There’s a big difference between Christian stewardship and today’s neo-pagan environmentalism
Christians are taught to regard the natural world as belonging to God. Their twofold role as stewards of God’s creation is to use the earth’s resources to sustain and enhance human life and by doing so, to give glory to the Creator of all.
Human beings were given dominion over the natural world even before they were created themselves when God said:
“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”(Gen. 1:26-28).
Because mankind is made in God’s own image, human beings are to subdue the earth, but as stewards who are accountable for how they use these gifts from their Creator. They are caretakers, not despots. People cannot just trash the planet as they please, but must use its resources judiciously and preserve them for future generations.
Stewardship is totally different philosophically from the environmentalism currently practiced in the West, which has veered far from the Christian idea of stewardship into a form of nature worship. In this worldview, the Earth Goddess Gaia is seen as the ultimate life-giver, not God. And instead of being put in charge of the natural world, humans are often seen as a form of “cancer” upon it.
Acknowledgement that there is a Creator automatically puts humans in a subservient position to God, not to anything that He has created. On the other hand, environmentalism rejects the Christian idea of stewardship in favor of a worldview that posits that human welfare should be subservient to the natural world.
There are a number of logical contradictions in this view.
One is that while most environmentalists view humans as nothing more than products of evolution, they nonetheless still expect humans – and only humans – to behave as though they also have moral agency. Animals are not expected to care about how their actions affect the natural world because they are part of it. Only humans are singled out for shame if they violate environmental commandments.
But if humans are nothing more than intelligent animals themselves, they are just as much a part of nature as apes, wolves, fish and birds who are driven by instinct and physical needs, not moral or spiritual principles.
Which is it? Are we humans ensouled bodies made in the image and likeness of God as Christians maintain, or are we just animals with larger brains and opposable thumbs? If we are ensouled bodies, then we are morally responsible for managing the environment. If not, we cannot be held responsible for doing what any other animals do: manipulate it for our own needs and survival without taking the impact of our actions on others into account.
human beings are the stewards of the earth, not its subordinate
Christian stewardship requires humans to conserve and protect the natural world and treat animals humanely while at the same time attending to their own physical needs. It’s a balance. Environmentalists, being homo sapiens themselves, are the beneficiaries of any human intervention into the natural world, from medicines to modern dwellings and modes of transportation.
If human beings are a “cancer,” and these life- and energy-saving advancements are killing the planet, it is hypocritical for environmentalists to take full advantage of them even as they are denouncing them. But we all know people espousing this belief who nonetheless avail themselves of all the conveniences of modern life, including airplanes, cars, air conditioning, and cheap electricity that are supposedly “killing the planet.”
Shouldn’t the people who actually believe this be the very first to set a good example by refusing to use these technological innovations? Flying off to Paris for international climate gabfests should be totally off-limits for these folks, but it clearly isn’t. The very fact that they do not practice what they preach is a huge red flag that they don’t actually believe the nonsense that humans are killing the earth.
The second contradiction environmentalist have is that they chose “carbon” as the source of the fatal pollution that will soon, in their telling, turn the planet into an overheated rock incapable of sustaining life. But anybody who has taken biology in high school knows that all life on earth, humans included, are carbon-based. We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, which is then used by plants to produce more oxygen.
This beautiful symbiosis, which was created by God to sustain the earth and its inhabitants, has been perverted by environmentalists wielding nothing more than computer models to predict that anything that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is potentially lethal to life. But observable facts on the ground show that high levels of carbon dioxide have in reality resulted in the greening of the planet.
“Greening of the Earth and its drivers,” a NASA study published in Nature Climate Change in 2019, concluded that rising carbon dioxide levels have resulted in a 25 to 50 percent increase in plant life across the globe. Carbon dioxide is a natural part of the life cycle for plants as well as humans and animals. Contrary to the Supreme Court (which has been spectacularly wrong before), it is plant food – not pollution. Farmers pump CO2 into their greenhouses to increase their yield.
Isn’t more greening exactly what environmentalists want? If you judge them by their actions instead of their words, no, they don’t.
That’s because this is not really about science or the environment. It’s a religious war between Christian believers in the Triune God and the neo-pagan followers of the goddess Gaia.
And we all know how that will ultimately end.
2 thoughts on “Serving God … or Gaia?”
Excellent article, Virginia!