A plea to the Pope: Imago Dei

E. Calvin Beisner presents the Cornwall Alliance to Pope Francis: Be Realistic for Humanity’s Sake (energy/climate policy in the balance) and clearly identifies what is at stake.

Alongside good science in our approach to climate policy must be two preferential options: for humanity and, among humanity, for the poor. By this we do not mean to pit humanity against nature, any more than to pit the poor against the rich. Rather, we mean that because humanity alone bears the imago Dei, any effort to protect the environment must put at its center human well-being, and in particular the well-being of the poor, because they are the more vulnerable, the less able to protect themselves.

The case for this is the Biblical ethos of Imago Dei (from Genesis 1:27, wherein “God created man in his own image. . .”) and a rational God.

the Biblical worldview launched science as a systematic endeavor to understand the real world by a rigorous process of testing hypotheses by real-world observation.

Christian and Jewish scholars have performed high-quality science for centuries. They are confident that good science leads toward and will not conflict with the truth about God and man.

As people of Biblical faith, then, we have a commitment not only to truth, but also to the practice of science as one path to truth.

Your concern for genuine science and for the poor requires a more cautious approach, one that carefully considers the scientific evidence regarding the real, not merely the theoretical, effects of human action on global climate, and carefully considers energy technology and economics in seeking to protect the poor from harm.

The world’s poor will suffer most from such policies. The poorest—the 1.3 billion in developing countries who depend on wood and dried dung as primary cooking and heating fuels, smoke from which kills 4 million and temporarily debilitates hundreds of millions every year—will be condemned to more generations of poverty and its deadly consequences.

The key to this is that the environmentalist movement is one that only the wealthy can afford. What is not stated directly is that Biblical belief is being usurped by a belief in Gaia as god and man is demoted from being master to that of being a plague on earth. The issues in the debate are the poor and the truth. It is about what has been seen to improve the welfare of humanity and what is actually known about man’s dominion of the earth versus fantasies about nature and a proper state of the earth as a ball of mud in the solar system.

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