In a recent discussion about the condition of our environment, some one brought up the stunning argument “well if it’s God’s will…” followed by a defeatist shrug. I was shocked.
Personally I do believe in a higher power, and to be honest with you I imagine most environmentally concerned citizens do as well, be it God, Gaia, Allah (blessed be his name) or the Great Spirit.
The bio-diversity, and self managing ecosystem is so complex and so perfect in it’s balance and redundancies, it’s hard to imagine there is not a guiding force.
Into this balance steps mankind. The creature provided with free choice in some beliefs and the mutant monkey in others. In either of these arguments man does not fit the pattern. He is either a mutation of a primate that was so successful he no longer had to conform to the environmental needs, he could create his own. Or he was given the choice to follow the instructions of a god, on how to care for the planet, or toss them out and make his own rules. No commonly accepted religion I am aware of preaches self destruction.
Religion does not imply the environment is not important, as a matter of fact it often refers to our obligations to it. When someone argues with me that God gave mastery over the creatures of the earth, I recommend they reread the passages they are quoting, and put them in context.
In the Catholic Bible, they speak of Genesis 1:26
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
The key word is Dominion, which mean ‘Control or the exercise of control; sovereignty’ and while there are other definitions, none imply destruction, or discard, or waste. In a biblical sense it would be used as a ruler who had dominion over his people, and God punished those who harmed the people, while rewarding those who cared and nourished theirs. So that argument fails. If there is not time to explain this there is always the one line out of Revelation 11:18
“and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
Short and to the point. Those who destroy the earth shall be destroyed. This does not seem to say God’s will is for us to rape the planet for quick profits. That would be greed and if I remember correctly, a sin.
The Koran or Qur’an speaks of environmental care in Al-A`raf 7:56
“And do not corrupt in the earth after being tilled, and invoke Him in fear and longing. Surely the mercy of Allah is near to the fair-doers.”
And Al-Baqarah 2:205
“And when he turns away, he [diligently] endeavors about the earth to corrupt in it and cause the tillage and stock to perish; and Allah does not love corruption.”
As examples of stewardship over the bounty provided, as well as several other times pointing out how to harbour and maintain resources in a sustainable manner.
The spiritual aspects of Native North American’s as well as the spiritual nature of Gaia refer constantly to a living breathing Earth, all the plants, animals and even the minerals are components of some immense organic life form.
Under those concepts, tearing at the Earth for oil as quickly as possible, and burning down the rainforest to create grazing, would equate humans to virus or a cancer.
I am not implying that we are all horrible people on a fast track to Hell, just that if you do believe in a higher power, I think they would want us all to take better care of the gifts given to us. This gift, Earth in all its glory, is not a toy we can wear out and cast aside expecting to get a better one later.
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Daniel O’Neail is a London political figure, environmentalist, and public speaker. Opinions are those of the author. Contact Daniel by e-mail (see link).