Friday, October 19, 2007

How to think like a Christian about the Environment

The environment is getting a bad rap lately. There are many scientists who are telling us that the earth is getting too hot. This warm-up, so we are told, is being caused by the careless attitude of humans toward it. Humans, it seems, use up resources and create what are called green house gasses. These gasses, human exhaust, if you like, are causing the whole planet to get too hot. This heat will result in the melting of glaciers and ice caps and ultimately the destruction of the world as we know it.

The problem with this theory is that there are also scientists who claim that even though the earth is getting warmer, it is a natural process and nothing to be alarmed about. These scientists believe that humans are not responsible for the warming, but that there is a natural fluctuation in the earth's temperature from year to year and from century to century. This certainly would make me feel better about myself and my impact on the future of humanity, but who can I believe? Does it matter?

First of all, I am not a scientist. What I know about science and/or global warming I could write in uppercase letters on a postage stamp. However, I know that I like living on this planet. I do not know if it is getting warmer, but how much affect will it have to pay attention? Will I really notice if I drive less, or in a smaller car? What if I turn off the lights when I am not in the room? Will it really be that big of a deal?

Secondly, I think that much of the posturing and politicking about global warming is just that; posturing and politicking. Scientists and universities on both sides of the issue are angling for grants and government funding, not so much to save the world, but to make a few dollars. I know that this is a pretty cynical view, but I believe that it is not far off the mark.

Finally, I know what the Bible says about the environment. God made everything that exists. This includes all the plants, animals, planets and stars. He made them so that humans, you and I, can enjoy them. He provided them so that we would have meat, fruit and grain to eat and clothes to wear. He made this planet so that humanity could be sustained.

But God also gave humans responsibility in this created order. You and I are responsible to care for the world and all that is in it. We are to use the resources that God provides, yes. But we are never to misuse or overuse them. People are responsible to tend the garden, to name the animals and to subdue creation. There is a very strong element of care in each if these biblical instructions.

The world is ours. We can use it up and throw it away, or we can fulfill God's purposes for it. Which will it be?

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