Do you believe in global climate change? Is it a serious threat to world health and peace foisted on us by a century and a half of greedy robber barons, or is it an emperor’s-new-clothes fruit of left-wing self-hatred?
How about ADD? Is it an excuse for permissive parenting and for the overuse of electronic babysitters, or is it a genetic predisposition some children can do nothing about without medication?
Now let’s stop, and let me ask another question. Answer honestly. Are you qualified to judge either of these issues?
- Are any of my readers climate scientists with extensive knowledge of complex computer weather modeling—or even people who have enough scientific knowledge to follow those people’s arguments?
- Are any of my readers trained psychologists or counselors who have spent intense biblical and scientific study time trying to figure out the difference between culpable misbehavior and the fallout from physical injury?
My guess is that I would get no yeses for scientific qualification and a few for psychology/counseling (including a yes from my own wife on the second).
It’s true that the experts will always disagree about important issues and that we all just have to do our best with the lights we have.
But let me poke a little more at these two issues. Something that I suspect goes undetected by both sides is that our answers to these questions, especially to that of climate change, rarely derive from careful use of the lights we have. Instead, asking, “Do you believe in global warming” really boils down to, “Which authorities do you accept, conservative ones or liberal ones?”
I’m not saying that science is so politically biased as to be entirely unreliable—though it would be naive to deny that science is an utterly objective pursuit of truth unalloyed with political concerns.
And there are educated people who make good-faith efforts to read responsible publications and reach informed decisions on these issues. But I wonder how many such people there are. I don’t have time to be one right now myself on ADHD and climate change. And most of the people I hear get exercised about these issues don’t seem to be reading responsible publications but instead seeking out news matching their ideological affiliation.
I recently heard Kevin Bauder say that not everyone is entitled to an opinion. Only those who have done their homework have that right. If Christians are to be “ready always to give a defense” of their hope (1 Pet 3:15), sometimes that will include taking a position on issues like the ones I’m discussing. But in order to do it “with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience,” we need to do our homework. Learn what sources are rightfully considered responsible on any given issue and take the time to read them.