First, I realize that I am arguing from and not to my worldview. In this essay I will be starting with presumptions that are dependent on arguments elsewhere, but arguments not primarily concerned with the topic at hand. In short, I will be assuming the biblical view that God is our creator is a correct view, and the neo-Darwinian view is false. While you might wish to argue these points elsewhere, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume this to be true so that we might explore the implications.
In this model, our job as humans is not as some assume, but is as the Biblical account describes. As we established in the last post, we are not creatures set our to ensure our own survival, but we are stewards of a Higher Being. While I am not out to defend my worldview, I do wish to talk about the implications and irony I see arising from how we Christians live in light (or in spite) of our (broadly) accepted history.
By accepted history, I am not referring to the common discussions of creation, discussions that surround how God created. I am merely working under the assumption that God placed us here and gave us a task, an assumption that I think includes all stripes of Orthodox belief. The details are for another discussion somewhere else. In other words, this is not a normal Creation discussion. I am not concerned at this moment as to how God brought this all to be, nor am I concerned in defending the fact that He did so.
Instead, my concern is to discuss our priorities if we believe God created us and we did not coalesce by chance. This is a chance to reflect upon our priorities as we reflect on who we are and who we have been called to be. So, to illustrate my big point, we will be considering two groups, those who believe we were brought to be without any intelligent purpose, and those who believe quite the opposite and the assumptions each holds about our purpose in light of such origins. The big ah-ha, at least for me, comes in considering how each of these groups now live in light of what they believe.
In the neo-Darwinian model of primeval human history, our ancestors might not concern themselves with conservation of resources. Instead, they would often move from area-to-area until resources were no longer available. As hunters, our ancestors were sometimes responsible, as other predators are, for moving another species from one area to another. They impacted life without any other concern other than survival, their primal occupation. In other words, ecological footprint was not a concern for our ancestors in this model, even while they were indeed having an impact on the environment, especially once they figured out farming.
Now, I am not calling into question the moral character of these theorized beings. Merely, I am suggesting that, if these creatures happen to be our ancestors, then our first occupation was not Creation care. Other needs pressed harder than an introspective look by the creature concerning his/her choices’ affect upon the environment. In this case, the issue would be, at least for them, amoral.
On the other hand, in the Judeo-Christian model of human history, our ancestors would indeed concern themselves with the conservation of the habitat around them. This was not because of some innate human knowledge developed over generations of existence, but was a revealed revelation of our duties from our Creator at the outset. In other words, this was a relational issue. We related with God in that we followed His beckoning to care for the world given us. As commissioned gardeners, our ancestors were responsible for the care of other species and the habitat they lived in.
I am here suggesting that morality played heavily into this situation. Our ancestors were supposed to concern themselves with the outward care of Creation and were asked merely to discipline themselves to not indulge in one selfish act. If these beings happened to be our first ancestors, then our first occupation was Creation care. This was our duty.
Is it not ironic then how these two groups of people with completely different views of origin talk about and treat the physical world around us today? Is it not ironic that the news sources we automatically find ourselves agreeing with over those we think are propaganda? Although we American Christians by-and-large no longer concern ourselves with Creation care, (Creation now being called “the environment” and caring now being referred to as “going green.”), we, at least many of us, argue until we are blue in the face that our environment is just fine, and that humans do not really impact the Creation in any real way, for good or bad.
And with that statement I can assume that many Christians reading this feel their blood pressure rising and their butts squirming in their seats. Why do I assume this? Because my prejudices have almost kept me from writing this, and I know that, as a culture, American Christians often share these same prejudices.
I am not going to get political, because this really has nothing to do with politics, not primarily at least, and we all need to keep this in mind. Environmental concern has become an easy way to gauge what “side” another person is on politically, and, in fear of being misunderstood; some people avoid the concern just in case they might be misunderstood and labeled “liberal.” Gasp! To show my hand, and contrary to what you might assume by reading what you have so far, I am conservative, but I will not allow labels to keep me from facing my own responsibilities, whatever they may be.
Certainly, this discussion has political implications, but our thoughts should not begin there, and I want to speak to where we find our priorities for this discussion. We often assume our priorities lie in the political sphere, but we owe our allegiance first to our Creator over our political parties. Thus, we should think first from our primary calling, and if you are a Christian, your primary calling is to be a disciple. How is a disciple supposed to treat creation? With contempt…or care? Historically, at very least, we are to care.
Here is the deep irony in all of this: The neo-Darwinian who sees his/her existence as coming from an unintelligent happenstance in which his ancestor came to be having no moral understanding for his/her responsibility to our Earth is the very one who is crying out against ecological crimes. (I realize that this is not completely uncharacteristic and still has its roots in the self-centered calling of survival. To continue the race, we must, according to the neo-Darwinian, ensure an inhabitable environment)
On the other hand, the Christian who sees his/her existence as coming from a Loving Creator who is the Master of Creation that has appointed us to the care of what is His, is the same person who turns his or her back on any ecological concern for fear of being labeled at best and fear of having his possessions threatened at worst. This is very uncharacteristic, is it not?
We are, at our roots, called to be selfless, yet all our concern with talk about environment is, “Don’t tell me what I can and cannot do, what I can and cannot buy, what I can and cannot do with the land around me.” Defending our rights is not evil, but it should not consume our thoughts and should not urge us to turn a blind eye on evidences and concerns of others.
Do not misunderstand, I think a lot of well intentioned Christians are trying to honor God in all they do, and they try to honor God by trusting that He is in control, but that does not mean that we no longer have responsibility, or that nothing bad can really happen. This is simply not how God orders His world. He still allows for real consequence. While we might not wish to get caught up in all the spin and hype about the environment, can we not then offer our own, perhaps better thought out conclusions?
And for further clarity, I am not suggesting that Christians should simply lay down our arms and go and join the liberal agenda. When our concern for the care of something comes from two very different points of view, it will be impossible to be in full agreement. It does not mean some agreements can be made, but it means our overall solution will not look the same. What will our solution look like? I am not sure, but I urge each of you to get involved in thinking about better caring for what God has given us.