Did you know that what you believe about origins will affect how you view climate change?
Up until recent times, we heard certain politicians and others warning about global warming! But one hasn’t heard that term for quite a while now—and with the recent wintery weather in the United States, global warming would not be the way to describe what’s happening. The term we hear now is “climate change.”
Over the last few decades, there has been much debate over the topic of climate change.
Is it real? What or who is causing it? Should we be concerned? There is evidence that climate change is indeed a real phenomenon. There was a period of global warming during the medieval days which dropped into a cooling trend known as the “Little Ice Age.” For the past 400 years, temperatures have been slowly climbing up from that chilly dip. But, while the evidence shows that there has been and still is change in the climate, the evidence does not speak for itself about what this change means. The data must be interpreted. How should Bible-believing Christians interpret this evidence?
We have emphasized many times the vital distinction between observational and historical science in the creation/evolution debate. But this contrast is also foundational to properly understanding the climate change debate. Observational science works in the present. It is observable, testable, and repeatable. But historical science deals with the past and, therefore, is not directly observable, testable, or repeatable. How you interpret the observational science will be based on what you believe about historical science. Do you start with man’s word that the universe has been around for billions of years and that the present is the key to the past? Or do you start with God’s Word that teaches a young universe and an earth that was radically altered by a recent global Flood? Which worldview you start with is going to determine how you view and interpret the observational science.
This is certainly true in the climate change debate. The observational evidence shows that climate change is real. But how we interpret the data about climate change will be influenced by our starting point: man’s word or God’s Word?
Secularists believe that Earth has existed for billions of years and that Earth’s temperature has been stable for over 10,000 years, since the end of the last supposed glacial period. Since the observational science shows that Earth’s climate is now changing, these secularists assume that human activity must be the cause of this change. If this is true, then a changing climate is understandably a concern for them. But this model is built on unprovable assumptions about Earth’s history. The methods such as tree ring and ice core dating that are used to give these stable temperature readings are also fraught with unprovable assumptions. These assumptions reject the eye-witness account of Earth’s history that God has given us in His Word.
If we start with God’s Word, we get a very different picture of Earth’s history. According to the Bible’s history, the earth is not billions of years old but only about 6,000 years old. Originally, there was a perfect creation (Genesis 1:31), which would have included a perfect climate. However, this climate was radically changed when the surface of Earth was destroyed, reshaped, and rearranged by the global Flood of Noah’s day around 4,300 years ago. As the earth was settling from the Flood, there was a transitional climate which included an Ice Age that covered 30% of the earth’s surface in ice. This transitional climate slowly gave way to the present climate as the earth evened out from the aftereffects of the Flood. Therefore, starting with a biblical model for Earth’s history, we should expect variations in climate and temperature.
So should we be alarmed about climate change?
So should we be alarmed about climate change? Not at all. Yes, climate change is real, but according to the true history book of the universe, we should expect it as a consequence of the cataclysmic Flood. Also, Earth—and Earth’s climate—was designed by the all-knowing, all-wise Creator God. He built an incredible amount of variety into the DNA of His creatures so that they could survive and thrive as Earth’s environments change. Surely the God who equipped life to survive on a changing Earth also designed Earth with the necessary features to deal with environmental changes. After the Flood, God even promised Noah that the climate would remain within acceptable ranges:
While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)
Starting with God’s Word, variations in the climate should not alarm us. If you start with man’s assumptions about the past, man must be directly responsible for recent changes in climate. But starting with the Bible’s history, it’s obvious that man’s recent activity is not directly responsible for global climate change issues. However, man and his wickedness were responsible for bringing God’s judgment of the Flood that radically changed the climate. So, in a sense, people who lived over 3,000 years ago are at least in part responsible for climate change! But we shouldn’t be overly concerned about climate change, because it has been happening since the time of the Flood.
The observational evidence for variations in temperature is real.
While we have made it clear in other articles and in media interviews that we do not deny climate change, secularists are constantly accusing us of refusing to acknowledge climate change. We do not deny climate change. The observational evidence for variations in temperature is real. What we do deny is the worldview-based assumptions that determine secular scientists’ interpretations and conclusions about the evidence. Just like in the creation/evolution and age of the earth debates, your starting point determines your interpretation of the evidence. If you start from the perspective that Earth is billions of years old and that Earth’s temperature has been stable for over 10,000 years, you will reach an entirely different conclusion than if you start with a belief in a young Earth radically reshaped by a global Flood.
Mankind was given dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28), but proper stewardship of what God has given us means that we need to take care of the earth. But we should never regard caring for the earth over caring for the people that inhabit the earth. Mankind—not the earth—is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and is therefore precious. God cares about nature but cares far more about people (Matthew 12:6–7). Many of the measures that climate change alarmists propose, such as drastic changes in energy uses, will have far-reaching effects on the less fortunate. It is therefore vital that we examine the worldview-based assumptions behind the interpretation of climate change before we make decisions about human behavior.
As Christians, we need to start with God’s Word, not man’s word, when it comes to Earth’s history. God was there in the beginning and since He does not lie (Titus 1:2), we know that the record that He was given us in His Word is the true account of Earth’s history.
Yes, your starting point for your worldview (God’s Word or man’s word) will affect how you view climate change!
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.