Things we have in common
The Bible says that we were made from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7 )
Secular thinking says that we were made from the dust of the earth; ie. that living
matter sprang somehow from unliving matter.
The Bible says that we are to care for the earth. Adam and Eve are told to work the earth and take care of it (Genesis 3:15)
Environmentalists of all stripes believe that we should take better care of the earth.
The critical point on which we differ
The Bible says that God breathed into man the breath of life and he became a living person, in the image of God (Genesis 2:7, 1:27)
Secular doctrine says that we are really just some variety of animal, and that the differences between animals and humans is one of degree, not some inherent difference, which would include a soul that animals do not possess.
Most Christians don’t deny that taxonomically, humans are animals- mammals, primates. Some Christians believe that God even chose to use evolution as the mechanism of creation. That is not what we are debating. This key issue in this post is that the God-breathed soul of humans makes us distinctly different from the rest of the living world.
If we accept the above points then the command is for Christians: We are assigned to be the caretakers of the planet.
Humans DO have an intrinsically higher value than the rest of creation. This is not to say that we have free reign to do as we please. But it does dictate that at a basic level, if faced with a choice to save a baby or a puppy from a burning building, the choice should be the baby. This seems quite clear at that level, but things get muddied when the crisis is not so primal. Should we send money to help flood victims or to protect habitat for the white rhinoceros, or both? Doesn’t protecting the rainforest from being destroyed ultimately protect the planet and many babies? I’m not answering those questions here, just posing some of the dilemmas.
If we believe that we are simply an interesting species of animal who happens to appear more self-aware, and has managed to excel in the use of technology because we have thumbs, then there really is no logical basis for picking the baby over the puppy. We might as well save the whales and not worry about aborted fetuses. The logic that says, “we have too few whales and way too many humans,” is just fine.
But Christians believe that humans do have a higher value than soil, air, plants and animals, in God’s eyes, and should therefore have a higher value to us as well. That said, we are certainly not off the hook as to caring for the rest of creation. More on that in future posts. Much more!