Category Archives: Environment

General stuff on the environment, especially Christians and the environment

Mis-reading Romans Chapter 8

Does Romans support the idea of a fallen or wounded creation? Most translations, commentaries and theologians seem to say yes (even if they say no).

 

buckland

William Buckland in 1841 dressed for fieldwork in geology

Here is a quote from an article on CS Lewis and suffering by Bethany Sollerender on the Biologos site

In Romans 8:19-22, arguably the strongest case to be made for a fallen cosmos, it is God who subjects the creation to frustration, not Satan. In a minority reading of this passage some commentators interpret “the one who subjected it” as Adam, but no one suggests Satan (since Satan would not subject it “in hope”). – See more at: http://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/challenging-cs-lewis-on-evil-and-evolution#sthash.hdHk9qrl.dpuf

 

The eighth chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Romans is probably the high point of all his epistles, beginning with the fact that “there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus” and concluding with the ecstatic claim that nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Paul’s Letter to the Romans is a long sustained argument for the truth of the Christian Faith. All agree that the argument continues to at least the end of Chapter 8, and scholars differ whether it continues to chapters 9 to 11. I shall not consider that and my only interest is whether the Greek word ktisis in Romans 8 should be translated “creation” or “humanity”. Most commentators today state, with no or little argument, that ktisis is “creation”, but older commentators are divided. Related to that are the meanings of “futility” mataiotes and “decay” phthora.

The issue may seem to be trivial but the section Romans 8 vs 18-24 is commonly used to give the final biblical warrant for two rather diametrically opposed opinions within the churches today. First, Young Earth Creationists use the idea of the “creation” suffering and groaning (vs 22) as confirmation of the Adamic Curse of Genesis 3, which brought disease, suffering and death into the world. (This is also present among other Christians, and creeps into writings of those who are anything but Creationists.) Secondly, many Green Christians use these verses as a reason why Christians must heal a “wounded planet” i.e. Creation. Both have some justification if ktisis means creation, but if ktisis means humanity the use of this passage for either of these two purposes is invalid.

As almost all Christians only read the New Testament in translation, the alternative translations of the word are overlooked. Few commentators discuss the alternatives at any length, and often simply make an affirmation that ktisis includes the whole inorganic and organic creation rather than a justification for that translation.

Romans 8 is about the work of the Holy Spirit in empowering a believer. The section relevant to this discussion is Romans 8 vs 18 – 25, with the over-riding theme of hope and endurance in suffering. Here is the NRSV translation

 

18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know

 

This is the NRSV version and others do not differ materially. The three words under scrutiny here are creation, futility and decay. From Arndt and Gingrich the words have a variety of meanings. Ktisis can mean creation, that which is created i.e creature, humanity and civil authorities.[1] Phthora can mean either decay or depravity or immorality i.e sin. Mataiotes means futility and is used in the Septuagint of Ecclesiastes. Now here is the same passage of Romans using the alternative translations;

18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For humanity waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for humanity was subjected to moral futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that humanity itself will be set free from its bondage to immorality (moral decay?) and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole of humanity has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only humanity, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know.

This leads on to several questions;

  • Does reading ktisis as humankind make better sense of Paul’s argument and does it give it a better sense of flow?
  • How many meanings does ktisis have? Which fits in best into both the immediate and wider context of Romans?
  • Are there any historical reasons why humankind has been the favoured rendering of ktisis?
  • What is the meaning of “futility” mataiotes and “decay” phthora?

[1] A and g 456-7

Having checked out all the occurrences of ktisis, matiotes, phthora  in both the New Testament and the Apostolic fathers, it is impossible to force one meaning of these three words on to the various texts studied. Frequently the context makes it clear but others are ambiguous. Words are often used to mean different things in different contexts.

The context in Romans.

So far, I avoided the wider context beyond Romans 8. Apart from references in Romans 1 and Romans 8.19-22, Paul does not deal with creation/cosmos in his letter except in passing. The substance is the salvation from sin – of humanity, Jews and Gentiles; Rom 1 vs 16. The first eleven chapters explore this, considering humanity’s relationship to God both in sin or through redemption, and noting the difference with Jew and Gentile. The whole letter is people and salvation orientated, with hardly a nod to creation. That is not a criticism as Paul was writing for a particular purpose. If Rom 8.19-23 is about creation/cosmos then these few verses are like an erratic block which has no relation to what is discussed before or after, and seems to have been transported from elsewhere. If so, Paul goes off at a tangent and then returns to his main them in vs 24

If ktisis is humanity, then there is a seamless argument going back before Romans7, considering the power of sin in chapter 7 before moving to life in the spirit in chapter 8 which deals with how redeemed creation overcomes mataiotes vanity to avoid moral decay phthorai and pasa he ktisis “waits with eager long for the revealing of the children of god.”

This is the argument briefly, and I rest my case.

 

APPENDIX I

Two applications of Romans 8 19-24

Frequently Roman 8.19ff is use to buttress to rather different arguments. The first is for Creationism, positing that Rom 8 supports a Fall which resulted in a Curse on all life. The second is to see our planet as a wounded planet and thus to give a particular exegetical support for certain environmental arguments. Both take ktisis to be cosmos and the other words to tally with physical decay etc.

Creationists and the Curse

Many Creationists emphasise that death, even for animals, only came in at the Fall of Adam and after that God cursed all life with death and suffering. Many, like Ken Ham support this from Romans 8, which they read through the spectacles of the Curse. The idea of no death before the Fall is the lynchpin of much creationism today  and biblically is based on a particular reading of Genesis 3 and of Romans 8, as in https://answersingenesis.org/bible-history/so-what-are-the-7-cs-anyway/ .

Adam’s sin ushered death, sickness and sorrow into the once-perfect creation (Romans 5:12). God also pronounced a curse on the world, changing it completely (Genesis 3, Romans 8:20–22). As a result, the world that we now live in is merely a decaying remnant—a corruption—of the beautiful, righteous world that Adam and Eve originally called home. The good news is that, rather than leave His precious handiwork without hope, God graciously promised to one day send a Redeemer who would buy back His people from the curse of sin (Genesis 3:15).

This argument was used by opponents of geology in the early 19th Century and to counter this the geologist, Rev William Buckland gave a sermon in 1838 in the Cathedral at Christchurch would reach many, and particularly those considered as opinion formers at Oxford. Buckland later became Dean of Westminster. It was my reading of Buckland that led to this study.

His sermon An inquiry whether the sentence of death pronounced at the fall of man included the whole animal creation or was restricted to the human race given in Oxford in 1839 is in part a response to the noisy minority of nay-sayers of anti-geologists, who included Frank Nolan, the Bampton Lecturer of 1833. Here we do not see Buckland the geologist wielding his geological hammer or tracing out routes of former glaciers, but being a theologian and carefully studying biblical texts.

He took as his text Romans 5.12; “As by one man sin came into the world, and death by sin”[30], which he discussed briefly along with 1 Cor 15 vs21. The heart of his sermon is an interpretation of Romans 8 vs 19-23, followed by a comment on Paradise Lost. In both the Romans 5 and I Corinthians 15 passages Buckland stresses that no mention is made of any “other part of creation” and that “death is mentioned only in immediate apposition to, and connexion with the remedy provided for it by the sacrifice of Christ”.

When Buckland came to Romans 8 vs 19ff, he emphasized that ktisis (creation) can mean both the “whole creation” or  the “whole human race”, and chose to cite Gill, an 18th century Baptist commentator of “ultra-conservative “ views that “’Tis best of all by the creature to understand the Gentile world” i.e. not creation as such. He then referred to Colossians 1 vs 23 and Mark 16 vs 15 where pase te ktisis (the whole creation) clearly means humanity. After all, apart from St Francis, few preach to animals!

Without going into detail, Buckland’s interpretation is the minority one today, but is not without support both now and in previous centuries.

Having raised questions about Romans 8, Buckland then pointed out that such “erroneous” ideas on physical and animal death are “so deeply imprinted on most men’s minds, that maturer judgment rarely stops to enquire precisely as to the source…”  He alluded to painters and poets, especially Milton, almost anticipating both Edward Hitchcock and Bishop Colenso. He took theological support from Shuttleworth and Bishop Bull to buttress his orthodoxy.

Buckland then went to argue that had not Adam fallen, humans would have been mortal but without the pain of death would have passed on to another existence. Here he drew on the Discourse on the State of Man before the Fall by Bishop George Bull 1634-1710, who was very much in the Anglican tradition of Richard Hooker. Buckland seems to have done this to show that Milton’s view was not universal and that he had not diverged from traditional understandings of Genesis 3.

To conclude, Buckland’s sermon has a dated feel about it as it predates both evolution and most critical biblical scholarship, but he does wrestle with the issues raised and takes on those who wish to claim there was a Curse which afflicted the planet and all life on it. By 1839 most educated Christians had accepted the vast age of the earth and, by implication, that the Curse had no real effect on the earth and life, but did not consider the full implications and so for well over a century such questions were either not considered or avoided.

Environmentalists and the Wounded Planet

In recent years some, or even many, Christian environmentalists have focussed on the standard reading of Romans 8 and stress how our “wounded planet” is “groaning”. If ktisis means humanity then the theological reasoning behind this is not valid. However this needs far more elucidation than this brief comment.

There are many examples of this and here are two important ones;

http://www.jri.org.uk/resource/ray_natural_historian.htm

Douglas Moo deals with this in his long paper Nature in the New Creation: New Testament Eschatology and the Environment  [ Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49 (2006) 449-88] http://www.wheaton.edu/CACE/CACE-Print-Resources/~/media/1A6F51F87327432788A292F9A46CC2DB.pdf

He favours ktisis being cosmos but refers only to Augustine as a naysayer.

If the argument the ktisis means humanity then the use of this passage is invalid. However I would argue vehemently that a Christian is morally and theologically obliged to care for God’s creation.

Further to use this passage to claim that the creation is groaning is to implicitly accept that either the creation is not as God intended and was so from the beginning of time, or that creation underwent a radical change at the time of the Fall due to human sin. The second necessitates a young earth and a literal fall, as there could be no suffering prior to that.  The first means that creation is neither good nor very good.

APPENDIX II

Word study in Greek of ktisis, matiotes and phthora. For this I used the Arndt/gingrich Lexicon and the Greek texts of the New Testament and Apostolic Fathers

The meanings of ktisis

Concerning the meaning of ktisis the Arndt and Gingrich lexicon devotes a column to the various alternatives and how they are used in the Old Testament, New Testament, Apocrypha, Apostolic Fathers and other writings. Arndt and Gingrich state the main meaning ktisis is either Creation (the sum of) or a creature i.e. a part of the total creation. AG cite references from both the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers, and both sets of literature use ktisis several different ways, which often can be elucidated from the context. Thus, I Peter 2 vs 13 uses ktisis as civil authorities.

 

Ktisis in the New Testament

Ktisis as humanity is found in a few examples in the literature and A and G cite Mark 16 vs 15, Colossians 1 vs 23 and Shepherd of Hermas 37 vs 4, using the terms pasa(he) ktisis – all the creation, which in the context must mean humanity rather than the creation, animate and/or inanimate. Using the word rather differently in 2Cor 5 vs17 and Gal 6 vs 15 the Christian is described as kaine ktisis. This could be termed as a new human. Hebrews 4 vs13 uses ktisis for humans. The use in Heb 9 vs11 is more ambiguous, but makes better sense if Ktisis is Creation rather than humanity and thus “not made with hands, that is not [made] by any human” makes less sense. Col 1 v15 speaks of the firstborn of all ktitis. Does this mean the firstborn of all humanity, or the firstborn of all life, thus of creation, i.e. a possibly unicellular organism some 4 billion years ago, or even the firstborn of the total creation, or to put in popular terminology – the firstborn of the Big Bang. Some might even say that Jesus was the firstborn of all evolution! Col 1 vs 23 speaks of the gospel “which has been proclaimed to every creature (ktisis)”.That makes better sense is ktisis  is restricted to humans,

The statement of Jesus that “marriage is from beginning of creation ktisis” Mark 10 vs6 /Matt 19 vs4 contains ambiguity and makes equal sense either way, whether as the beginning of creation or the beginning of humanity. From the context and the first century understanding of time, they are probably seen as synonymous. Mark 13 vs 19 is far more ambuiguous and illustrates a non-specific use of the word. The use in II Pet 3 vs4 is similar, whereas I Pet 2 vs 13 uses ktisis for human authorities, yet no translation indicates the use.

 

Ktisis in the Apostolic fathers

The Apostolic fathers use ktisis in varying ways. The occurrences of ktisis are listed in A & G. In many cases ktisis means the whole Creation e.g I Clement 34 vs 6, which quotes Isaiah 6 thus meaning the cosmos. A little later in 1 Clem 59 vs3 has “which is the primal source of all creation”, which can be either cosmos or humanity in the context. It is the same for I Clem 19 vs 3.

The Shepherd of Hermas uses ktisis both as humanity or creation.

Hermas 1 vs 3 “and glorifying the creation of God” can mean either the cosmos, God’s creatures (Holmes) or even humanity. I would favour either the first two.

Hermas 12 v1 is also ambiguous, but Hermas 37 vs 5 (Hm 7.5 in AG) clearly refers to humanity; “every creature [humanity] fears the Lord and keeps his commandments” . This is neither cosmos nor the animal kingdom due to the reference of the commandments.

Moving on from Hermas 59 vs3 which already has been mentioned 59 v5 is ambiguous “The pre-existent Holy Spirit, which created the whole creation”, but 91v5 almost contrasts kosmos and pasa he ktisis. 100v4 is again ambiguous. But coming to Hermas 102vs1 “all the lord’s creation (ktisis) drank from the springs, are believers such as these: apostles …” Here ktisis most clearly means humanity.

78v8 uses ktisis differently   “pan gevos tes ktisis” (all species of creation).

Hermas 89 vs2 is intriguing “the Son of God is older than all his creation” Here one could suggest that Arius would say pasa he ktisis means humanity!! However it seems to mean kosmos.

These examples from the Apostolic Fathers show that ktisis can be used to mean either “creation” or “humanity”. Often, but not always this can be worked out from the context.

These examples from both the New Testament and the Apostolic fathers indicate a varied usage of ktisis. At times it clearly means either cosmos or humanity but many are ambiguous.

Arndt and Gingrich in their Greek-English Lexicon seem to avoid the issue on ktisis and state;

The mng of kt is in dispute in Ro8: 19-22, though the pass. Is usu. taken to mean the waiting of the whole creation below the human level…[1]

However they do not substantiate this point. Yet few follow up Arndt and Gingrich, though the interpretation has great implications both on theodicy and environmental responsibility.

Phthoras (vs21)  and mataiotes (vs20).

Both of these words have multiple meanings and are used in the NRSV to support the idea that ktisis is cosmos.

Rom 8 vs 20 reads “the creation was subjected to futility” or untranslated “te gar mataiotes he ktisis upetage

Elsewhere in the New Testament; Eph 4v17, 2 Pet 2 v18 and in the Apostolic Fathers; I Trallians 8 v2, Barnabas 4 vs 10 and Polycarp, Phillipians 7 v2 it is used to mean human folly, echoing the refrain of Ecclesiastes “vanity of vanities” “mataiotes mataioteton” Eccles 1 vs2 (LXX) etc. mataiotes  is used 40 times in Ecclesiates. mataiotes and cognates are widely used for human folly. Sanday and Headlam weakly argue for ktisis to be cosmos but that means taking a different meaning for mataiotes in this verse.

At the beginning of his argument Rom 1 vs21 Paul referred to those who “became futile (ematsiothesan) in their thinking”.

Turning to phthoras in the NRSV Rom 8 vs 21 reads “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay (phthoras) and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Decay is the primary meaning but it includes religious and moral depravity (AG) . I suggest moral depravity makes better sense in Rom 8 vs21. There is also the question how rocks, minerals and insects “will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

Col 2 vs 22 uses the word to mean “physically perishing” as the “regulations” of vs 20 and 22 are human and finite. Likewise in Paul’s discussion of seeds in I Cor 15 vs 42 and 50. In Gal 6 vs8 Paul uses phthora  in contrast to eternal life, as the ultimate moral and spiritual decay.

In contrast the usage in 2 Peter 1 vs4 “… you may escape from the corruption that is in the world” is clearly moral corruption and likewise in 2 Peter 2 vs 19 are slaves of corruption” I.e. MORAL corruption. However the usage in 2 vs 2b is ambiguous

Moving on to the Apostolic Fathers, in 2 Clem 6 vs 4 which speaks of “adultery and corruption (phthora) and greed and deceit” phthora is only too clearly moral corruption

Ignatius in Romans 7 vs3 wrote “I take no pleasure in corruptible food or the pleasures of this life. I want the bread of life….”  AG takes the “corruptible/perishable food “ of TRom 7 vs 3 “literally”, but Ttrallians 6 vs 1 writes of “Christiani trophe” i.e. a “spiritual food”. I suggest AG is wrong over TRom 7 vs 3.

For the moral sense Barnabas 19 vs5 and Didache 2 vs 2 use  teknon en phthora  to mean abortion. In Did 2 vs 2 paidophthora means corrupting children or as in AG sodomy of children. Barnabas 10vs 6 uses paidophthora with a (strange) typological interpretation of Mosaic food laws

The word phthora  in both the NT and AF is sufficiently fluid and can mean either moral or physical decay.

In Romans 8 it is possible to argue for either, but moral decay makes better sense.

 

Conclusion on word meanings.

From a consideration of the usage of ktisis, mataiotes and phthora in the NT and Apostolic Fathers, it is not possible to come down firmly on the “standard” translation of the three words. At the weakest, the usage must be seen as ambiguous, but a consideration of the whole argument of Romans favours humanity, human futility/folly and moral corruption.

Sanday and Headlam on Romans 8 state without much ado that  “The two verses [22 &23] must be kept apart.” They must if ktisis means cosmos as verse 23 means Christians and thus the two verses have little relation to each other. However if ktisis means (unredeemed) humanity then the two verses are linked by contrasting the situation of the old and new humanity/ktisis, i.e. before and after regeneration. There is no break indicated by punctuation in the Greek text, which suggests the two verses must not be kept apart and thus give a contrast of the immorality of the old creation/humanity and those who have the first portion of the spirit, to wit – redemption.

[1] Arndt, W.F. & Gingrich, F.W. , A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1957 p457.

Whoopee for Roundup! Glyphosate found ‘not carcinogenic’: Key European safety agency joins consensus view on herbicide’s safety

To many Round up or Glyphosphate is the most wicked weedkiller of them all.

It is highly effective and kills everything. Over 30 years ago I was advised to use it by the green experts in Liverpool to clear parts of my garden, so I could then re-seed it. I expressed my surprise as then being a naive greenie I used no weed-killers. It worked !

since then glyphospahte has been demonised especially by the anti-Green NGOs Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

They have been shown to be wrong.

This is yet another example of supposed green NGOs destroying our environment

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A key European safety agency says glyphosate does not cause cancer, paving the way for the herbicide to regain long-term approval for use in the European Union.

Source: Glyphosate found ‘not carcinogenic’: Key European safety agency joins consensus view on herbicide’s safety

At Last, Greenpeace Admits to ‘Rhetorical Hyperbole’ i.e lying #fakefacts

In the UK we get fed up of the terminological inexact reports and campaigns of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. In Canada GP come out with the exquisite euphemism

heated rhetoric is the coin of the realm.

Less delicately that would be “bloody lies”

 

But we have the same in Britain over fracking and possibly over bees.

DSCF2859

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/not-for-shale/

And, of course, this is what Friends of the Earth were doing with this leaflet

foe-leaflet-cover

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/friends-of-the-earth-fck-it-up/

It seems that the same thing is happening in North America  and here is an article about Greenpeace at it in the National Review, who would probably regard me as a pinko.

http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445373/greenpeace-environmental-groups-sued-resolute-forest-products-ontario-quebec

by RICHARD GARNEAU March 2, 2017 4:00 AM A company unfairly attacked by the environmental group has sued it. A few years ago Greenpeace and allied groups chose my company, Resolute, Canada’s largest forest-products company, to be their next victim. They compiled a litany of outlandish assertions: We were “forest destroyers,” for example, aggravating climate change, and causing a “caribou death spiral and extinction” in Canada’s boreal habitat. Greenpeace harassed companies we do business with, threatening them with the same sort of smear campaign that they launched against us and even instigating cyber-attacks on their websites. And they bragged about the damage — $100 million, in Canadian dollars — that they claimed to have inflicted on our business. They were lying about our forestry practices, so we did something that none of the group’s other targets have yet found the wherewithal to do: We sued them, in Canada, for defamation and intentional interference with economic relations, and in the United States under RICO statutes. A funny thing happened when Greenpeace and allies were forced to account for their claims in court. They started changing their tune.

 

Their condemnations of our forestry practices “do not hew to strict literalism or scientific precision,” as they concede in their latest legal filings. Their accusations against Resolute were instead “hyperbole,” “heated rhetoric,” and “non-verifiable statements of subjective opinion” that should not be taken “literally” or expose them to any legal liability. These are sober admissions after years of irresponsible attacks.   No “forest loss” was caused by Resolute, the groups concede — now that they are being held accountable. Of course, these late admissions are consistent with the findings of just about every independent journalist and commentator who has covered the dispute, from the Wall Street Journal editorial board to Enquête, a Canadian version, roughly, of 60 Minutes. Even Steve Forbes weighed in, calling our lawsuit “an outstanding example of how unfairly attacked companies should respond.” Peter Reich, one of the world’s leading forest ecologists, has said that Greenpeace has “a fundamental disregard for scientific reality.” RELATED: In a ‘Post-Truth’ Era, Greenpeace Lies to Raise Money Finally hearing the truth from Greenpeace itself is vindication, even if it comes in the form of a tortured defense of its actions, rather than a simple apology. Remarkably, despite admitting in court that its rhetoric against Resolute is not true, Greenpeace continues to disparage us publicly and privately. Just a few weeks ago, we sent it a cease-and-desist letter demanding that it stop sending to our customers threatening letters accusing us of the “destruction of forests in Quebec and Ontario.” Some news outlets in the United States have filed amicus briefs on behalf of Greenpeace, on free-speech grounds. But freedom of speech is not the same as libel and slander. And the public should ask the outlets when it can expect scrutinizing, critical coverage of what Greenpeace itself now admits are deceptive practices. More than a billion trees. That’s how many Resolute’s workers have planted in Ontario’s boreal forest, in addition to the hundreds of millions that workers have planted in Quebec. Yet for years now, the eco-provocateurs at Greenpeace have been raising money off the calculated mistruths that we are somehow “responsible for the destruction of vast areas of forest.”   Greenpeace is marauding not just our company but a way of life, one built on nurturing healthy forests that are the lifeblood of the people who live there. So far they have acted with virtual impunity and profited handsomely. One Greenpeace executive was even caught laughing on camera when he was confronted on a leading broadcast program with photos of a forest, affected by a wildfire, that the group erroneously said was “destroyed” by Resolute. It was morally wrong and yet another example that, as Greenpeace puts it, “heated rhetoric is the coin of the realm.” For me, confronting this barrage of misinformation has been more than just about business ethics. It is very personal. I was raised in Quebec’s Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, where my family has lived for generations. I harvested trees by hand to pay my way through school. Now 50 years later, those forest areas are again ready for harvest, and someday I will retire to this same land that my great-grandfather tilled. Greenpeace is marauding not just our company but a way of life, one built on nurturing healthy forests that are the lifeblood of the people who live there. That’s why union leaders, small-business people, First Nations chiefs, and mayors and other government officials, of all political stripes, have written Greenpeace, imploring it to halt its campaign of misinformation. In nearly every instance, Greenpeace lacked the simple decency to respond, apparently indifferent to the human consequences of its actions. Last summer, nearly 5,000 people marched through the streets of the small northern Quebec town of Saint-Félicien, demanding an end to Greenpeace’s disingenuous market campaign. Recognizing that the very viability of their communities are now held in the balance, local leaders have even “extended a hand” for eco-activists to have a dialogue with them. It is telling that Greenpeace neither showed up nor responded. As a chief executive, I often meet and engage personally with our devoted employees at the local level, in the forests where they live and work. I know we share a common interest and a responsibility to sustain the forests for tomorrow. That’s why we’re not going to let Greenpeace get away with using “rhetorical hyperbole” to make false and damaging accusations from hundreds and thousands of miles away, in its glass-walled towers in Amsterdam, Hamburg, and Washington, D.C.  We’re going to stand tall, both in public discourse and in the courts. For my part, my guiding hope is to return to the forest with the ability to face my neighbors, my family, and my community and tell them that I stood up and told the truth. — Richard Garneau is the president and CEO of Resolute Forest Products.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445373/greenpeace-environmental-groups-sued-resolute-forest-products-ontario-quebec

Criminal trespass at National rally against #fracking at Preston New Road –

The anti-fracking rally near Blackpool ended up with criminal trespass by 100 out 250 protesters. I wonder how many were local

 

Here is a video of the trespass https://twitter.com/LancsForShale/status/835863656361562113

And an excellent video from That’s Lancashire

And a not good #fakesnews report from Friends of the Earth

Despite being billed as a family friendly gathering, today’s national rally against fracking has led to unacceptable scenes of trespass and public disorder, as well as disruption to local businesses and the community at Preston New Road. We are deeply troubled to see that hardline activists – mostly from outside the area – have hijacked …

Source: National rally against #fracking at Preston New Road – Lancashire For Shale

Despite being billed as a family friendly gathering, today’s national rally against fracking has led to unacceptable scenes of trespass and public disorder, as well as disruption to local businesses and the community at Preston New Road.

IMG_4394

 

We are deeply troubled to see that hardline activists – mostly from outside the area – have hijacked what was meant to be a peaceful demonstration, and have turned it into a serious and ugly confrontation with the police and authorities.

After a rally at Maple Farm, which police say was attended by around 250 people – many travelling to the area by specially laid on buses from London and Brighton – somewhere in the region of 100 activists trespassed in the farmer’s field leased to Cuadrilla and stormed a construction compound.

Whilst we respect people’s legitimate right to protest, there is no place for this kind of behaviour in civilised society, and we expect the police and courts to deal with offenders robustly.

Cuadrilla has obtained all the necessary legal permissions it needs to now get on with shale gas exploration, and should be allowed to do just that.

Despite the trouble, the fact that the total number of people attending the demo was so small compared to past events shows that movement is running out of steam at the national level, and that, in general, local people have accepted the Secretary of State’s decision to approve fracking on the Fylde and just want to see Cuadrilla now get on with it.

They also want to see the promised jobs and supply chain opportunities benefiting local people and companies, and will be rightly concerned that today’s behaviour could put some companies off working in the shale gas industry, forcing Cuadrilla to spend money outside Lancashire.

 

Here’s the BBC report recording only 250 protesters.

 

Why can BBC not correct their inaccurate and misleading graphic on fracking?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-39083769

Darwin’s 208th Birthday – and God

Darwin Day 12th February 2017

This year Darwin’s birthday fell on a sunday and thus as it was a family service I preached a Darwin-lite sermon. One thought it a bit controversial

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As I preach on creation today I have someone to help me

[most were slow in recognising him, but got it finally]

It is very apt as it is 208th birthday [the organist struck up Happy Birthday] Now Darwin was the greatest British scientist and did so much to help our understanding of creation and its development over the last few billion years and brought out the inter-relatedness of all life through his Theory of Evolution.

We don’t think enough about Creation and whether, in fact, God actually created everything,

how we should aprreciate creation i.e the natural world, and

how we should care for creation.

To consider creation I shall play on three letters

OHW

to be arranged as

WHO

and

HOW

The first is;

WHO

We ask, “Who made Creation?”. The answer is God

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (Gen 1 vs1)

It comes out in many parts of the bible and in the Nicene Creed.

Too often God is pushed to one side and some Christians almost deny God as creator to avoid “conflict with scientists.”

There are some atheistic scientists who argue that science elimates God. In Britain the most well-known is Richard Dawkins, but in America  P.Z. Myers and Jerry Coyne are more strident. All are good scientists. However, some put up a strawman that Christians must believe in a 6000 year old earth.As the universe is 13 billion years old and the earth is four and half billion this makes it difficult for some Christians and implies you cannot be a Christian and accept science.

Creation does not tell us about that but tells us the WHO – God. We need to keep that foremost and see that God created everything. We need to go further and ask “HOW?”

HOW

HOW did creation come about?

HOW does it work?

HOW has it changed over time?

The Bible does not answer any of those questions. That should be obvious as Genesis was written in about 1000BC and thus the writers had no knowledge of science. The New Testament writers also knew very little science  – and there was little to know. The purpose of the Bible is tell us the WHO not the HOW. For the HOW we need to go to science as that looks at creation with the question how. In fact, science hardly goes back to Biblical times and has only taken off in the last 500 years. All the different sciences tell us something about the HOW.

One of the greatest scientists and one of my favourites is Charles Darwin  – 208 years old today. In the 1830s he spent 5 years travelling around the world on the Beagle studying the geology , botany and zoology of wherever he went. From this and what he learnt from others he pulled all the sciences of biology and geology together and produced his theory of evolution. This he published in The Origin of Species  in 1859 and in The Descent of Man of 1871 where he showed how we are evolved from other animals. Darwin did not see this as conflicted with the Christian faith and nor should we.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To put it simply Genesis tells us the WHO of Creation and Darwin the HOW.

HOW TO ENJOY

We need more than that, we need to know HOW to enjoy and appreciate Creation. Genesis says “God saw that it was good” and so should we!

We must have an appreciation and wonder of Creation, but too often we can suffer from a Creation/Nature Deficit Syndrome, as Richard Louv called it, when people live lives almost cut off from the natural world. An example is when some people from Preston go to Beacon Fell and are scared by the wildness and remoteness. [Beacon Fell is a wooded hill of 850 ft above Preston, where there is a Country Park. It is very much nature tamed but very pleasant. Louv argues that many under 50 suffer from NDS.]

 

So what do we appreciate? Nature large and small. All creatures great and small. We can see the wonder and beauty  and dramatic scenery like mountains but also flatlands.The same with a Golden Eagle or lovely little black and red Burnet moth. The awe and wonder came out when taking an American biologist friend around the Lake District. We had driven up the awesome and rugged Wrynose Pass and were descending to the east.

084

(sorry this is Tryfan in Snowdonia!!)

Suddenly he shouted “stop”. He had spotted some sundew by the side of the road.

174

On Friday I went up the Dales mountain Ingleborough which was dramatic under snow and ice. On the small scale ice had formed on the rocks showing the direction of the wind.

 

This is something we can do each day, whether in our garden or wherever we go. There is always something to see, whether the first crocus, unusual clouds or a new moon. We need to look at the big things and the little things and remember that “God saw everything that he had made and it was very good.” (Gen 1 vs 31)

 

HOW TO CARE

How many, not only children, kill any creepy crawlies whether in house or garden? And so wasps, millipedes, spiders  and lots of other creatures are sent to oblivion.

How many, not only children, leave the tap full on while brushing their teeth? That probably wastes 2 gallons of water and is nearly a 10% increase on our daily home usage of water.

These are just two common thoughtless little actions which are damaging to creation. There are thousands of others as well as more corporate large ones, which are too numerous to list.

A trivial action indicates what we should be like. In 1828 Darwin and a friend were walking across the Britannia bridge to Anglesey when he found a lonely toad in danger of being squashed by a cart. Darwin picked it up, took it to the end and let it go.

In this Darwin gives an example to follow as we look for the thousand little things we CAN do to encourage wildlife (plant flowers and shrubs to encourage insects), limit use of materials (use a bike more, use less water etc) and avoid pollution.

As well as these little things there are larger matters which are beyond the individual; major clean-up of rivers, peat restoration on moorlands as well as national policy.

DSCF3573

(this shows degradation of our peat moors. 10 ft of peat have been lost in 100 years )

Above all Caring for Creation is both by the individual and more corporately with either groups or the government. All this fulfils Gen 1 vs 26 where have “dominion” over the earth means to care for it and not to wreck it for selfish gain.

On Darwin’s birthday we have considered  the WHO of creation, that God is creator but for the HOW we need science in all its forms.

We also considered HOW we should enjoy creation in all its aspects and HOW to care for it.

Too often as Christians we have ignored Creation  both in our beliefs and our practice. As the focus of the church in the weeks before lent is on creation, then it is a good time to consider how our belief in Creation works out in our daily lives.

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As I typed this up from my sermon notes I felt it was too brief and rather superficial. I was tempted to put many additional comments in and develop almost every point I made.

There were many children present so it had to be simple and thus it is only an incredibly brief summary.

I do know that some said it was helpful.

I aimed to give basic principles and not go into depth on scientific issues as my simple affirmation of the correctness of evolution was sufficient here.Other blogs deal with that!

My aim was to prod people to enjoy creation if they don’t already  – and many have lost the joy of birdsong or a flower.

On care of Creation or environmental issues I had to be simplistic and didn’t mention the usual problems of climate change or fracking. Anyway those two subjects are not quite as simple as some Green christians think 😦 . I am aware some reckon I am beyond the pale on both!!

Two useful secular books are; The moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy, and The Nature Principle by Richard Louv.

There is an immense literature on Darwin and Christianity, both secular and Christian. The websites of Christians in Science and the Faraday Institute , Biologos or http://www.asa3.org are good starting points

 

 

 

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100% renewable energy and zero emissions – can we do it?

I have re-blogged this from Lee Petts of Remsol in Preston. He is an environmentalist with dirty hands as he actually does things environmental rather than just woffle or protest. Hi writings are always well-thought out.

As we see 100% renewables are a pipe-dream and blind faith

fossilfree

 

 

100% renewable energy and zero emissions – can we do it – Remsol – growth focused sustainability, CSR and environmental consultants

After reading news of how Google expects to meet its 100% renewable energy target in 2017, we decided to examine how realistic this goal is in the UK

Source: 100% renewable energy and zero emissions – can we do it – Remsol – growth focused sustainability, CSR and environmental consultants

Why Postmodernism kills science and technology 

I have long felt that to follow Postmodernism you can say nothing definite about anything (but you can be definite about that) All have their own truth and this undermines understanding anything technical  (or historical) as creationism is as good as evolutionary science, you can reduce Green issues to feelings wrapped up in a little selective science and so on

Scientists Should Oppose the Drive of Postmodern Ideology

 

The National Academies of Sciences of the USA recently published a report entitled Gene Drive on the Horizon. This commentary discusses the ‘Aligning Research with Public Values’ aspects in this report, the topic of public engagement, and the worrying ideological shift towards postmodernism which aims to deconstruct Enlightenment values.

Source: Scientists Should Oppose the Drive of Postmodern Ideology