Providing the Energy and Other Resources Upon Which All Economies Depend

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The fifth question from the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship survey asks the following:

“How do we provide the energy and other resources upon which all economies depend in a manner that is inexpensive, reliable, safe and efficient, including in the developing world?”

You may balk, but I say a good start to answering this would be recognizing the theological claims at the center of the push to abolish fossil fuels and combat climate change.

In much of the sometimes subtle messaging, other times not-so-subtle protesting, first and foremost, the objections to the extraction, transportation, refinement, and use of oil, natural gas, and coal represents an epistemological and theological problem. Christians need to tackle this challenge in the interest of providing a clear testimony to the goodness of God, as well as the inherent goodness of fulfilling the Dominion Mandate, and obeying the first positive command given to our ancestors.

God never rescinded “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.”

The movement to combat climate change by overhauling all our economic, social, and political institutions, meanwhile, is often compared to a cult. And I think many of us who admit the resemblance nevertheless believe this to be an exaggerated notion, which goes too far, stretching to find an excuse for rallying the faithful to a defense of our material interests and comforts.

Accidental religious fervor here is a myth, though. And apart from the grace of God in Christ Jesus, how would this not be the expression of a spiritual condition upstream of an economic problem?

You might say this gives too much credit to the intentionality and purposefulness of activists and passive participants in this campaign. However, I will say that man was made to worship, and consistently goes looking for other gods to worship and serve when he does not worship the Most High in spirit and in truth. Thus, we should be more surprised if there were no religious component animating climate change activists than if we were to find one.

The earth is not our mother, for instance. And we do not need to waste time pondering whether we are making her angry. God is our Father, and we are commanded to only fear Him, who has the power to both kill the body and cast the soul into Hell.

And just where does the oil and gas and coal come from if not from nature, and by extension nature’s God? Yet the climate change activists carry on as though these energy-rich resources are a co-eternal evil which came from some other dimension.

What is upstream of that insinuated sentiment is an anti-human bias, which sees man himself as unnatural. And in a certain sense it is true that man is apart from nature, since God created man in His image, male and female He created them. But it is not true in the way climate change activists talk about man as unnatural, that man is somehow a form of life which has no business reproducing and inhabiting the whole of the planet.

On the other hand, it is true that man has broken the rest of creation. By the sins of our ancestors, and our own sins as well, we have subjected this world to death and dying it would not have suffered had Adam and Eve left the forbidden fruit alone.

The forbidden fruit was not the extraction of oil, gas, and coal, however. Nor was the original sin the use of internal combustion engines, or coal-fired power plants.

As a matter of fact, the material object of the original sin was all-natural, and entirely organic, with no genetic modification, or harmful pesticides and herbicides, nor any other harsh chemicals. Yet God had told Adam and Eve to not eat that fruit, and they ate it anyway.

Did God ever give a similar prohibition on the use of fossil fuels? And why would He have put them in the ground all over this globe if He did not intend for us to draw them out and burn them to heat and light our homes, or power our vehicles?

Trusting yourself to the claims of climate change activists, and imitating how they carry on, you would come to the opposite conclusion in all these things I’m telling you. Yet I am not telling you these things to be a contrarian to environmentalists, or protect my interests alone. Rather, it is for your sake, and all our sakes, that I give this caution, because the carrying capacity of planet Earth today depends on the continued extraction, transport, refining, and use of fossil fuels.

To be clear, a commitment to this course for Christians need not dismiss legitimate concerns about health and safety, or environmental impact. Good stewardship and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves requires that we consider people who may be harmed by our economic activity. If we conduct our business in a way that is careless and negligent, and someone is made ill or dies as a result, we have sinned, and been disobedient to the God in whose image our neighbor is also made, just as we are.

Yet the prescription for responsible stewardship is not what radical environmentalists are offering. Instead, they openly seek a drastic reduction of global population, refusing to recognize both the distinction between Creator and creature, and the distinction between man made in God’s image and the rest of what God made for man to employ and enjoy in obedience and service to his Maker.

A better way would be for Christians to consider passages like Exodus 31:1-6, where we read about the men singled out by name for the construction of the tabernacle, furnishings, utensils, and priestly garments.

“Yahweh said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft. And behold, I have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. And I have given to all able men ability, that they may make all that I have commanded you…”

From this passage, as well as others like it, we should glean a principle, and a better knowledge of God and His ways.

Ability, intelligence, knowledge, and craftsmanship are all inherently good gifts from God which we ought to ask for, recognize, cultivate, and employ to tackle the problems and risks inherent to the management of our natural resources, to the end of honoring God and promoting human flourishing.

Otherwise, we are liable to find ourselves in the shoes of the wicked servant in the parable of the talents, rebuked by his master for having left his talents buried in a field rather than investing them as the master had instructed.

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