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“Drill, baby, drill,” saith the Lord

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Is Christianity responsible for the ecological crisis of our time? Back in 1967, when the environmental movement was in its salad days, the medieval historian Lynn White said yes.

In a famous article in Science titled, "The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis," White traced planetary depredation to the Christian--or Judeo-Christian--conception of putting the human species in control of nature. Christianity, he wrote, "not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends."

The pushback came pretty quick from Christians who insisted that the first chapters of Genesis, properly understood, mandated that humans provide responsible stewardship of the earth. And out of the debate came a widespread embrace, from mainline Protestantism to the Pope to the Patriarch of Constantinople, of environmentalism.

Still, not all Christians are with the program. For example, on Bryan Fischer's radio show the other day anti-climate change publicist Calvin Beisner offered this interpretation of the Parable of the Talents, wherein the servant who buries his master's money in the ground for safe-keeping is berated for not putting it out at interest. 

“The wicked and lazy steward," as the master called him, was the one who buried his talent in the ground and didn’t do anything to multiply it. That’s essentially what those who say we need to stop using oil, coal, and natural gas are telling us to do. Just leave those resources buried in the ground, rather than pulling them out and multiplying their value for human benefit.

Perhaps reflecting that the Parable is really about differentiating the kingdom of heaven's spiritual capital from thisworldly money-grubbing, Fischer took a different tack, comparing the refusal to exploit fossil fuels to telling someone you don't like your birthday gift.

That's kinda how we're treating God when he's given us these gifts of abundant and inexpensibve and effective fuel sources and we don't thank Him for it and we don't use it...God's buried those treasures there because He loves to see us find 'em and put 'em to use.

Somewere Lynn White, who died in 1987, is saying, "I told you you so."

Topics: Ethics


  1. I assume Calvin Beisner would also think we’re insulting God if faced with a table full of food we attempted to eat it all rather than share it with our neighbours. Or if we refuse to inject Heroin with no medical need.

    God buried the treasure to be used. And he helped us understand to use it wisely, we have to use it slowly. It’s not Gold - once it’s gone it’s gone. It belongs to our children and our grandchildren as does the land that may disappear as sea level rises.

  2. I read Beisner’s comments as God created both Man and the Environment.  We should be mindful to care for both.  God created the abundance of the Earth for Man’s responsible use, not merely to sit idle.  Of course, that abundance is not limitless and is not to be wasted.  Man’s care is not to be put in jeopardy (starvation, freezing, etc.) because we are afraid to use the abundant resources created for our use by God.  Failure to do so is disobedience to God.  We have dual responsibilities - stewardship of the environment and care of Man.  Yes, it is a balancing act.

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