December 6, 2013
Exchanging the Truth of God for a Lie
Environmentalism’s Threat to the Creator/Creature Distinction, and How You Can Stand in the Gap with the Cornwall Alliance
By E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D.
April 25, 2012
[Dr. Beisner presented an abridged version of this talk at the Cornwall Alliance’s First Annual Fellowship Dinner April 20, 2012, in Falls Church, Virginia.]
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” That short sentence is the bedrock of the whole of Biblical faith. Grant it, and all else follows: God’s ownership of all things (“The earth is Jahweh’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it …”—Psalm 24:1–2), and thus His rule and judgment over all things (“Jahweh is our Judge, Jahweh is our Lawgiver, Jahweh is our King”—Isaiah 33:22), and His right to make of anything precisely what He wills (“Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?”—Romans 9:21).
God as Creator, the heavens and the Earth, and everything in them, as His creatures, under His rule and judgment—that is the starting point of Biblical faith and, because life follows from faith, of Biblical life.
Deny that, and all else falls—all else in faith, and all else in life. If God is not Creator of all, then He is not owner of all; He is not Judge, Lawgiver, or King over all; He has no right to make of anything what He wills; and no one, nothing, has any obligation to do as He wills.
That is why the unbelieving world cannot live with the first three chapters of Genesis. It wants autonomy. It wants, as the Serpent tempted Eve in the Garden, to be its own judge, lawgiver, and king.
And so those who are of the world reject the truth of creation in order to reject the Creator. “Claiming to be wise, they [become] fools, and [exchange] the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God [gives] them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they [exchange] the truth about God for a lie and [worship] and [serve] the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God [gives] them up to dishonorable passions” (Romans 1:22–26)—indeed, as the Apostle Paul then enumerates, to “all manner of unrighteousness”: homosexuality, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, hatred of God, insolence, haughtiness, boastfulness, creativity in evil (Could any of our great-grandparents even have imagined some of the evil practices that today are routine elements of American life?!), disobedience to parents, foolishness, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness.
Can anyone deny that this list describes, to a “T,” America today? Think of the tabloids, the television shows, the movies, the music, the world of sports, the Internet, our schools and colleges, our corporations and even many of our churches. Think also of the public sector: the halls of Congress and the state legislatures; the White House and the governors’ mansions; the federal and state courts. Are they not all littered with scandal? Are we not a nation that, though God decrees “that those who practice such things deserve to die … not only [does] them but [gives] approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32)?
How did we get here? The Word of God gives answers: “… although [we] knew God, [we] did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but … became futile in [our] thinking, and [our] foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).
How was it that we—all of us, without exception—“knew God”? Because “what can be known about God is plain to [us], because God has shown it to [us]. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So [we] are without excuse” (Romans 1:19–20).
We knew God since and by the creation of the world. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). We knew Him because we knew ourselves as His image, for “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men … the true light, which enlightens everyone” (John 1:1, 3–4, 9). We knew Him because we knew His law, written in our hearts (Romans 2:14).
This is why the doctrine of creation—and by that I mean the whole doctrine of creation, not just that God started everything but that He ordered and orders, ruled and rules, defined and defines everything—the doctrine of creation is the primary target of the forces of evil in our world. Tonight I want to talk to you about just two aspects of that doctrine—two, central, aspects.
Scripture speaks of the two together in one of its most important verses, Genesis 1:26. After having made the heavens and Earth and light, and after having brought order to them by dividing light from darkness and atmosphere from space and seas from dry land, and after having brought all manner of life into the Earth—marine life and land plants and birds and animals and creeping things, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
That verse sets before us two great themes: the nature of man, and the calling of man. The next two verses unfold those themes, one at a time.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Verse 27 majestically tells us the essence of man: he is a creature, the product of direct, intentional, divine action; he is the image of God; and he is male and female. From these truths flow all truths about man’s relationships with and duties toward God and other men.
Time does not permit my expanding on that tonight, though I wish I could. Instead, I recommend to you the two lectures by Cornwall Alliance Senior Fellow Dr. Peter Jones in our video series Resisting the Green Dragon, and his excellent books One or Two and The God of Sex. Suffice it for now to say that by undermining faith in this verse, Darwinism has robbed society of the order and beauty and, yes, love and offspring that come with recognizing the dignity of man as the imago Dei and of male and female as distinct, fixed, complementary sexes designed for love and fruitfulness.
But I must move quickly on to verse 28: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” This verse reveals God’s mission for man, male and female. We are to multiply and fill the Earth; and, filling it, we are to subdue and rule it—not abuse it, but rule it as God does, enhancing its fruitfulness, safety, and beauty, to the glory of God and the benefit of our fellow men, thus fulfilling both of the Two Great Commandments, to love God and to love our neighbor. Human multiplication, and human rule over the Earth. These are the heart of this verse.
They are also the nemeses of environmentalism. As Darwinism robbed us of human dignity by attacking Genesis 1:27, environmentalism robs us of human dignity by attacking Genesis 1:28.
Those outside the Christian faith attack the verse overtly. Proponents of population control, failing to account for the imago Dei and so viewing people as nothing but consumers and polluters using up resources and poisoning the planet, attack the first part—“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”— claiming that we have overpopulated the Earth and so human multiplication has become a curse, not a blessing. Environmentalists like eco-historian Lynn White Jr., who argued (falsely) in his oft-reprinted 1967 Science magazine article “The Religious Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” that Judaism and Christianity justified ecological abuse by appeal to this verse, attack its second part: “subdue it and have dominion over” it.
But sometimes even those inside the Christian community attack Genesis 1:28, too—not overtly but subtly. They rob it of its true meaning and force by insisting that “subdue and have dominion,” two very forceful acts that God intended man to do toward the whole Earth, be defined by “work” (which some translate wrongly as “serve”) and “keep” in Genesis 2:15, which God intended man to do toward one tiny part of the Earth, the Garden, expanding out from it by multiplication to fill, subdue, and rule the rest of the Earth, reflecting God’s activity in creation by transforming it from less ordered wilderness into more ordered garden. Again, I wish I could go into detail, but I only have time to recommend to you my book Where Garden Meets Wilderness: Evangelical Entry into the Environmental Debate, for development of this thought.
The Christian church stands today with regard to environmentalism where it stood a century ago with regard to Darwinism. At that time, some Christians strove valiantly, some were deceived, some were unaware, and some capitulated. Our response must be better. We must exercise a wise, courageous, powerful, spiritual warfare by which we restore the teaching of Genesis 1:27–28 while tearing down ideological strongholds, taking “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4–5).
The Cornwall Alliance understands Satan’s strategy and stands in the gap.
The threats are many:
And not all the threats come from outside the church. Consider two from within it:
- At the global level,
- the United Nations Environment Program, Fund for Population Activities, Framework Convention on Climate Change, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Agenda 21 patiently and gradually erect global governance on environmental issues, promote global warming and population alarm to frighten people into giving up freedom and prosperity, work to redistribute $100 billion a year from developed to developing nations, and propose imposing a global financial transaction tax that would give the unaccountable global bureaucrats of the UN revenues more than twice those of the United States government. At the same time,
- huge national and global environmental advocacy groups like Greenpeace, World Wildlife Fund, Worldwatch Institute, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and many more—with combined annual budgets of over $10 billion—continue to flood the world with Green propaganda, aided by mainstream media, including the Society of Environmental Journalists, which has expressly disavowed any responsibility to reporting opposing views, and
- radical environmentalists in
- Scientific American call for one-world government to perform “social engineering” to fight global warming,
- In the journal Ethics, Policy, & Environment prescribe genetic engineering of human beings to make us smaller, lower our metabolism, reduce our birth rates, turn us into vegetarians, and give us night vision like cats’, all to lower our carbon footprint to fight global warming,
- in accepting a prestigious science prize say doubting dangerous, manmade global warming is a moral issue on a par with slavery;
- and in an international scientific gathering call for psychiatric “treatment” of people who doubt catastrophic, manmade global warming
—and they’re taken seriously by the mainstream media, the academic establishment, and policy makers!
- At the national level, our federal government
- sinks billions of dollars into grants and loan guarantees to “Green” energy projects that go bankrupt;
- sinks more billions of dollars into climate research that pushes alarm over manmade warming, ignoring research into natural factors that probably far outweigh human ones;
- issues a raft of regulations that will destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs while driving up the cost of electricity, fulfilling candidate Obama’s promise that under his presidency electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket”; and
- blocks oil and gas drilling on federal lands and offshore, and the construction of a pipeline to bring oil from Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf coast, restricting supply and so pushing energy prices skyward.
- At the state and local levels,
- many states adopt “Renewable Portfolio Standards,” requiring public utilities to generate unrealistic percentages of electricity from high-cost, low-reliability “renewable” sources, driving up prices, destroying jobs, and causing brownouts and blackouts that endanger health and safety;
- many states adopt environmental curriculum standards that embrace Green alarmism, especially on climate change, and the National Center for Science Education announces a campaign to ensure that students aren’t exposed to contrary scientific evidence—just as its leaders worked for thirty years to prevent their being exposed to contrary science on evolution; and
- many counties and cities participate in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiative—ICLEI—which provides UN-drafted environmental regulations to local governments, leapfrogging over our Constitution’s reservation of all international treaty-making powers to the federal government and sidestepping citizen involvement in shaping local policy.
First, the Evangelical Environmental Network conducted a year-long campaign that equates being pro-life with supporting stringent restrictions on mercury emissions from power plants—despite the fact that the EPA said the new restrictions would have no discernible health benefit—ironically thanking Congressmen and Senators with 100 percent pro-abortion voting records for being “sensitive to pro-life concerns,” while castigating others with 100 percent pro-life voting records, obscuring the meaning of pro-life, and potentially dividing the pro-life vote. I’m glad to say that the Cornwall Alliance successfully countered the EEN’s campaign by publishing a major paper, The Cost of Good Intentions: The Ethics and Economics of the War on Conventional Energy, providing expert testimony to the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment that refuted EEN’s claims, and gathering endorsements from over thirty major pro-life leaders on a statement denouncing EEN’s campaign.
Second, former National Association of Evangelicals Vice President Richard Cizik, now president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, in an article titled “Family planning is both godly and green,” fulfilled a six-year-old promise to the World Bank to promote population control—although for more than two decades fertility rates in all developed countries (except the United States) have been below replacement levels, developing countries’ fertility rates are falling even faster, Europe is losing 900,000 people a year and Russia a million, China and Japan are on track to lose a fifth of their workforce by 2030, the greatest population problems now stem from rapidly growing elderly and rapidly shrinking working-age components resulting in the collapse of social security systems, and most demographers predict that world population will peak by mid century and then begin a rapid decline—one that could put world population at 300 million two centuries from now, 95 percent lower than today’s.
How do we respond? The Cornwall Alliance, a network of theologians, scientists, and economists, is the world’s foremost evangelical organization working to promote Biblical Earth stewardship, economic development for the poor, and the proclamation and defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the midst of a world permeated by secular and pagan environmentalism. Our sixty some scholars donate their time and expertise to help us expose and refute environmentalism’s poor science, poor economics, and policies that endanger liberty and prosperity.
How do we do this?
Are we effective? Our opponents think so. We’ve been attacked by RightWingWatch, Talk2Action, ThinkProgress, Mother Nature Network, Mother Jones, Care2MakeaDifference, the Center for American Progress, even Russian TV’s Alyona Show. Green activist Robert Cabin, writing in Huffington Post, blames us for the death of environmentalism in America. (We only wish we had such power!) Canadian eco-guru David Suzuki mourns our Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming because it gained endorsements from hundreds of evangelical theologians, scientists, and others, markedly shifting evangelical thought away from the climate alarmism he embraces. And People for the American Way says we have “been extraordinarily successful in convincing the Religious Right that environmentalism presents a threat to Christianity.”
- By educating policymakers through experts who testify before committees of Congress or brief the White House Council on Environmental Quality (which under a previous administration actively sought our counsel!).
- By educating the public through
- our weekly electronic newsletter and lively Facebook group page;
- our Resisting the Green Dragon videos and book;
- scores of articles on our website;
- frequent appearances as guests on talk shows—forty-two times so far in 2012 (an average of more than once every three days), on a total of seventeen different programs;
- our production of outstanding scholarly papers;
- our scholars’ production of articles for publication in newspapers and magazines—twelve so far in 2012, published in places like the Washington Times, Washington Examiner, World magazine, First Things journal, Crosswalk.com, MasterResource.org, and more—not to mention that these articles have been reprinted from their original sources in scores or even hundreds of places on the Web;
- our providing speakers for conferences, churches, colleges, Christian schools, community organizations—thirteen times so far in 2012, in five states plus Uganda, with six more already scheduled between now and the middle of June, in six states plus Canada.
Do we really understand the radical environmental movement? The world’s leading non-Christian authority on religious environmentalism, Dr. Bron Taylor, editor of the Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature and author of Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future, thinks so. Writing in Huffington Post about our Resisting the Green Dragon video series, he said we have “an accurate perception that there is a religious dimension to much environmentalism” and “understand, accurately, that those engaged in nature-based spiritualities … are converting many to an evolutionary worldview and an environmentalist spirituality and ethics” and “know that this is one reason [churches] are having trouble even keeping their own children in the fold.”
Up to now, we’ve operated on a shoestring budget compared with most organizations with our influence. Now, however, in the face of the threats I’ve just mentioned, we have opportunities for service that are much bigger than anything we’ve done before. I can only take time to tell you about three:
For us to achieve these objectives and more, we need far greater financial support than we’ve ever had before. Would you pray and consider supporting us in this work with a generous one-time gift of $1,000, $5,000, or $10,000? If you can’t give that much, smaller gifts of $500, $250, or $100 are still very helpful. Or you could consider monthly donations. You can mail checks to The Cornwall Alliance, 9302-C Old Keene Mill Rd., Burke, VA 22015, or use our secure online donation page to give by credit card or automatic withdrawal from your checking or savings account.
- First, we need to expand the ongoing research and writing that support our general educational work through our newsletter, blog, Facebook page, opinion columns, interviews on radio and television, and the production of occasional major papers like our Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science, and Economics of Global Warming, our The Cost of Good Intentions: The Ethics and Economics of the War on Conventional Energy, our Cornwall Stewardship Agenda, and others.
- Second, we are beginning to build state-wide Christian Leaders’ Advisory Councils, two-way communications channels through which we can inform Christian leaders of global and national developments that affect them and their congregations and communities while they inform us of state and local developments, and together we promote Biblically, scientifically, and economically sound environmental stewardship and economic development for the poor. The aim is to help them better guard their flocks from the spiritual and material threats of the Green movement.
- Third, we are discussing with a leading publisher of Christian home and private school science curriculum a partnership to produce the first ever formal environmental curriculum built on a solidly Biblical worldview and incorporating the excellent science and economics for which Cornwall Alliance has become famous. The first stage is planned for grades nine through twelve, followed by middle school, and then elementary school. We’re going to ensure that it meets state curriculum standards, so that after the Christian version is finished, we can revise it to produce a secular version usable in the nation’s public schools.
E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., founded the Cornwall Alliance in 2005. A former Christian college and seminary professor, he is the author of over ten books, including three on population, resources, and the environment, and hundreds of articles. He is a popular speaker for churches, colleges, schools, and conferences. To arrange for him or another Cornwall Alliance scholar to speak for your group, call 703-569-4653.