If you've been following Michael and my conversations so far, you know to expect thoughtful, considerate conversation coming from different perspectives. Each time we find deeper understanding, share more, and listen more. You won't be disappointed this time. In this episode we talk about concepts from the book The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels and the philosophy behind it. Since I've started reading the Christian Bible, we talk about Romans and Philippians a bit too. Despite our different backgrounds and views about the universe, we agree on many ways we believe we can improve the world.
This conversation was one of the most fascinating I've had. I couldn't have had it when I was younger. Michael and I are learning each other's world view regarding population, our innate drives, how we create or deplete resources, and related topics. We both agree we want many humans prospering. Our world views differ in what creates the resources we need to live: more humans to create the resources or fewer humans to keep from depleting them. As a result, we each see the strategy the other promotes as grave threats to the mission we agree on: human flourishing. What makes the conversation fascinating and one I couldn't have had before is that we aren't arguing or fighting. We're listening and learning. We start by talking about habits, discipline, virtue, and aligning priorities. I think you'll like this fifth installment of our conversations.
Michael is becoming a regular. Would I have expected an extended conversation with a doctoral candidate at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary when I started? I don't think so, and I don't think many environmentalists engage with evangelicals and conservatives. I think you'll hear genuine friendship, mutual respect, and mutual desire to learn from each other. I think you'll hear actual learning. In this episode we took on a topic we expected to disagree on: population. This time I asked more questions, learning his views and the views of scripture he follows, though I shared my views too. What does the Bible have to say about population? Where do we agree or disagree? What common ground is there, if any, and what can we do about it?
Michael shares about avoiding using a smart phone, or at least using a minimally functional smart phone. Do you remember what life was like without yours? What does solitude mean to you? How much time do you spend on a smart phone? Would you like to reduce it? What would you do instead? What are we missing? How about emotion, love, freedom, and joy? He talks about the irony spending money to help us handle our addiction to those who cause the addiction. It sounds like doof. We talk about addiction, our purposes, and being distracted from them. The above is the starting point of what life is about when not distracted all the time: freedom, family, community, our values, and understanding those things. You'll also hear scripture quoted joyfully than in most conversations. If you've considered a digital fast, I recommend listening as motivation to do it.
Nearly everyone I talk to who works on conservation or would call themselves an environmentalist or something like it treats American conservatives and evangelicals as adversaries, lost causes, hurdles, or even the enemy. They love Katharine Hayhoe for being on their side while also practicing a Texas-friendly version of Christianity. They figure she'll fix them for them. (We're scheduling her appearing on this podcast, if you're wondering). What do conservatives and evangelicals believe? If you're so right, why don't they agree? Do you believe they're stupid, ignorant, gullible, greedy, or what? I don't think I've heard anyone talking about them from a place of understanding. I only hear them treated as caricatures with beliefs and motivations they only see as wrong, backward, or ignorant. I never hear them describe their beliefs as reasonable or grounded in something understandable. Frankly, I'm only starting to learn, but I don't believe they're stupid, ignorant, gullible, or greedy. Michael is only speaking for himself, but he's getting an advanced degree at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, training to become a Pastor. He worked and studied hard to reach that level and has devoted his life to it. He's knowledgeable, connected, passionate, and studied. In this conversation we continue learning about each other. Well I can only speak for myself, that I'm learning from him. I think he's learning from me. My views and goals tend to be subtly different than nearly anyone expects than mainstream environmental views. In this regard he may understand me better since I see values, beliefs, and behavior as the problem. Most environmental people focus on laws, technology, markets, and extrinsic things. I look at intrinsic. They look to study and recount. I look to act and inspire. Michael and I talk about faith, hope, belief, and more.
Michael begins by describing himself as a Protestant evangelical conservative PhD candidate at one of the largest and oldest Baptist seminaries, what that description means, and what experience and choices brought him there. These experiences were meaningful and his choices deliberate and considered. We talk about scripture, family, faith, hope, the environment, modern culture, sin, gluttony, and more. In my experience people who work on the environment disengage or oppose conservative religious views. My experience in engaging with them keeps making me want to learn more about their views. Some I expect and know, others surprise me. Michael also asks about my views and why I choose as I do around sustainability and stewardship. His question are basic ones I think people would like to know, but slightly different than I'm used to hearing. He then interprets them from a Christian perspective, which I can learn from.