Ideas, rants and raves, with emphasis on Science, Politics, Personal Growth and Finance

Answers NOT in Genesis #1: “Christian” Environmentalism

Posted by The Lukester on December 14, 2005

Every once in a while, for yucks, I browse the Christian fundamentalist site Answers in Genesis. I have a morbid curiosity to see how generally smart people tie themselves into knots trying to crowbar a biblical interpretation into the Real World – trying to reconcile scientific facts with biblical contradictions and their political goals (the latter seems to dominate). Take, for one mild example, this article on environmentalism, “‘Earth Day’ — a Christian perspective.”

Here’s a snippet:

While it is laudable to see humans exercising their God-ordained responsibility to care for the creation (Genesis 1:26–28), the above quotes show the prevailing view on environmental issues is skewed, as a proper Biblical foundation is lacking.

First, the fate of the planet is, ultimately, not in the hands of mankind. While humans are responsible for caring for the Earth (as per the ‘Dominion mandate’ in Genesis 1:26–28), we are not in control of the Earth. Rather it belongs to the Creator Himself (Psalm 24:1), who has made us His earthly stewards.

OK, we don’t own the Earth or are in control of it, but are God’s “earthly stewards”. I’m not convinced by the ‘not really our responsibility’ rhetoric (it’s amazing what you can get away with when you preface a statement with “ultimately”), but so far so good. Then begins a whole series of convoluted efforts to be anti-environmentalist without directly saying so. Notice that these folks have NO trouble injecting their interpretations and views into everything and everyone – individual, business, science, home, school district, courtroom – around them, but here, where environmentalism follows very nicely from religious values, suddenly it’s none of our business:

… the fate of the living planet is not the most important issue facing mankind. Ultimately, this decaying system will be replaced with a New Heavens and Earth anyway (Romans 8:20–22, 2 Peter 3:13, Revelation 21:1, Hebrews 1:10–12). Rather, the most important issue facing mankind is: will the individual choose to acknowledge his Creator and be reconciled to Him? Romans 1:20

So here’s God. He makes a wonderful planet. He also makes some people and puts those people in charge of the planet (not as owners but as stewards) and of the resident plants and animals. A lot of time goes by, and those people believe they’re going to have to move out pretty soon, into nicer digs. So what do they do? According to this Christian site, it’s fine to burn up the forests, pollute the oceans, trash the land and poison the air. Not because the bible says to but because a feeble case can be argued that the bible doesn’t say not to do it. If I were landlord and my tenants treated my property like this before moving out, I would NOT be a happy camper. Neither would the tenants, after I was done with them.

I prefer pragmatic interpretations over legalistic ones. If the most important document ever, written by the person who created me and everything around me, says that my job here is to be a steward, then I would think it’s reasonable to give that creator the benefit of a doubt and consider acting like a steward. Just in case.


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