Monday, August 13, 2012

A Biblical Environmentalism

I read an article today that some environmentalists wanted to do away with a dam in order to bring back wildlife that had been wiped out a hundred years before in order to give drinking water to the San Francisco area. This similar story, of course, is familiar to most. California was recently plagued by a group that eventually got the government to shut down canals that were the life's blood of crops that feed numerous people around the country, but were threatening a particular species of fish.

Now, let me just say that every Christian should be an environmentalist. I often don't understand the evangelical war on global warming. Yes, from what I've seen, it's probably not the greatest of science; but as I say to everyone, "Even if the science is faulty, is it really that bad to convince people to put less polution in our air?" I mean, I don't think tricking people into doing it is that great, but even if the data is wrong, isn't it a good thing to clean up the air and get poisonous chemicals out of our lungs and lives?

But here's where many environmentalists go wrong. Biblical environmentalism is about us, not the planet. God made the planet for us. He made it for our well-being. So we should take care of it for that reason. We need to cultivate and grow the garden so that it continues to exist as a livable environment for human life and flourishing. When, therefore, environmentalism works against human life and preservation, it becomes a means of chaos rather than creation. And as the people of God, our duty as image bearers is to have an environmentalism that works toward human creation, not against it.

Hence, when you have lunatics who exalt the creation over the Creator and His purposes to fill up the earth with humans, argue that it would be better for humans to be exterminated because the planet would thrive, you are dealing with one who is working against creation, not for it.

This may be hard to hear for some, but humans are actually meant to be the dominant species on the planet. God made them to be just that. And what that means is that when we multiply, we're going to take over areas that were once dominated by another dominant species, and therefore, render them useless, and often, extinct. It may be that dinosaurs existed to care for their respective environments until other species that could be dominated by humans showed up. Who knows?

But it is clear that humans are to subdue and rule over the earth as a part of their divine role. And they do that by multiplying, not diminishing themselves. In fact, in the Genesis narrative, the animals that they rule over are birds, lower lifeforms of the ground, and fish. Wild animals that would characterize larger predators are not mentioned, as it may be that humans had to wipe them out in order to take over the area as the dominant species.

Notice, however, that the other animals are subjugated by humans fulfilling God's desires. Their lives are subjugated to that destiny. They serve many purposes, but all of them should help man in his role to procreate and preserve human life. When they begin to work against that, as is the case of the situations above, it is then that they have become anticreational moves against God's purposes. Animals are to give their lives for us. We do not give ours for them. That is to serve creation rather than the Creator. Although one should never enjoy having to sacrifice animals, because God cares for each one, He has so chosen to make them and lovingly sacrifice them for our survival and thriving upon the earth. Hence, He cares for every sparrow, but we are worth many sparrows to Him.

There is also a delineation of priorities that serve to negate the idea that one must sacrifice humans today in order to thwart what might only theoretically occur in the future to other humans. God tells us to look to today and do what is right within it. We should never do things that destroy the environment for future generations of humans for no good reason but greed and gluttony; but survival today takes precedence over what may only possibly occur in the future. We need to also understand that God is in control of creation and can replenish and restore what may have been necesssary for us to take from it in order to obey Him by performing the creation mandate and filling up and preserving human life upon the earth.

What this means is that the dam stays. The fish are sacrificed. And humans should lock up in mental wards people threatening to wipe out humanity "for the environment's sake." People who destroy the earth for reasons other than the creation mandate are apathetic towards God's sacrifices, self exalting, and are to be placed in the category of all those who work as chaotic agents to reverse human creation.

And that, perhaps, is the great irony. The radical environmentalist who wants to sacrifice human life and preservation to save the environment and the guy who just litters the ground and fills the air with chemicals in order to make more money are two sides of the same coin. They both work against God's purposes in creation, and so they both function as anticreational agents who disregard what is beneficial for human life.

The task of the believer is to work toward human life and preservation in all things, leading up to and pointing back to the gospel that accomplishes this par excellence. We seek to co-create and preserve humanity, and thus, we should be the best environmentalists there are.

God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Gen 1:28)

Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it. (Gen 2:15)

"And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth." (Rev 11:18)

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