Ecology: Our Place in God's Creation
The media today is full of warnings about "global warming" and one of the reasons for this warming often proposed by its adherents is that Man is somehow to blame for all the ills that the earth is suffering. Somehow, by his very presence, Man pollutes and destroys the ecosystem. One person even expressed it that "Man infests the earth," as if Man were a deadly disease. Darwin is often cited as a basis for these beliefs. On another front, the belief is that the earth must somehow be kept exactly as it is at this moment in time, and that any deviation of temperature, rainfall, land mass, vegetation, animal population, either up or down, calls for a massive and combined effort to "restore" the earth to whatever was chosen as the starting point. All of these assumptions are based on the evolutionary model and can only lead to failure and despair. Man is a very small cog in a very large universe and nothing he does lasts for long.
The first assumption is that the Earth is a product of time and chance, without a purpose or real meaning. The Bible has a different view. In Genesis 1:1, we are told that "In the beginning, God created Heaven and Earth." Creation by a purposeful Being implied that the Earth itself had a purpose. As God's creation, the Earth belongs to God, and its beauty and complexity glorify Him. A second purpose was to provide a home for Man, and as such, the Earth is uniquely designed to meet Man's needs. Today's astronomers have recently begun to discover planets circling the distant stars. Not one of those planets, or even any of the other eight (I call Pluto a planet in defiance of popular parlance) in our own solar system could sustain human life as we know it. Not one of those planets so far has the unique combination of position, size, temperature, and structure that human beings require. The Earth is one of a kind.
The second assumption is that Man is an accident of time and chance as well, again without purpose or meaning. Again the Bible has a different view. First, human beings were created to fellowship with God, which is why we have free will and are not mindless robots or puppets. God took the harder path of allowing Man to choose Him. Unfortunately, for Man, he chose wrongly and twisted his relationship to God, to other Men, and to the Earth itself. Man's original purpose was to care for the Earth. For example, Adam and Eve were put into the Garden of Eden to dress it. What type of work this was is unclear, but the implication is not. Adam had the responsibility to take care of the garden. Later, after the Fall and the flood of Noah, all animals and plants were given to Man for food and his use. This then is the position: God created the Earth and then in a sense deeded it to Man as his possession. This idea of ownership is where Man gets into trouble. Ownership implies responsible use, not exploitation just because the owner can. For the Earth to sustain Man and fulfill its purpose, Man must care for it. This includes a judicious use of all natural resources, careful application of certain farming, hunting, and fishing practices, and a concerted effort to replace what is used. There is a practical reason for this. For example, if today we plant a tree for every tree we cut down, there will be trees to cut tomorrow and for future generations.
Lastly, the assumption that the Earth must somehow be maintained as it is at this very moment in time is also false. The Earth is not a static system. It is a dynamic one that renew itself and adjusts to changing conditions constantly. When Mount St. Helena erupted, a natural disaster Man could neither have caused nor prevented, the land around it was laid waste. When people came in to clean up the mess, they left a portion to see what untouched nature would do. To their surprise, this area restored itself almost as quickly as the area they were working on, and at far less cost. The shoreline erodes at one place and builds up at another. Man might find both erosion and silting up annoying, but they are both part of a dynamic system that maintains the Earth in a kind of stasis or balance.
This, then is the position I personally take, based on Biblical and practical principles. One, the Earth was created by God for my use and to sustain me. Two, I have a responsibility to care for the Earth and to use its resources in a way that it can continue to function. Three, as a responsible human being, I should look for ways to help the Earth maintain its balance and to live within the changing dynamics. Fourth, I have a responsibility to prevent wanton destruction of resources without renewing them or allowing them to renew themselves. And, lastly, I must recognize that there are things within this dynamic system that I can have no control over, that I can neither cause nor prevent them, but must learn to live in a way that takes them into account.
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