When God created the first humans, He gave them charge over the Garden of Eden to care for the animals and plants that were there (Genesis 2:15). It was a perfect world with no sin or death, but God still put Adam there to tend what He had made. This is highly instructive to all Christians. After all, if God placed Adam there to care for a perfect world prior to the Fall, how much more should we care for this fallen one?
And that’s something that we should recognize: Christians have the best foundation to justify caring for this planet—a direct mandate from the One who made it. Evolutionary naturalists do not understand the past or the future the way God intended and can offer only arbitrary reasons for being environmentally responsible—reasons which are self-contradicting, in fact.
To truly celebrate Earth Day in a way that glorifies the One who made it, let’s take a look at two of the popular reasons that the world tells us we need to “go green,” and then we’ll look at why the Bible gives us a better foundation for being good stewards.
Many non-Christians instruct us that we must care for the planet. However, their reasons for doing so often lack any real justification when placed under scrutiny. Here are two of the most popular:
According to evolutionist E.O. Wilson, the reason we should care for this planet is because we have an intense self interest:
It follows that human self-interest is best served by not overly harming the other life forms on Earth that still survive.1
In other words, the main reason we should care for the planet is so that we can survive. But in an evolutionary worldview, what’s the point? Humans are nothing more than another evolved organism. If we die off, something else will take our place. Even the destruction of the entire planet has no moral value other than in the subjective opinion of some. After all, humans have no more worth than dirt—if we accept atheism—and a burned-out planet is no “worse” than a fruitful one. It just is what it is.
Beyond this, according to the evolutionary story of history, the pressures that humans are exerting upon the planet and animal life should simply cause life to evolve to survive. Whatever doesn’t survive was simply not fit enough. If this is the process that worked in the past, then what makes human-caused changes any different than animal predation or natural disasters? Once we allow that human actions are different somehow, then we’ve associated moral value to them, which is illogical in a purely naturalistic worldview; after all, morals themselves have supposedly evolved because of the very environmental pressures that evolutionists are disparaging.
One of the most common refrains about the environment from the news media goes something like this: [insert disaster here] is coming if we don’t stop [insert bad thing some scientists claim we’re doing to destroy the earth]. Recently, most of these reports are somehow tied into global warming.
While some of the evidence suggests that the earth has warmed recently (see sidebar for information), many scientists build their conclusions upon a faulty view of earth’s history. If we start with the Bible, we know how old the earth truly is, what happened in history (e.g., the global Flood, the one Ice Age), and what will happen in the future (Revelation 21–22). God is in control and reminds us in His Word not to be afraid of what tomorrow will bring (Matthew 6:34). Far from being an excuse to abuse the world, this is the real justification to take care of it—without resorting to scare tactics and exaggerations of the data.
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In fact, the alarmist claims of global warming are counterproductive because they establish a political environment in which scientists showing problems with the currently accepted models are often vilified. This detracts from the main point and makes the “fight” the focus. Starting from the Bible and the history recorded there, we should care for the planet as God intended without living in fear over whether there is global warming or cooling (as some have suggested recently2).
Humans are created in the image of God and are not like any other creation. We were told to use the resources that we have been given and to multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28). However, we must also understand that the world now groans from the effects of sin (Romans 8:22). Only God can restore the earth, but the fallen nature and the promise of restoration are not excuses to ignore the very first task that God gave humanity in Genesis 2:15. Subduing—being a steward—means that no matter the state that creation is in, we are here to use the resources responsibly and to take care of God’s handiwork.3
God’s Word gives us a number of reasons why we have an obligation to care for creation. However, the two most important and foundational revolve around Jesus’s response concerning the greatest commandment.
According to Jesus, the greatest of all the commandments is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:29–30). If we really love God, that means taking care of the things He has given us—our lives, the hope that we have, and this planet. According to the Bible, the earth belongs completely to God (Psalm 24:1; Acts 7:49). We are merely caretakers who are accountable to perform this task.
Jesus added that the second greatest commandment is like the first—love others as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). Obviously, the most important way that a Christian loves other humans is by sharing the message of salvation and providing for them. But it’s just as important for us to consider how our actions will impact others. If we are consciously acting in a way that could harm the earth, that impacts others around the world and future generations (including our own children). Christ as the Good Shepherd is our example for showing sacrificial love to others.
Caring for the earth should never be a cause célèbre (as it sadly has become). The command God gave us in Genesis 2 was given for all humanity through Adam. This world is God’s, and we have a responsibility to do all things (including taking care of His property) as if we were doing it for Him (Colossians 3:17). Sadly, we Christians have not always heeded this.
The atheistic evolutionary worldview can provide no real foundation for taking care of the earth. Life has no more value than non-life—other than the selfish desire to live. When evolutionists speak out about saving the planet, perhaps we should ask them what difference it makes. Without God, our planet is nothing more than another chunk of space dirt destined to be absorbed by the sun one day. No matter what we do, there is no ultimate hope.
With God, however, our planet is the focus of His love, and our future can be secure.
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