What is a biblical perspective of environmentalism? God as the Creator and owner of the earth (Isaiah 45:12, Psalm 24:1) has mandated that mankind should take stewardship or dominion over the earth’s physical and biological realms. A good term for this is conservation – the act of preserving, protecting and properly managing the earth’s natural resources. In Genesis 1:28, God said to Adam and Eve, “…Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish (fill) the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the (animal kingdom).” After the worldwide flood, God reiterated this mandate to Noah and his sons (Genesis 9:1-7).
We see three elements of God’s mandate and they incorporate conservation principles. First of all, God wanted mankind to fill the earth. At the Tower of Babel, man in his pride refused to obey this mandate. God therefore confused and multiplied man’s languages not only to prevent another universal rebellion, but also to force him to disperse around the globe and “fill” it. God created the earth to be inhabited (Isa 45:18) and we need not worry that He will allow it to become “overpopulated.”
Science, Technology and Education
A second element of God’s mandate is for mankind to subdue His creation. To subdue God’s creation requires man to gain knowledge of the world around him (science), to apply that knowledge for the benefit of mankind (technology and commerce), and to pass that knowledge on to future generations (education). The purpose of all this should be for the glory of God (Rev 4:11, 1 Cor 10:31). We see evidence of conservation in God’s Creation in that by God (Jesus Christ) “all things consist” (are held together) (Col 1:17). Also, the 1st Law of Thermodynamics defines the conservation of mass-energy; while due to man’s sin, the 2nd law defines the deterioration of mass-energy.
Unfortunately, because of sin, mankind has not always carried out this second element of the mandate well. Rather than glorify God for His awe-inspiring Creation, our education system is rife with evolutionary pseudo-science. Our technology has often been used for negative purposes such as war or to “play God” with genetics and biotechnology. And our commerce and governments are more often than not corrupt due to greed, selfishness and pride.
Man-made Global Warming?
In their arrogance and lack of trust in God’s sovereign control of our planet, many scientists have bought into the hypothesis that man-made CO2 is causing catastrophic global warming. Since carbon dioxide is only one of many interrelated drivers (causes) for climate change, the science is far from settled. We appear to be in a period of warming, but the earth has and always will go through periods of warming and cooling. Actually, there are indications that over that last 15 years or so we are in a pause from this warming trend. Also, significant climate changes are only seen in forecast models. These models have been recently shown to over predict what is now being observed. Unfortunately, data and climate models are often manipulated for political purposes and to meet ulterior agenda. We are seeing CO2 increasing, but CO2 is not the only reason for warming, in fact some think it is a result of warming not the cause. Mandating reduced CO2 emissions increases poverty by depriving third world nations of needed energy sources. Indeed, increased CO2 is actually beneficial to mankind (e.g., enhanced food production). But most importantly, God has said that He is preserving the earth for future judgment (2 Peter 3:7). He has covenanted (promised) not to send another global flood (Gen 9:9-17), and that the earth will continue to have its normal climate cycles as long as the earth remains (Genesis 8:22).
Man is not an Evolved Animal
A third element of God’s creation mandate is for mankind to have dominion over the animal kingdom (see also Psalm 8:6-8). This is not for the purpose of abusing animals but to use them for the benefit of mankind. Unfortunately, because of evolutionary thinking, man has corrupted this element and placed animals on the same plain as man. Evolutionists consider man to be only a slightly higher evolved animal; not God’s crowning creation made in His image (Gen 1:27). This can lead to extreme environmental policies which often mean hardships for farmers, property owners, and natural resource workers.
God has mandated that mankind should take stewardship or dominion over the earth’s physical and biological realms (Gen 1:28). But the entire Creation, even the animal kingdom, has been affected by sin. Nevertheless it is being preserved and conserved by God, awaiting deliverance from this bondage (Rom 8:20-22). In the meantime, thankfully, our Creator God, Jesus Christ, has resolved our sin problem by His physical death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor 15, John 3:16), which does away with the curse of sin and death (Rev 22:3). When He returns to reign, hopefully then man will reach his full potential as the proper environmental steward God meant him to be.