Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking part in a panel discussion at Calvin College, hosted by the Paul B. Henry Institute, focusing on challenges facing the next president. The topic of this inaugural panel for the series was “The Environment,” and there was what I thought was a very worthwhile conversation with Jamie Skillen of Calvin’s Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies department, moderated by Micah Watson of Calvin’s political science department.
I had the chance to prepare some opening remarks, and I ordered them as five basic theses each paired with its own corollary. To wit:
Thesis 1: Our world belongs to God. Corol. God’s world belongs to us.
Thesis 2: Humans have a unique stewardship responsibility. Corol. Humanity is of unique significance in the world.
Thesis 3: Stewardship involves being productive. Corol. A clean environment is a costly good (cf. Cornwall Declaration).
Thesis 4: Economic and environmental stewardship, rightly understood, are not fundamentally opposed. Corol. Short-termism is the enemy.
Thesis 5: Good stewardship of fossil fuels is the key environmental challenge today. Corol. Nuclear has to be part of the solution for transcending fossil fuels.
A fair and honest debate about religious responses to environmental issues should always distinguish theological principles from prudential judgments.nt.