We can’t talk about “the death of science” unless we are prepared to grant that once upon a time, some such thing as science actually lived.
R. J. Rushdoony saw science as “one of man’s tools in establishing and furthering that dominion over the earth under God.” Originally, he explained, science was indistinguishable from magic, whose purpose is “the total control by man over man, nature, and the supernatural.” But, “[u]nder the influence of Christianity, science escaped the constraints of magic” and became a useful tool.
So we can speak of a “science” which has helped us to accomplish any number of remarkable and beneficial things—increasing the yield of our croplands, controlling diseases, expanding the dissemination of useful information, and so on. These accomplishments may all be described as furthering our God-given mission of exercising dominion over the earth. No one can deny that something called “science” has been very much a part of that.
Tim Bloedow’s book is about another kind of science—science that has reunited itself to magic. For science to overstep its role as a tool of dominion under God, Rushdoony explained, “is to forsake science for magic. The purposes of modern science are increasingly those of magic, the exercise of total control. The essential goal of modern science is knowledge in order to have prediction, planning and control.”
This kind of science is the death of useful science. And nowhere, writes Bloedow, can this be more clearly seen than in modern science’s embrace of environmentalism.
Just the Facts?
“Science… is not a realm of study around which all people can gather with the confidence that they will understand the facts the same way, regardless of their religious convictions,” Bloedow says. “In the real world, there is no such thing as a brute fact—a non-interpreted fact” (p. ix).
Ah, there’s the rub. Science has long masqueraded as philosophy’s answer to Sgt. Joe Friday: “Just the facts, ma’am.” Science, we have been taught, concerns itself only with the facts, collecting information from the real world, arranging it in an organized way, and drawing solid, verifiable, uncontestable conclusions from it. You can’t argue with science, we’ve been told: a fact is a fact is a fact, whether you’re an atheist or a Seventh Day Adventist. If it’s a “scientific fact,” you’re stuck with it.
There we leave scientific objectivity behind.
“Environmentalism—just like every other area of life—is fundamentally a theological issue,” Bloedow writes. “Indeed, Environmentalism is fundamentally a religious issue and one for which there is very little, if any, middle ground between serious Christians and zealous Environmentalists” (p. i).
Far from being just a set of honest and neutral interpretations of real-world facts, environmentalism is a religious and political movement that runs the gamut from “a moral and spiritual challenge,” in Al Gore’s words (p. vi), to out-and-out “intolerance and fanaticism” (p. x).
Bloedow takes notice of David Suzuki, Canada’s most vocal and draconian environmentalist—not a top-flight research scientist, but a former longtime Canadian TV personality whose “ignorance of fundamental science is breathtaking” (p. vii). “It is beyond his comprehension that anyone possessing a human brain can disagree with his apocalyptic global warming theory or his concerns over species extinction, etc.” (p. x).
By now we have seen everyone who questions global warming—environmentalism’s Holy Grail—pilloried as “Neanderthals,” or “holocaust deniers,” or worse. The tone is anything but “scientific.”
It’s Always Doomsday
Environmentalism can’t survive without a doomsday scenario. Forty years ago it was “the population bomb,” proclaimed by the infallibly wrong Paul Ehrlich. Soon afterward, it was an impending Ice Age. That has given way to Global Warming—which, in deference to harsh winters and less than torrid summers, is yielding place to the much more elastic boogeyman of Climate Change.
Whatever form it takes, the message is always the same: “Put us in power and do what we say, or you’re all gonna die!”
Christians, by and large, have failed to respond effectively to these scare tactics, says Bloedow. Most of today’s Christian criticism of environmentalism is “very superficial” and fails to include “any intelligent critique of today’s claims of environmental crises such as global warming. For the most part, these claims of crises are accepted unquestioningly, with Christian commentary being devoted to the question of what contributions Christians might make to solve the problems” (p. 99).
Afraid of being called Neanderthals, afraid to argue with “science,” many Christians don’t even try to stand up to the environmentalists. “The debate is over, the science is settled,” insist Al Gore and his acolytes: everyone is to shut up and obey.
But the debate is not over; it was never held. Tom Bloedow has written this book to start the debate, and equip Christians to hold their own in it.
“Only Christians can offer mankind a vision and functional model of unity and diversity which translates into environmental positions that are scientific, that are consistent with maximum human liberty, and that are incompatible with ideas which advance centralist civil government” (p. 6). In fact, he says, “The goal for Christians in the culture wars is victory. Détente is a sinful goal…” (p. iii).
A Bent for Statism
Bloedow analyzes the various strands of militant environmentalism.
*It is based on the premise that the natural world is fragile, extremely vulnerable to destruction by human action or inaction. “They see the world only in terms of its fragility,” when in reality, nature displays flexibility, dynamism, and resilience (p. 3).
*Because the world is so fragile, it needs constant protection from the ham-fisted human race. This belief is what gives environmentalism its penchant for statism.
Environmentalists don’t believe “the earth is the Lord’s… the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). They believe in “subjugating all of life—including economic decision-making—to the control and supervision of the civil government” (p. 77). And, “The elites need to micro-manage our lives in order to steer us towards ‘correct’ behavior” (p. 79).
There is no room for God in environmentalism. “For Humanists… man is god… Man as he is represented by the state… this God-imitating civil government believes it has the power to redefine reality”(p. 11).
*Although even the most casual observation of the natural world should reveal that one of its dominant characteristics is flux and constant change, environmentalists pursue the totally impossible dream of a rigidly static order. If they didn’t already have their hands on our tax dollars, this would be funny. The same people who believe in a bygone tropical planet of the dinosaurs, succeeded by an Ice Age full of woolly mammoths, continents clumping together and splitting apart, asteroid impacts, and so on, propose to use government to impose an environmental status quo on all the earth.
Here we must begin to wonder if they’re crazy. They point to fossilized ferns in Greenland as evidence of evolution—do they believe that if only there were a progressive Congress in those ancient times, there would still be ferns in Greenland?
King Canute commanded the tide to hold back, just so he could demonstrate the limits of his power. But environmentalists, including many men of science, claim the power to hold back vast planetary changes. If we believe they can actually do it, we’re as loopy as they are.
And please, don’t buy the argument, “We may not be able to do anything about the sun’s heat output now—but given enough time and higher taxes, we’ll surely find a way!”
*Science pop star Freeman Dyson said environmentalism is “a religion that we can all share” (p. 8). Adds Bloedow, “The religious fervor of modern environmentalism is extremely powerful. It is filling a void created by the abandonment of Christianity” (p. 19).
We usually view environmentalism as a department of humanism—which is just a nicer name for atheism: the two are one—but Bloedow sees in its emotional fervor a sign of humanism’s passing, “the death of Humanism, with Pantheism rising from the ashes to replace that dead religion” (p. 23).
Certainly there is much in the environmental movement that smacks more of emotion than of reason. But the same may be said of atheism, too. If “hatred of humanity is mainstream thinking in the Environmental movement” (p. 22), exemplified by the increasing violence of animal rights activists (p. 28), it’s matched by the increasing shrillness and bitterness of atheists’ public attacks on Christianity.
Absurd and Impossible
Why so much emotion? Well, impersonating God is very stressful.
You stop global warming and control the planet’s climate (even though there are many different climates scattered all over the planet) by controlling, by means of government, every sphere of human life. This leads to a fear of fluctuation—that very fluctuation which is inseparable from life itself. But change is proof that the government isn’t in control.
What if some stocks do better than others, and some citizens get rich while others don’t? What if some jobs pay better than others, and some jobs disappear? What if some students pass a test, and others fail?
“There is no such thing as a plateau of permanent deliverance from problems in this life,” writes Bloedow (p. 50), merely saying something that every sane person knows. But permanent deliverance is exactly what humanist scientists and politicians promise us! Deliverance by the hand of an all-powerful, omnicompetent government, in many forms—socialized health care, public education, free college tuition, state-mandated housing loans to persons who can’t possibly repay them, government bailouts of failing companies—there’s no end to it.
The problem is that those schemes to ensure a static order, free of fluctuation, always fail. And why do they fail? Because of ignorance, and sinful pride.
“God has created a natural world that is incredibly complex; and as part of this complexity, the creation has a remarkable resilience and ability to manage change, as well as to combat many potentially damaging situations—without the help of self-important, arrogant men,” Bloedow explains (p. 56).
A natural world created by an all-wise, all-powerful God who remains sovereignly in charge of it cannot be “destroyed” by SUVs or light bulbs, or “saved” by punitive taxation.
“What we call ‘nature,’” observes another writer, “is in fact a complex system of far greater subtlety than we are willing to accept. We make a simplified image of nature and then we botch it up. I’m not an environmentalist, but you have to understand what you don’t understand” [emphasis added].
Quite simply, the plans environmentalists have to “save the planet,” based on incomplete information and a prideful refusal to acknowledge the complexity of nature, are inherently and inescapably absurd and cannot possibly succeed. That they will cost us oceans of money, and undermine our freedom, all the while accomplishing nothing, while risking unintended consequences that may be worse than any “problem” that the plans were meant to solve—well, what else can you expect when fools play God?
We agree with Bloedow that Christians should stop knuckling under to these irresponsible people and their muddled thinking. Sinful man, because he is made in the image of God and has God’s Word to guide him, can also do good (p. 38). Otherwise there would be no such thing as any kind of progress.
“The power and impact of redemption is stronger than the impact of sin… and this will be evident in the trend-lines of history,” writes Bloedow. “This will be evident as much in the way we learn to improve the environment as we harness its power and beauty for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom as it will in every other area of human experience” (p. 101).
Armed with a mission to exercise dominion under God, in obedience to His laws and with science as a tool, not a religion, man can solve a host of problems, including environmental ones. There is no need to resort to absolutist, utopian, lunatic statism “hostile to free markets and property rights” (p. 8).
“Christians and conservatives aren’t arguing that their approach to civil-social affairs will lead to perfection,” Bloedow says, “so perfection is a false standard” (p. 50). But political progressives and their shills among the scientists do promise perfection! They beat us with the stick of a looming environmental Judgment Day while offering us the carrot of an earthly paradise. Don’t take our word for it: for a mind-boggling example of such over-the-top rhetoric, read The Humanist Manifesto II.
It may be that “No action we take is 100% risk-free” (p. 74), but Christians can at least take rational and responsible actions, in a spirit of humility and in loving obedience to God’s Word.
At the very least, our approach will do less harm than the environmentalists’. Rather than channel all power and money into an out-of-control central government, the Bible teaches us to respect the relative sovereignty of each sphere of human life—self-government, family, church, local government, and the state—with each sphere responsible to God (pp. 76–77). The Christian approach prevents the accumulation of power in any one sphere. It is the opposite of what statist/humanists advocate—and it works.
For example, in 1903 the U.S. government spent $73,000 to develop a heavier-than-air flying machine. All six prototypes funded by the government crashed. But the Wright brothers, at a cost of $1,000 of their own money, built the first airplane that could fly (p. 84).
We recommend Tim Bloedow’s book: short, concise, and to the point, besides being excellently written and enjoyably readable. It provides Christians with a clear critique of an environmentalist movement that is seldom criticized anywhere, a clear exposition of the Biblical position on environmental issues, and a ringing affirmation of that position.
Not available in bookstores, Environmentalism and the Death of Science can be ordered from the publisher at [email protected] or directly from the author: Tim Bloedow, PO Box 7, Russell, ON K4R 1C7.
- Lee Duigon
Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.
Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.