Emmy Janssen understands the mechanics of nuclear fission. As a physics student at Freie Universität Berlin, she says the math can be challenging, but she loves the way her studies let her wrestle with what she calls “the depth and breadth of God’s created cosmos.”
But she is not so sure, as a Christian, she understands her ethical responsibilities. She wonders about “our role as God’s children, bringing nuclear power into the world in the first place.”
Janssen is not the only one. Across the country, German evangelicals are weighing the ethics of nuclear power.
The government is set to decommission its last three nuclear reactors by the end of 2022. Shutting down Isar 2, Emsland, and Neckarwestheim 2 will complete the county’s Atomausstieg, or “nuclear power phase-out,” and conclude a generation of political debates. But the debates, like radioactive particles, have a half-life, and evangelicals in Germany are still discussing the problems of waste, the risks of catastrophic accidents, and the potential benefits of nuclear power.
Deciding on a Christian position is not as easy as turning on the lights.
“There are indifferent people. There are people who are deeply convinced nuclear energy is dirty and dangerous. There are those who see it as a possibility for protecting the planet and developing cleaner energy,” said Matthias Boehning, director of the World Evangelical Alliance’s Sustainability Center in Bonn.
Some of the differences appear to be generational. Older evangelical views have been shaped by both Cold War history, when the US and the USSR planned out nuclear attacks and counterattacks, and—of even greater concern—by the memory ...1
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