Creation 2.0: The Creation as Environment

If we think of the Creation as God’s temple — a temple polluted by sin that’s in the process of being restored — we can’t help but see implications for environmentalism.

Now, it’s a sad, sad commentary on the contemporary church that our views on the environment — on God’s handiwork
— are often set more by the political platforms of the Republican and Democratic Parties than the Bible.

Therefore, as we enter this study, you have to set aside all thoughts of Rush Limbaugh, Al Gore, and such. This simply isn’t about which party is right. Indeed, American Christians are all too ready to sell their churches into slavery, to become a special interest group within one party or the other, all in hopes that the next presidential election will bring redemption and salvation.

But it won’t. I’ve met our politicians, and some are very fine people. Not a single one is Jesus. And salvation is found in Jesus, not the American political system.

Young people tend to think of themselves as the first generation that cares about the earth, but that’s wrong. I’m a Baby Boomer. Born in 1954. And  I remember what America was like before the environment was cleaned up.

In the 1960s, my parents took us on a vacation to St. Louis. We stayed on the 5th floor of hotel. And the pollution was so bad in the mornings that we literally could not see the ground from our hotel windows in the early morning.

I grew up in a town of 7,000 people. We had an aluminum reduction plant, and woke up each morning to a fine powder of aluminum salts on everything. And the local chicken-processing plant … well, just pray the wind was blowing the other way.

And all this was cleaned up many years ago. You see, the Environmental Protection Agency was proposed and established by President Richard Nixon. Yes, the disgraced, Republican president founded the EPA. (This is not to defend Republican environmental policies. I find both parties to be far more about catering to their bases than offering any real leadership in this area.)

Back then, environmentalism wasn’t really a partisan issue. Everyone wanted the mess cleaned up, and both parties supported clean air and clean water.

You see, it was the generation before me — people the age of my parents — who began the monumental task of cleaning up the environment. Of course, it was generations even older than that who, beginning with President Theodore Roosevelt, founded national parks to preserve parts of the nation.

In short, environmentalism is not new and shouldn’t be either partisan or divide the generations. We may disagree about particulars —  just how much to preserve and how to balance the need for jobs and industry against the pollution these things bring — but all sides should and largely do favor preservation and clean air and water.

The Scriptures speak plainly on the subject.

(Gen 1:26 NAS)  26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Mankind, as priest-kings in the image of God himself, are charged to rule over the Creation on behalf of God. We are caretakers of God’s own Temple. And that plainly implies a duty to protect and preserve the beauty that God has given us — beauty that celebrates God.

(Gen 1:29-30 NAS)  29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;  30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.

However, we are told, the Creation doesn’t just celebrate God. It also sustains man. Indeed, God gave the Creation to man for his sustenance.

The same theme appears in chapter 2 —

(Gen 2:15 NAS)  15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

God plainly charges Adam with the duty to both keep or preserve (shamar) the Creation and to cultivate (abad) it.

Shamar and abad are used in Numbers 3, for example, to refer to the work of the priests in the tabernacle.

(Num 3:8 NAS)  8 “They shall also keep all the furnishings of the tent of meeting, along with the duties of the sons of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.”

These are priestly duties. To cultivate the land — to make it productive for human use — is God’s intent and purpose. But so is guarding and preserving the Creation.

There’s an attitude toward the land common among farmers that we are placed on this earth are caretakers of the land for God. We are not allowed to destroy the land so that future generations may not also enjoy it and live from it. But neither are we required to keep all  the land untouched, and so unavailable to provide food. Rather, we make the land productive without wasting it. We even improve the land by removing rocks, and building terraces, fields, and ponds. It’s been given to us by God to use but to use responsibly.

These observations hardly answer all the environmental issues we face today. I mean, should we preserve and protect ANWR oil field in Alaska? Or work the ground and make it fruitful? The Scriptures don’t speak at that level of detail. But the text does insist that the debate be framed in biblical terms.

This much is clear:

* All Christians should be environmentalists. That hardly means agreeing with every position of the environmental lobby, but it does mean caring deeply about the planet we’ve received from God as a gift and which speaks to us of our Creator.

* The immediate needs of the capitalists are not always going to be the paramount needs. It’s both preserve the Garden and work the Garden. Not one or the other. If we preserve too severely, we’ll starve fellow human beings, and the Garden was made for the support of the man. But if we work the Garden too severely, we’ll fail in our mission of preservation and might still starve fellow human beings. We need this planet to last a long, long time.

* Moreover, the Psalms especially repeatedly speak of the Creation showing forth the glory of God. Destroying the beauty of the Earth destroys its testimony about God. Again, the rule isn’t absolute, as every farm replaces one kind of beauty with another. And we were plainly meant to farm the land.

* Science is a subset of theology. There can be no contradiction. Modern physics, biology, and whatever true science there is will speak to us about God and cannot contradict God’s truth. Indeed, in this view, if a scientist studies the Creation as a Christian, the Spirit will give him understanding of God from studying his gift to us.

* Therefore, our Christian colleges and universities should be on the leading edge of scientific instruction and research, although they are often sadly out of touch with God’s Creation. It’s as though we’re afraid of what we might learn about our God! That’s not much of a faith.

(Psa 104:24-32)  How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.

25 There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number – living things both large and small. 26 There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

27 These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. 28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.

29 When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.

30 When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works – 32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

Verses 27 and 28 remind us that the earth is given to provide us food. Verses 30 and 31 say that God’s work of creating is not over, but rather he continually renews the face of the earth.

Indeed, the entire Psalm extols God’s continuing work in maintaining the earth. Thus, as we do the same, we are truly doing God’s work. He walk with him as we help to heal the planet and bring it closer to Eden.

And this causes God to rejoice (v 31) as the earth becomes new once again.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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8 Responses to Creation 2.0: The Creation as Environment

  1. John says:

    Jay, your stand on preserving the environment deserves an “AMEN”. Your conviction will, hopefully, take root in the hearts of readers who have never considered the problem, even among those who may call themselves progressive. And I do appreciate your effort to be fair in regard to the politics of the problem.

    However, the truth is that sometimes the church does not make a move in a healthy direction until politics gives it a nudge. That was true of the Civil Rights Movement. Many churches, especially in small town and rural south, refused to consider the Civil Rights Movement as legitimate until politics, and the changing surrounding culture, pulled them up, even as they were kicking and screaming. Too many still hold it in disdain. They just do not kick and scream like they once did; at least not in public, only around those who think like them. Still, it is necessary at times for people to feel the expectation to behave for healthy growth to happen.

    Indeed, politics is not the gospel. But is also a fact that many who claim to love the gospel sometimes have to be shamed by politics into practicing it.

  2. Marvin Nichols says:

    Jay and John – Preach on!

  3. Jerry says:

    I remember more than 40 years ago a conversation with a man just coming to faith in God in which he observed that one of the things that convinced him was the very intricacy of how various plants and animals that make up an ecology depend on each other. He saw this as God’s handiwork in forming the ecological environment for each of these to survive. We need to celebrate God’s handiwork, not abuse it – and we need to do this while simultaneously caring for people, for God obviously intends the earth to support the people He has made to live on it.

  4. Alabama John says:

    How you all sound like a gathering of Native Americans talking. WADO!

    One thing pretty obvious on this site is men worship God in many different ways and appreciate His handiwork. What’s coming through is they always have regardless of their location and period time on this earth.

    Hopefully we are getting past the “my way or you are wrong” thinking and preaching.

    My family thanks God everyday for Him doing the judging and not one of us.

  5. Zach says:

    Loved what you said about God and science, but I’m afraid it’s not just science that gets dictated by politics, but religion too.

  6. Norman Childs says:

    CREATION:

    I’ve got some questions for you.
    1. Why does the earth look so old?
    2. Why do many scientists insist the earth is 4 ½ billion years old?

    One reason is, the stars in our universe seem to be flying away from each other at a high rate of speed.
     If this rate was reversed, many millions or billions of years ago they would be all in one ball.
     Thus, evidently the universe is millions or billions of years old.

    BUT:
    3. HOW OLD DID ADAM LOOK WHEN HE WAS 2 DAYS OLD?
    4. Did he look like and embryo? No, or he would have required a mother’s womb to survive.
    5. Did he look like a new born baby? No, or he would have required an adult’s care to survive.
     He probably looked at least 15 when he was only two days old.
     Shortly after he was created Adam was told to take care of the garden and to have children.
     The fact that he could talk, reason, work and reproduce shows that he was created in a mature body
     God created plants, trees and man not seeds, saplings and children.
     GOD CREATED THE EARTH WITH THE APPEARANCE OF AGE.
     This must be the answer to star expulsion.
     If God created the stars with the appearance of age He could have placed them anywhere He wanted.
    Some one might say, “That is a dirty trick to make things look older than they are. That is deceiving.”
    No, that was necessary. Evolution could not work and if things were not created with the appearance age they could not have worked either. Bees must have honey to live. Flowers must have Bees to regenerate. Trees give off oxygen that people need and people give off carbon dioxide that the trees need. Nearly everything is dependant on other things which sustain their existence.

     Why does the earth look so old? One answer is that GOD CREATED THE EARTH WITH THE APPEARANCE OF AGE.

  7. Norman Childs says:

    THE AGE OF THE EARTH PART B

    Why does the earth look so old?
    1. God created the earth with the appearance of age.
    2. The Genesis flood would have made the earth appear very, very old.
    THE INITIAL RAIN: A simple flood can age things right before our eyes.
    • In 1889 a 60’ high wall of water, moved through Johnstown PA.
    • In 40 minutes 2,200 people had drown and the city appeared to age right before their eyes.
    • This was the result of one small rain storm. Think of rain for 40 days and night.
    • Picture in your mind how the initial down pour would have carved the earth’s surface.
    CONSIDER THE AMOUNT OF EARTH MOVED.
    The Mississippi River dumps 500 million tons of sediment into the Gulf each year.
    • The Average train carries 13,000 ton.
    • This would be more than a train load of dirt every day.
    • Louisiana grows 300 feet per year into the gulf.
    • But this is just one small river.
    • How much earth would be moved it the world was a river?
    CONSIDER THE SOFTENING EFFECT OF THE GENESIS FLOOD BEING ON MOST OF THE EARTH FOR NEARLY A YEAR.
    • The total earth’s surface would be nothing but a gigantic gooey mud ball.
    CONSIDER THE TURBULENCE.
    • “All the fountains of the deep broke up.” Gen 7:11
    • This implies that the earth was riddled with volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunami, and title waves.
    CONSIDER THE WEIGHT OF THE WATER
    • “Mountains were covered to a depth of 22 feet.” Gen 7:22
    • Mount Everest is 22,968 feet high.
    • A column of water one foot square, 22,968 feet high weighs 1,424,016 # or
    • 712 ton per square foot of land surface.
    • The average locomotive train engine weighs about 250 ton.
    • Picture the pressure of three train engines setting on a one foot square of soft soil.
    CONSIDER THE FINAL OUTCOME
    • The Grand Canyon, oil, Coal, Diamonds, layers of dirt (strata), mountains, and valleys.
    • Oil, Coal and Diamonds are made by vegetation being squeezed under great pressure for a period of time.
    • The Genesis Flood produced all the necessities to develop these things almost over night.

    Questions for The Age of The Earth B
    1. What two things made the earth look much older than it actually is?
    • God created the earth with the appearance of age
    • The Genesis flood made the earth age very fast
    2. How could the Genesis flood move the surface of the earth?
    3. How could the Genesis flood affect the surface of the earth (topography)?
    4. “All the fountains of the deep were broken up.” What effect would this have on the earth’s surface?
    5. Much of the earth was covered with water for over a year? What effect would this have on the earth’s surface?
    6. Water weigh712 ton per square foot. What could the weight of the water in the Genesis flood helped to produce?

  8. Norman Childs says:

    WHY DOES THE EARTH LOOK SO OLD? Part C
    1. The world was initially created with the appearance of age.
    2. The Genesis flood would have made the earth appear very old.
    3. Earth’s stratum seems to point to an old age of the earth.

    THE FAVORITE WAY OF ATTEMPTING TO PROVE THE EARTH TO BE VERY OLD IS STRATA OR LAYERS OF DIRT.
    Evolutionists like to say, “We can’t find evidence of evolution happening today therefore it must have occurred over long periods of time.”
    Evolutionists love to use CIRCULAR REASONING.
    An example is: This layer of dirt is 3 million years old.
    How do I know? This worm found in it is 3 million years old.
    How do I know? This layer of dirt the worm is found in is 3 million years old.

    • It is claimed that OLDER, SMALLER ANIMALS ARE ALWAYS FOUND LOWER in the layers of strata.
    • Glacier National Park has a section of land 350 miles long, 35 miles wide and 6 miles deep where the larger fossils are buried deeper than the simple fossils.
    • Where there are exceptions there are no proofs.
    • In every mountainous region on every continent there are numerous examples of the supposedly “old” strata on top of “young” strata. (The Genesis Flood, John C. Whitcomb, Jr. & Henry M. Morris. p 180.)
    • THE ONLY WAY AN ANIMAL FOSSIL CAN BE MADE IS TO HAVE THE ANIMAL TRAPPED SUDDENLY UNDER SEDIMENT; OTHERWISE IT WILL BE EATEN OR DECAYED.
    • The fact that there are so many fossils shows that a sudden catastrophe (like the Genesis flood) hit the earth and this in turn destroys all hopes of dating the earth by any gradual means.
    • Even before a tree stops growing the interior of the tree can be almost completely rotted away.
    • As soon as an animal dies its body starts to disintegrate and or be eaten by predators.
    • This is the reason why we seldom, if ever, find new fossils.
    • It takes a quick, huge catastrophe of to produce fossils.
    • The larger the animal the higher up the mountains they climb to escape every flood.
    • Smaller, less developed animals are almost always swept away first and are buried deeper than larger more developed animals.

    N. A. Rupke, a Dutch geologist, has documented many examples of tree trunks extending through several strata. OFTEN THE TREES ARE 20 FEET OR MORE IN LENGTH. (Biblical Cosmology and Modern Science, Henry M. Morris, p. 102.)
    • Standing tree-trunks covered by many layers of strata prove that the strata were laid down within a very short period of time.
    • If it had taken millions of years to lay the strata, the upper parts of the tree would have rotted away long before more layers could have been deposited.

    Questions for The Age of The Earth Part C
    1. How do Evolutionists use strata to prove the earth to be millions of years old?
    2. Why would small animals in a flood be more likely buried deeper than large animals?
    3. What does Glacier National Park have that disproves the Evolutionists’ claim?
    4. Are larger more developed animals ever found in the lower strata?
    5. How do tree trunks sticking up through many layers of strata prove the strata were laid in a relatively short period of time?
    6. Why aren’t fossils made today?

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