineating some key ideas of theistic evolution as it relates to science and the bible.

A Christian’s Stroll Through the Portable Atheist

Call it the anti-Bible.  A consolation of writings for the faithless,  the infidel, the unconvinced.  I picked up the book because the topic is interesting.  I also thought it could be helpful in understanding why some people find faith incredulous or just don’t have an interest in spirituality.  With major names ranging from the new atheists to some of the old, the book offers a who’s who of disbelief and logical discourse.  I thought it could be interesting to share my initial reactions as I worked through the book, giving my own impressions of the work and offering some comments relating to elements that I find most persuasive/useful, even if one maintains a faith oriented perspective.  So begins the journey, like Don Quixote and the windmills.  If anything else, it hopefully should be interesting.

My initial impression of Christopher Hitchens is that he is an engaging writer.  His metaphors and allusions are quite colorful and his rankor is rich with  journalistic wit.  I immediately am somewhat perplexed though with the main contention of Hitchen’s rub.  He rails on and on about how illogical the Christian faith is, all the while using innumerable allusions, references and parallels to Christian ideas, events and theological descriptions.  This is what I find so interesting.  If Christianity were as illogical as he claims, such journalistic wit would be wasted, as it would run aground on countless logical dead ends.  What I find to be the opposite, is that Hitchens is able to be so engaging and artful BECAUSE OF the fact Christianity is logical and consistent.  Someone is overstating the case here, with intricate logical discourse nonetheless.  Hitchens may weave a masterful narrative of disbelief but it hinges on the solidity of the logic of Christian discourse.  To suggest otherwise seems to render Hitchens style impotent.  With every artful pary of the journalistic sword, I become less convinced of its powerful thrust.  Time will tell if the rest of the book offers more than this but that is my first impression with the introduction at least.

Learning to Walk Again

The Foo Fighters have a new album with a song titled “Walk.” It captures where I’m at right now. The line that strikes me is “learning to walk again, I believe I’ve waited long enough, where do I begin?” My year and half in California at Fuller was in many ways a respite, in spite of the fact it has been one of the busiest times in my life.  I have learned a lot about myself more than anything.  I learned that I need to manage myself and discerned key aspects of my personality where I can allow stress to affect me in negative ways. Also, the question of intimacy with God is rolling in again like slow, small waves.  I am slowly trying to wade back into the water and find my footing.  I have found myself seeking for more thoughtful engagement than I had in the past.  Some of the more uncritical approaches I developed are now giving way to deeper forms of connecting with God.  It is going beyond behavior and certain practices to the real heart of the matter.  I do long for that centering feeling when you know you are in the place where you and God are vibing again.  I think God has led us on this journey for many reasons, some connected with issues in my family, but others related to our own trust issues with God.  I feel like God is putting us in a place of radical trust where we will know for sure when he is doing something tangible and lately it has been apparent. The numerous people who helped us with moving is one example of how we experienced love from Christian friends and neighbors.  One of my biggest hangups has been expectations and being on the receiving end of actions or behavior from Christians who weren’t quite acting Christ like.  It really damaged my faith in some ways and caused me to question the efficacy of God in this world at times.  One of the worst contributors to that experience unfortunately was fundraising.  

We had some amazing experiences during our time fundraising, connecting with people who shared our vision for ministry and telling them about what we were doing.  We also encountered some difficult situations.  It was more than a number of occasions that people specifically told us they wanted to give to us only to later provide some lame excuse as to why they had a change of heart.   For someone whose living came from these commitments, the failure of a number of people to follow through with them was heart wrenching.
It wasn’t about the money so much as the keeping of one’s word. I know this shouldn’t have affected us but it did.  I felt like “where is the integrity here?”  Fundraising is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life and people were just flippant about it.  This is only one example of a number of encounters that challenged my faith in many ways. What also hurt was the alienation and exclusion we felt as we exited our church family in Denver. It was very painful and caused a lot of sadness in our family. In one sense we felt excommunicated. Its tough to leave years worth of community all at once. Especially with a new baby on the way. I couldn’t help feeling rejected by friends who we had spent a lot of time with. It has only been in the past year or so I would say that we have experienced more loving Christian actions towards us in meaningful ways. The truth is I felt hurt by God. I felt like ” these are your people and you just let them treat us this way.” I sought reconciliation with the pastor and feel good that we came to a mutual resolution towards the whole thing. We both felt regrets and sought forgiveness from each other. I harbor no ill will today and wish him the best. I just can’t help some of the feelings that linger as a result of the whole experience. Especially in relation to folks from that community. Its like a freshly healed sore, getting better, but still a bit sensitive. I want to move on and California has been a big part of that transition. Now that we’re moving again I feel cautiously optimistic about the next step. I’m calling this year “the year of Steve.” Somewhat like George from Seinfeld but focused on my own health and well being. If there is one thing I have learned from a wholist view of the person, it is how negatively my substance dualism affected my own view of my body. I definitely want to get away from the more gnostic way I viewed the physical and let God inform and challenge my life in those areas to grow and develop them in more healthy ways. So here’s to ” the year of Steve!” 🙂 and may God challenge me to continue to draw closer to him.

Big History and the Story of Creation

Map of the timeline of the universe

http://www.metanexus.net/essay/exploring-big-history

This is an article talking about the timeline of the universe.  I think it fits quite nicely with our understanding of creation.  It is interesting that science is now pushing for a narrative to talk about our universe.  Such an inclination fits well with the Abrahamic faiths,  which have always viewed creation as part of the larger narrative of God’s creative work and subsequently humankind’s vocation as caretakers of God’s creation.  It will be interesting to see what gets added when the Higgs Boson particle is finally revealed.  It’s the last link in the unified theory of the universe.

The Theory of Evolution in Two Minutes

I thought this was a quick and dirty explanation for evolutionary theory that gets at the core elements taken into consideration regarding the overarching theory.  In science, a “theory” is made up of already existing facts and laws, which are combined to articulate a larger explanatory narrative i.e. a theory.  So when people say something is “just a theory” what they don’t realize is that in science, the facts and laws drawn upon to make such a claim are not in question.  The larger explanation utilizing said data is what is up for discussion.  The laws and facts drawn upon have already been shown to stand up to rigorous empirical testing and verification.   If we can clear up the use of this terminology, it can get us further down the road in discussing these kinds of questions.  Hope it helps.