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Evangelist, Scientist Discuss Climate

By Carola A. Cintron-arroyo, Crimson Staff Writer

A Nobel-prize winning scientist and a former lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals shared the stage at the Harvard Divinity School last night to call for cooperation between scientists and evangelicals on the issue of global climate change.

Eric S. Chivian ’64, the director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, and Reverend Richard Cizik, spoke of their environmental activism in a discussion titled “God and Global Warming: Scientists’ and Evangelicals’ Common Voice.”

Chivian and Cizik founded the Scientists and Evangelicals Initiative, a joint effort between the NAE and the Center for Health and the Global Environment, in the fall of 2006 after making a week-long trip to Alaska with leading scientists and evangelicals. During their trip, Chivian and Cizik said they discovered common ground after witnessing the effects of climate change on local populations, the land, and the ocean.

“There is no such thing as a liberal or conservative environment, or a secular or religious one,” Chivian said. “We all deeply felt that it was sacred and we had to protect it.”

At the Alaskan retreat, the scientists and evangelicals signed a document— “Urgent Call to Action: Scientists and Evangelical Unite To Protect Creation”— and since then, Chivian and Cizik have been traveling the country to plead for unity in the fight against global climate change.

Chivian stressed that global climate change was more than just an environmental issue.

“Many people do not realize that climate change is a public health problem,” Chivian said. “Human beings are an inseparable part of nature. The disconnect that people feel with the natural world lies underneath their indifference to global warming.”

Cizik cited what he called “an illogical syllogism” as the cause of ignorance in the evangelical community.

“We reject evolution and so we reject what the scientists say about the climate.”

Katherine C. Wilson ’10, a joint concentrator in History and Science and the Comparative Study of Religion who attended the talk, said that discourse between religion and science is significant because it may lead to the opportunity to render environmentalism nonpolitical.

Wilson said that she felt it was important to encourage evangelicals to realize that climate change is a grave issue and to bring that message back to their congregations.

—Staff writer Carola A. Cintron-Arroyo can be reached at ccintron@fas.harvard.edu.

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