March 19, 2005


Evangelical environmentalism: We (include) the people (Dr. John R. Christy, March 18, 2005, Townhall)

"If you chance to come upon a bird’s nest, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting upon the young or upon the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall let the mother go, but the young you may take to yourself; that it may go well with you, and that you may live long." -- Deuteronomy 22:6-7, RSV

This admonition explains the evangelical view of Creation. (In the secular world we say "environment," which, as best I can tell, means "Creation minus people.")

On the one hand, humans, as the crowning achievement of God’s Creation, are held in high esteem since the Creation’s purpose is to sustain human life.

On the other hand, Creation’s viability is largely our responsibility.

Thus, we let the mother bird go, keeping Creation’s fabric of life thriving. That’s a strong biblical statement about preserving the environment. It’s also good common sense.

That the Creation exists to sustain us may sound presumptuous, but it flows from the faith-claim that we humans are created in the "image of God." This means human life is valuable above all Creation. Now, as a scientist, I cannot prove that human life is of such great value, it’s a matter of faith. But, a worldview which values a chickadee as much as a child is not evangelical.

When faced with difficult choices about the relative value of human life, evangelicals err on the side of humanity. Hypothetically, we choose the African child over the humpback whale and the Alzheimer's patient over the giant sequoia … every time.

Fortunately, we do not face such contrived situations. Our environment can sustain us and still remain vibrant.

Responsibility being the key--as regards the environment, the Left denies our responsibility to each other, the Right our responsibility to the rest of Creation.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 19, 2005 9:29 AM

One of the wonders of our world is that we don't have to choose between whales and African children.

There's room here for all God's creatures.

Posted by: erp at March 19, 2005 10:29 AM

The word is stewardship.

Posted by: bart at March 19, 2005 10:41 AM

[T]he Right [denies] our responsibility to the rest of Creation.

Yep. We have responsibilities to each other, to the our future and to G-d. We have no responsibilities to dirt.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 19, 2005 10:41 AM

Not dirt qua dirt, but many of god's creatures (Singer is right, you know) need the stuff.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 19, 2005 12:13 PM

Singer is evil.

Posted by: oj at March 19, 2005 1:04 PM

We are all evil, and all holy. And it don't mean he ain't right on this point.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 19, 2005 1:56 PM

Yes, it is the precise way in which he's evil, his disregard or even hostility to human dignity and his animism.

Posted by: oj at March 19, 2005 3:33 PM


That's not what God told us.

Posted by: oj at March 19, 2005 3:37 PM

Citation, please.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 19, 2005 3:51 PM

Even after initially establishing our dominion on Earth ((Gen. 1:2728)) there's the postdiluvian Covenant:

8:14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.
8:15 And God spake unto Noah, saying,
8:16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.
8:17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.
8:18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him:
8:19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.
8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
Chapter 9
9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
9:3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
9:5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.
9:6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
9:7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
9:8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
9:10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
9:11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
9:13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
9:14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
9:17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

Posted by: oj at March 19, 2005 4:04 PM

Singer has espoused many positions that are, um, provocative. But of course he's not unique in that approach, is he? Can't tell from what little I've read of him whether he overstates his case for dramatic effect or really believes we should copulate with dogs. I certainly don't, but do believe dogs have souls ... they're just not a self-aware and choice-capable of humans. (Though the various shepherd breeds do seem sharper than some folks I've run into. Especially the Australian Cattle Dog. Hmm ... maybe Singer has my view of the ACD and your view of aboriginal peoples.)

Posted by: ghostcat at March 19, 2005 4:33 PM

Not provocative, evil.

Posted by: oj at March 19, 2005 4:44 PM

No more so than Mick Jagger. You playing the role of Don McLean?

Posted by: ghostcat at March 19, 2005 4:53 PM

OJ's right: evil. Singer's "philosophy" is just an elaborate set of highbrow rationalizatons for the "right" of the powerful to bully the helpless, a way of weaseling out of the duty to care for the least of these.

Respect for life isn't weakness, and disregard for it isn't strength.

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 19, 2005 9:39 PM