true “creationism” and the earth machine

Perhaps a major reason why climate change action is seen as so unnecessary by so many people is our view of our place in the world.

Indeed, the Industrial Revolution was built on the philosophy that the world works like a machine, and that it can be controlled by those who effectively see themselves as somehow separate to or greater than the great earth engine.

Such a mechanical view of the planet can be traced back to (among others) Isaac Newton and his mechanical laws of physics. Such laws reduced the world down to predictable rules.

But the world of science has changed, blown apart by Einsteinian relativity. The world and beyond is not the machine humans thought it was, and indeed it cannot be mastered the way humans thought could be done (though some will continue to say “Yes, we can!”).

The truth is that the earth is a living thing! It forms a bio-web of life which embraces millions of creatures.

Humans are, of course, included in this web, though we have for far too long believed this to be less than true. We cannot however live and flourish without the bio-web of the earth; we require food and water and air and land to survive. It is nothing short of a tragedy that we have gone on destroying large sections of this web in the name of taming the “machine” for our own purposes.

Theologically speaking, Christians need a far more robust theology of creation. We need to get past the anachronistic and embarrassing debates about 6-day creationism and evolution; this is not at all the point of the beginning of Genesis!

What is clear at the genesis of Genesis is that humans are created in order to care for the rest of that which God made. This means seeing ourselves as part of that creation (not as superior) and embracing the thinking of the ancients who, rather than raping the earth for resources, learned to draw nourishment from the bio-web without depleting it beyond repair.

The exceptions to the rule in the ancient world prove the rule. Societies such as the Mayans and the natives of Easter Island declined soon after their peaks because at their zenith they depleted their natural resources beyond recovery. The Romans could be said to have done the same, inasmuch as the progressively luxurious demands of an increasing population were unsustainable and led to resources being spread too thin; this enabled antagonistic societies to invade and eventually defeat Rome.

This picture could be cautiously applied to the trajectory of the US. America’s insatiable demand for resources, which is far greater than any empire before it, has led to a situation where oil has become a driving motive – expending exuberant amounts of resources to secure more such resources is illogical, but it is nonetheless the foreign policy of our only superpower.

To take a high view of creation does not mean believing it was done in a few days; a high view of creation affirms the goodness of that creation! True “creationism” means acknowledging the plan of God to redeem and restore creation (qua Romans 8). True “creationism” actually embraces the stated purpose of humankind in Genesis 1-2.

In fact, to put it more simply, true “creationism” just plain pays attention to what Genesis actually says…

MCA

P.S. For a great read on this topic grab Michael Northcott’s “A Moral Climate” – brilliant!

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Posted on February 21, 2011, in Biblical Studies, Culture & Art, Ecology/Environment, Theology and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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