Have you ever heard some Christian preacher declare that God will destroy the Earth? I recently did. Not that I have never heard this theological view presented in the past, I have. But having heard it in a recent presentation by a prominent Christian Pastor, and having committed so much time and research into a Bible-based ecological ethic over the past 15 or 20 years, it got me thinking that this is a topic worth addressing. After all, it would seem odd that God would command humanity in Genesis 1 to take care of this planet if His ultimate intent were to destroy it.
In this message I want to examine this religious view that has developed in some areas of Christianity. Will God destroy the Earth? Where does this belief come from?
So, let’s jump right in and dissect this topic to see where such an ideology comes from and whether or not it has any biblical merit.
What Dominion Means
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. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
~Genesis 1:26-28 (KJV)
If you are familiar with my work you may notice that I typically cite Scripture from the Tree Of Life Version of The Bible or sometimes the Complete Jewish Bible translation, both of which place a heavy emphasis on the Hebraic influences of the text. But here I chose to use the King James Version. Why? After all, this translation is so often shunned by a growing majority of people today. People involved in Messianic Jewish circles or the Hebrew Roots Movement shun it in favor of more reliable modern translations that emphasize the Hebraic basis of the text. Modern Christians shun it for current “easy-to-read” translations like the new Modern English Version or the New International Version, and some of the more liberal Christians even trade in translations for paraphrases like The Message Bible.
So why would I cite the King James here? Simply because this translation is the foundation for a theology that ultimately ends up with God destroying the earth.
In the King James, as well as many other translations that follow on it, a particular word is used in the commandment given to humanity: dominion. Many have looked at this word dominion and come to a conclusion that it means that humanity was set as some type of dominant being in the Earth to do whatever we please with the rest of the natural resources, dominating no matter the cost to the biosphere. We are here to rule and the rest of creation is here to be used by human beings for our own desires. And the more we can advance for our own comfort and convenience is what matters, without regard to how much it causes other living beings to suffer.
While this is certainly not true to what is stated in this opening passage of The Bible, which I will get into in a moment, it is important to understanding why some—perhaps many—Christians have a belief that God will destroy the world one day. After all, if we are given some “permission” by God from the very beginning to abuse the Creation for our own personal gain, then it begins to make a little bit of sense that God would ultimately destroy the world He created. This view of dominion basically means that the Earth was only created to serve a temporary purpose and it doesn’t matter what happens or what we humans do to it. But is this the right interpretation of the text?
The Hebrew word primarily called into question here is רָדָה (radah), and in addition to being translated as dominion in many English Bibles other words used are: rule, have authority, take charge, have power, be masters, be head, reign, and be sovereign. This all makes it sound like we are granted full use of Earth’s resources for our own purposes. But there is one English Bible that says it a little different. It’s that modern paraphrase I mentioned a moment ago, The Message Bible. And while I don’t normally use this version to build doctrine on—and nobody should ever build doctrine from a paraphrase, this is very dangerous and can get you in a lot of trouble, always build your doctrine before consulting a paraphrase version of The Bible—I do find that the way this passage reads from it opens up a new line of thought for this passage.
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, And, yes, Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.” God created human beings; he created them godlike, Reflecting God’s nature. He created them male and female. God blessed them: “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge! Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”
~Genesis 1:26-28 (The Message)
In looking at the Hebrew word radah I found out some interesting things. It appears 27 times in the Hebrew Bible. In most cases it is translated as rule, rule over, or have dominion. But there is at least one use that gives us a clue to something in regard to the correct application of this rule or dominion. Ezekiel 34:4 (TLV) reads: “You do not strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the broken, bring back the stray or seek the lost. Instead, you have ruled [radah] over them with force and cruelty.”
In this passage radah is paired with a rebuke for the use of force and cruelty. This indicates to us that it is wrong to use our radah appointed to humanity in Genesis 1:26-28 harshly or in a way that is oppressive. Dominion, as it appears in Genesis 1, has more to do with being responsible for Creation than anything else. It certainly does not mean we can “rule harshly” over the Earth, dominating it, raping and pillaging for our own selfish gain at any cost, regardless of the destructive results.
Some may have a problem with me saying this, but I believe Christians have erred in making the message of The Bible about the redemption of humanity. We were not supposed to fall in the first place. Redemption was not the original plan. God created us to care for His Creation, not to chase after redemption. The only reason we need redemption is because we didn’t obey Him in the first place. Essentially, as important as redemption is, it is also nothing more than a distraction to keep us from what The Bible indicates should be our true focus, and that distraction was initiated by the serpent in Eden when you really stop and think about it.
How clever is the adversary, the serpent, the devil we call Satan? We think he just tricked that original couple into eating some fruit that caused sin to enter the human condition. But what he really did was cause redemption to become the focus of humanity, which meant that the focus was no longer the care of the Earth. This means that while human beings are chasing redemption, Satan’s true plan to destroy this world through the hands of human beings has been in full force from the moment Eve plucked a piece of fruit from that one lonely tree in the midst of the garden, the one tree they should have just stayed away from to begin with.
I also want to take a moment to consider the word subdue used in Genesis 1:28. This is the Hebrew word כָּבַשׁ (kabash). There are other words translated as subdue in the course of the Tanakh, and they include: chashal, kana, kara, shephal, and lachats. These all portray the idea of subduing with force, or against the nature or will of the subdued. In contrast, kabash appears to have more to do with the way Yahweh subdues the land with shalom (peace). In other words, it’s not the way a violent dictator would subdue his people by threat of punishment and death, but rather the way a balance and harmony is created in an ecosystem where all life supports all other life
To further support the idea that Genesis 1:26-28 is telling us to care for God’s Creation rather than to do with it whatever we want for our own pleasure we see the following stated in Genesis 2:15 (NOG): “Then Yahweh Elohim took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to farm the land and to take care of it.” Young’s Literal Translation says to serve it, and to keep it. So, it is very apparent that our entire purpose, as human beings, on this planet is to take care of it, not to destroy it by using it for our own gain until we have nothing left.
The Destruction Of The Earth?
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
~2 Peter 3:10-12 (TLV)
In this passage it appears that there will come a day when God is going to destroy the Earth by fire. But is that what is really being said here? Many have used these three verses to claim that God will destroy the world and, in the most extreme of this theological view, some back this up with the misrepresentation of dominion that I just finished telling you about. If God is going to destroy the Earth anyway, then it really doesn’t matter what we do with the natural resources of the planet. And if we use up a resource that causes a plant or animal species to go extinct, who cares? God is going to annihilate the whole planet anyway and take us to a “new” place, right? Well, let’s look into this.
While it’s not the “end of the story”, if it can be shown that Peter is not presenting the literal destruction of the Earth here it practically dismantles any theological argument that God will one day Himself eradicate this world, whether by fire or any other means. N.T. Wright is a widely accepted scholar and considered by many to be the top Christian theologian alive today. While I am not so sure I would go quite that far, his work is accepted and even promoted by a number of ministry colleagues I have, including some who are a part of what many call the Hebrew Roots Movement. In his book The Early Christian Letters for Everyone: James, Peter, John, and Judah Wright provides this commentary regarding the passage in question from 2 Peter:
Here, at the end of this passage, we have a statement which in older translations of the Bible came out one way, but which, with all the biblical manuscripts we now have, almost certainly needs to be changed. In the older versions, this passage ends with the warning that ‘the earth and all the works on it will be burned up.’ A cosmic destruction: the end of the physical world! Is that really what Peter wrote? If so, it’s the only place in the whole of early Christian literature where such an idea is found.
But in some of the best manuscripts of the New Testament, including two of the very best, the word for ‘will be burned up’ isn’t there. Instead, there is a word which means ‘will be found’, or ‘will be discovered’, or ‘will be disclosed’. Perhaps ‘will be found out’ would be another way of getting at the meaning. What I believe has happened is this. Several early scribes, faced with ‘will be found’, thought to themselves, ‘That can’t be right! It makes no sense! Surely he meant “will be burnt up”.’ And so the change was made. (You can see that there was confusion, because there are several other manuscripts which try out other options as well.)
And look at the difference it makes! As with the rest of the New Testament, Peter is not saying that the present world of space, time and matter is going to be burnt up and destroyed. That is more like the view of ancient Stoicism – and of some modern ideas, too. What will happen, as many early Christian teachers said, is that some sort of ‘fire’, literal or metaphorical, will come upon the whole earth, not to destroy, but to test everything out, and to purify it by burning up everything that doesn’t meet the test. The ‘elements’ that will be ‘dissolved’ are probably the parts of the creation that are needed at the moment for light and heat, that is, the sun and the moon: according to Revelation 21 they will not be needed in the new creation. But Peter’s concern throughout the letter is with the judgment of humans for what they have done, not with the non-human parts of the cosmos for their own sake.
It would seem then that the idea of God destroying the Earth in the way many today would present is not really what this passage is all about. And, as Wright notes, if that were what Peter is saying then it would be the only place in early Christian wiring that such a view is expressed. Let’s take a look at something interesting presented by author James Carroll in his great book Constantine’s Sword: The Church And The Jews:
Shoah, in its biblical usage, points to the absence of God’s creative hovering, the opposite of which is rendered as “ruach.” Ruach is the breath of God, which in Genesis drew order out of chaos. Shoah is its undoing.
Let’s think about how this applies to the topic at hand. Carroll was writing primarily about anti-Semitic acts that ultimately led to the Nazi Holocaust where over six million people were killed solely because they were Jewish. Today the Jewish people do not generally refer to this event in history as the Holocaust the way non-Jews do, but rather call it the Shoah.
But what Carroll is doing here is drawing a comparison between the Shoah that took place under the reign of Adolf Hitler and the overall concept of shoah in relation to its opposition to the Creation. I have to wonder, why would God create this world, call it good, create people to take care of the whole thing, set aside the seventh day to celebrate His Creation, but ultimately want to destroy it? This makes no sense. And it makes no sense because it’s simply not true. God will not be the one to destroy this planet, but I do not want to get too far ahead of myself.
Even a casual reading of The Bible will reveal a major emphasis on God’s Creation. Psalm 104 and 149 are wonderful examples, as well as some statements made in the Book of Job. And the record in Genesis 6-9 reveals, along with other portions of Scripture, that God places a priority on the whole of His Creation, even above human life. The reality of it, whether people want to hear it or not, is that the emphatic priority on human life through Christianity is a relatively recent belief and is not really in harmony with The Bible. This is not to mean that human life is not important. It just may not be the top priority in God’s eyes. It seems quite clear throughout Scripture that the whole of Creation is most important and humanity, in it’s fallen state rebelling and warring against God, is not. I know this will not sit well with people, but open a Bible, start at the beginning, and read through it with this perspective in your mind. You will be shocked at how the text jumps out at you!
The whole purpose of the plan of salvation for human beings is simply to get us back to Eden where we are commanded to take care of Creation. But the care of Creation is itself the highest priority and the sole purpose of humanity; Genesis 1 and 2 make that very clear.
The Fire And The Flood
There is an ancient legend, confirmed by the famed historian Flavius Josephus, that claims there would be a “destruction” of the Earth once by water and again by fire. This is recorded in his well-known work Antiquities Of The Jews, Book 1:
Now Adam, who was the first man, and made out of the earth: (for our discourse must now be about him:) after Abel was slain, and Cain fled away, on account of his murder, was solicitous for posterity; and had a vehement desire of children: he being two hundred and thirty years old: after which time he lived other seven hundred, and then died. He had indeed many other children: but Seth in particular. As for the rest it would be tedious to name them: I will therefore only endeavor to give an account of those that proceeded from Seth. Now this Seth, when he was brought up, and came to those years in which he could discern what was good, became a virtuous man: and as he was himself of an excellent character, so did he leave children behind him who imitated his virtues. All these proved to be of good dispositions. They also inhabited the same country without dissensions, and in an happy condition, without any misfortunes falling upon them, till they died. They also were the inventors of that peculiar sort of wisdom, which is concerned with the heavenly bodies, and their order. And that their inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, upon Adam’s prediction that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire, and at another time by the violence and quantity of water, they made two pillars: the one of brick, the other of stone: they inscribed their discoveries on them both: that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit those discoveries to mankind: and also inform them that there was another pillar of brick erected by them. Now this remains in the land of Siriad to this day.
According to Josephus, these pillars—or at least the stone pillar, it doesn’t appear to be clear in the record—continued to exist when he wrote these things. If either of these pillars truly existed in his day, it would seem they either do not exist today or have disappeared but could potentially be rediscovered.
I bring this up, however, because regardless of what is true or not it presents an ancient belief that is even confirmed by one of the most highly regarded Jewish historians to have lived who indicates that this fire, presumably the fire spoken of in 2 Peter, will be parallel to the flood. So let’s take a quick look at the flood that “destroyed” the Earth, and yet clearly did not “destroy” the Earth. In his work Commentary On The Torah, Rabbi Ovadiah ben Jacob Sforno, commenting on Genesis 6:13, says:
And I am destroying the land, so that now I will destroy them together with the earth. I will destroy the climate which could support life on earth by interfering with the sun’s orbit and rearranging it from the beginning of the deluge for the entire future. We find that G’d explained this to Job In Job 38, 4-15. This accounts for the lifespan of man having been drastically reduced after the deluge. The climate of the earth changed, there were greater extremes of heat and cold, the produce of the earth was considerably less capable of supporting a long lifespan. As a by-product of this deterioration in the quality of the vegetable products, man was allowed to eat meat as a compensation.
Looking at the record of the event in Genesis chapters 6 and 7, you will certainly notice that it says God regretted creating human beings, clearly because they had turned so far from His ways end embraced evil. But the text never actually says that God intended to destroy the Earth. It says that He was going to wipe out all of the living creatures on the Earth, but not that He would destroy the Earth itself.
Then He finds the one man that still remained true to His ways: Noah. The narrative says that Noah found grace in the eyes of God, the first place in the storyline of The Bible that we find this concept of grace—which I discuss in my previous articles Noah: The Beginning Of Grace and Grace Before The Cross. So God comes up with a plan of redemption instead of total annihilation of all life.
You are certainly familiar with the story, so I will not belabor it. But the record seems much more in line with what N.T. Wright described in his commentary on 2 Peter. God did not destroy the Earth by water; He cleansed is, purified it, and gave it a second chance. He altered the biosphere, as the Rabbi proposes, perhaps with the hope that humanity would do a better job under different atmospheric conditions or with a shorter lifespan.
As Scripture overwhelmingly declares that God does not change, and considering what we have already looked at pertaining to the statements in Peter’s epistle, it would seem the logical conclusion is that God will again cleanse and purify the Earth, this time by fire. As Wright says, this may be a literal fire or fire may be a metaphor for something else. Regardless, it seems clear that the Scripture nowhere indicates that God would ever destroy that which He poured so much of Himself into creating.
The Destroyers Of The Earth
“We thank you, Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot,
who is and who was,
because You have taken Your great power
and begun to reign.
The nations were enraged,
but Your wrath has come
and the time for the dead to be judged—
to reward Your servants,
the prophets and kedoshim,
and those who fear Your name,
the small and the great,
and to destroy the destroyers of the earth.”
~Revelation 11:17-18 (TLV)
This is another passage of Scripture I often cite in regard to discussing Bible-based ecology ethics, and if you have read my previous work on topics related to this message you are certainly very familiar with it. This would beg the question then: Who are the destroyers of the Earth?
If God were to destroy the earth as some misinterpret Peter to claim, then He would have to destroy Himself at some point in fulfillment of this passage. Obviously, that doesn’t sound like it would make a whole lot of sense. So who then is this passage referring to?
I have come to the absolute conclusion that human beings are and always have been the destroyers of the Earth. But not just human beings as a whole, but specifically those who do not follow the parameters laid out in God’s Torah. This, of course, would be the overwhelming majority of the human race including most professing Christians who claim they follow The Bible.
I don’t want to dig into statistics here; I have done that in past messages dealing with other topics. But I can assure you that the percentage of humanity who has ever chosen to live their life guided by God’s Torah is extremely low. But the reality is that a thorough study of Torah from a perspective of Creation care, based on Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15, reveals that so many of the commandments are directly related to the balance and harmony of life on Earth. As I have shown in the past, even things like violating the food laws by eating unclean things leads to the destruction of entire ecosystems.
This seems a hard pill for some to swallow today. After all, we live in the age of technological glory. Humanity has come up with so many innovations in just the last hundred years that have seemingly improved our lives. But at what cost?
What has our advances done to the rest of the world? From a host of unnatural man-made products to the factories that produce them we are polluting our world; literally killing and destroying the world we live in. And I remind you; killing and destroying are characteristics that our Messiah attributed directly to Satan (see John 10:10).
If you truly love God and are sold out to His Way—His Torah—then you will do everything you can to live within the parameters of the world He created the way He created it. There is certainly no reason at all for any professing Christian to eat unclean animal, God’s made sure that we would have plenty of plants and clean animals that meet His definition of human food. And really, there aren’t any good reasons in most cases to eat unnatural things being touted as food either.
There is no reason to buy clothes made from artificial fabrics in most cases. There are a few clothing items that modern industry makes it nearly impossible to find made from wholly natural materials, but most of your major clothing items can easily be found made from 100% cotton, 100% linen, 100% wool, etc. And other than avoiding the mixture of wool and linen in the same garment or wearing garments of wool and linen together, which is prohibited by Torah, it’s not difficult to create a wardrobe of clothing made with all natural fabric fibers.
Why is this important? Not only is it the best way to promote a healthy planet, as natural products are far less likely to create pollution in manufacturing and are generally biodegradable, but all of these man-made artificial things that replace them are essentially an act of humanity shaking their fist at God and saying: “You didn’t do it right, we can do it better!” Think about it, materials like polyester, acrylic, and other unnatural fabrics are not good for the environment and indications are that they are not good for your own health either.
If you are finished with a cotton shirt, you could cut it up and put it into a composting box and nature would turn it into healthy soil that could be used to grow a healthy organic vegetable garden in your yard. You can’t do that with clothes that are essentially made from a form of plastic, which is what many synthetic fabrics actually are.
And look, this is not about being legalistic and creating a bunch of religious rules that “add to Scripture”. This is about honoring God and His Creation. Anyone who would even make such a claim of legalism about the principles I am talking about here clearly does not know God the Creator.
This is about not being a destroyer of the Earth. I would love to have a smartphone, a computer, and a car that I knew did not cause any pollution during manufacture, were completely ecofriendly, and could be recycled in a way that didn’t cause any additional pollution. Unfortunately, despite the reality that such things can be produced, corporations for the most part seem uninterested in doing that. For example, with regard to cars there is still too much profit to be made through gasoline sale by the greedy destroyers of the Earth to mass-produce cars that run on water or solar energy. Even more “eco-friendly” hybrid cars are not as widespread as those that run on traditional petroleum fuels. But eventually we won’t have a choice and they will have to mass-produce eco-friendly cars and literally force them on the population, whether they want it or not, before it’s too late.
But you can honor God. You might have your hands tied in some things because of the society we have been forced to live in, but there are things you can do. You can follow the Torah with regard to things like food and clothing. There is no good excuse to reject or ignore those very easy-to-follow commandments. You can also seek out the most eco-friendly products for technologies you do need, when the time comes to replace what you currently have. Invest in energy-saving home appliances. Look for the eco-friendly automobile that would work best for you, be it electric, hybrid, alternative fuels like corn-based E-85, or whatever the best possible option is for you to promote Creation care.
Get into your Bible. “Going green” is not the product of liberal politicians and loony activists. Before any of those people figured it out, it was the commandment of God. The very first thing God ever told human beings to do. Genesis 1 and 2 records it very plainly.
People often talk about wanting to do the will of God. THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD. More than anything else, caring for the Creation is God’s will for your life. The more you do to promote the overall health of the planet and all life on Earth, the closer you will be to the very heart of God the Creator.
New Heaven, New Earth
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
~Revelation 21:1 (TLV)
The Scripture tells us that God will one day create a new heaven and a new Earth. But does that mean that He will destroy the existing planet, and the existing heaven for that matter, to create something brand new?
The Greek word used in Revelation 21:1 is kainos. It is also used in Hebrews 8:8 referring to the new covenant, in which God says He will put His Torah in the mind and write His Torah on the heart of anyone who truly enters into His covenant. Hebrews 8:8 is a citation from the Tanakh, specifically Jeremiah 31:31 (or verse 30 in some translations). The Hebrew word used in Jeremiah is חָדָשׁ (chadash, Strong’s 2319), and it plainly means new. However, this word originates from the Hebrew word חָדַשׁ (also, chadash, Strong’s 2318, but pronounced slightly different). The difference, if you can see it, is in the vowel marking placed below the middle character in the Hebrew word, which is the Hebrew letter dalet. This original form of chadash means to renew or repair.
The context of statements using these words—whether the Greek kainos or the Hebrew chadash—all trace back to the original Hebrew word that means: renewal, repair, or restoration. What Scripture is saying in Revelation 21:1, just as it says of the new covenant, is that this will not be the abolishing of one thing to create something entirely new but the repair, restoration, and renewal of what was originally created… only better. The new covenant is said to be a better covenant with better promises, but make no mistake it is a renewed covenant, not a totally different covenant. It is the same Torah put in the mind and written on the heart of the Believer.
In like manner, the new heaven and Earth will be the same heaven and Earth made new, renewed, repaired, restored, refreshed, and revived. Just as N.T. Wright notes, as cited above, Peter is not describing the literal destruction of the globe, but a purification process that results in this renewal.
Think about it for a little bit. Why would God commit everything in His being to creating the Earth, creating the lands and seas, creating such a diverse and magnificent host of creatures to live in them, and then destroy the whole thing? That makes no sense. And then we see that He will one day renew the whole thing, bringing it back into perfect harmony as it was created to be. It seems very clear to me that anyone who would make such an ignorant statement that God would utterly destroy His Creation altogether clearly doesn’t know the first thing about The Bible.
A Call To Creation Care
We are meant to exercise our “rule” only in union with God, as he acts with us. He intended to be our constant companion or coworker in the creative enterprise of life on earth. That is what his love for us means in practical terms.
~Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy
Edward O. Wilson is a renowned biologist who is perhaps best known for his studies of ants and his development of the scientific theory of biophilia, which proposes that human beings are instinctively drawn to nature—I’ll get into that in a moment. While he holds an atheistic and evolutionary worldview, he wrote a small book as an open letter to Christian Pastors titled The Creation: An Appeal To Save Life On Earth. In this book he proposes that Christians and Scientists would do well to unify in a massive joint effort to ensure the continuation of life on Earth. Says Wilson:
Blinded by ignorance and self-absorption, humanity is destroying the creation. There is still time to assume the stewardship of the natural world that we owe to future generations.
In his appeal to stop this systematic destruction of the Earth and return to a stewardship ideology, he proposes the following:
Save the Creation, save all of it! No lesser goal is defensible. However biodiversity arose, it was not put on this planet to be erased by any one species. This is not the time, nor will there ever be a time, when circumstance justifies destroying Earth’s natural heritage. Proud though we are of our special status, and justifiably so, let us keep our world-changing capabilities in perspective. All that human beings can imagine, al the fantasies we can conjure, all our games, simulations, epics, myths, and histories, and, yes, all our science dwindle to little beside the full productions of the biosphere. We have not even discovered more than a small fraction of Earth’s life forms. We understand fully no one species among the millions that have survived our onslaught.
It is true that nonhuman life preceded us on this planet. Whether by a literal day, according to Genesis, or by more than 3.5 billion years, as the scientific evidence shows, it is still true that we are a latecomer. The biosphere into which humanity was born had its Nature-born crises, but it was overall a beautifully balanced and functioning system. It would have continued to be so in the absence of Homo-sapiens. Even today a diminished wild Nature provides us ecosystem services, such as water management, pollution control, and soil enrichment, equal in economic value to all that humanity artifactually generates.
Think of it. With the smaller population that can be reached within a century, and a higher and sustainable per capita consumption spread more evenly around the world, this planet can be paradise. But only if we take the rest of life with us.
If you notice, despite his timely call, he subtly mocks the Creationist worldview and then insists that his view of evolution is “what the evidence supports”. He actually takes this tone at several places throughout his book, which I found very disheartening. Obviously as a renowned biologist he is a smart man, but so much of the time the most brilliant of people lack common sense. I mean, if you want to work in unity with a group of people for a common goal, you don’t mock them in your appeal.
I agree with Wilson’s call to steward and care for The Creation, as he so aptly titles his book. But if we servants of the Most High God are to work in tandem with the world of science, whether the evolution theory atheists or the creationists who share in the biblical worldview, we must respect each other’s contributions.
What I feel like Wilson—and likely others in his subculture of scientists—fails to realize is that so much of what science discovers supports the worldview of Biblical Creation. Take, for example, his scientific theory of biophilia. The Genesis record tells us that we are created to be the caretakers of the Creation, so it only makes sense that we humans were created by our God with a natural desire to live in harmony with the rest of The Creation. Another example is the scientific theory of Gaia that, despite being named for a pagan “mother earth” goddess from ancient mythology, proposes that the entire Earth is one whole living entity that requires all life within it to thrive in one massive symbiosis. I discuss this in great detail in my article EARTH: A Living Creature. If that doesn’t support the idea of intelligent design I don’t know what does!
Wilson proposes that the evidence only supports his atheist view of evolution, but I see a major problem with that. In her book Christianity Is Jewish, a phenomenal work that places the Christian faith back in its rightful place as a form of Judaism, Edith Shaeffer says the following:
“In the beginning God.” That is to say, in the beginning a Person—an Infinite Person, but truly a person. In the beginning thinking, acting, feeling, love, communication, ideas, choice, creativity. Yes, in the beginning this God who made man in His image. Personality already existing. A personal universe created by a Person. A “people-oriented universe” created by a Person. A universe with fulfillment in it for the aspirations of artists, poets, musicians, landscape gardeners, because been created by an Artist, Poet, Musician, Landscape Gardener. Man made in the image One who is Creator … so that man is made to be creative. Bach, Beethoven, Tolstoy, Leonardo di Vinci … not accidental arrangements of molecules by chance creating, but men made in the image of God who are amazing because they are men with capabilities of both appreciating what other people create, and of creating themselves, in a variety of areas. Compassion not suddenly appearing out of nowhere, but compassion already there in the One who made man in His image.
I would venture to say, contrary to Wilson’s belief that the evidence supports evolution, that there is no valid evidence to support evolution at all. Shaeffer goes on to say that perhaps the biggest problem with the view of evolution is, “…to think of having faith to believe in order coming out of chaos, by chance. We have no example to see, no test tube where it is being done today.”
Think about it. The Bible says that God created human beings in His own image and after His own likeness. And look at all that humanity has created! And it’s not just people; there are so many examples in nature. Birds create nests. Bees form hives. Spiders weave webs. Beavers build dams. It is amazing how many things are created by The Creation.
Do you know what there is no known example of, either in nature or in the laboratories of the world of science? A living organism forming completely on its own from non-life. Science has yet to observe or create what is the absolute most important thing for evolutionary theory to be true! And in reality, should science create a scenario where they can observe such a phenomenon, the scientists still put all the pieces together to make it happen so it would still only prove that life was created by intelligent design as it was their initial influence on the situation that initiated the ultimate outcome anyway.
But whether it is structures that are created or the creation of new life through sexual reproduction, there are billions of observable examples of things being created by a life forms intelligent enough to create these things. The Creation… I know it sounds unbelievable, atheist… WAS CREATED!
Humanity has a natural instinct to dwell in nature: Yahweh’s Creation. This is only a logical conclusion if not an observable phenomenon considering that the very first thing God instructed man to do was to tend and care for His Creation. Adam was placed in charge of both stewarding and naming all other life. This is the purpose for which God created man from the beginning.
Today man, for the most part, has succumbed to the worldly system of the city, a governing structure that traces back to the earliest Mesopotamian-type societies that created central towers where humanity began to eliminate the need for reliance on nature and the created order, thus also eliminating (so they thought) the need for God. But man still hungers for the natural world.
Today millions, if not billions, of dollars are spent by people who are trapped in the lifestyle of the city so that they can get just a taste of that which they long for: nature. From camping trips in established park lands and wildlife reserves to backyard birding to even a simple potted house plant, people will spend their hard-earned money for just a moment in the world that God created, an escape from the cities of men.
Some will argue that there is no virgin land left on this planet, no place left on the surface of the Earth where humanity has not impacted it. Yet, that itself is not really an issue because we were called from the very beginning—Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:15—to positively impact and influence nature. The problem has never really been in man’s actual altering of The Creation, but in how humanity has approached altering it. Doing things that are destructive to the natural world—whether it be the smallest of living creatures, entire ecosystems, your own body, and everything in between—literally, according to Revelation 11:18, puts you on God’s hit list. And, as I have heard said regarding other topics of biblical morality, to permit is to participate. You might not be the one actually doing the destroying, but are you supporting it? Believe it or not, I have actually seen many professing Christians (even in Messianic and Hebrew Roots circles) that endorse such atrocities as genetically modifying food-bearing plants, the use of herbicides and pesticides in farming, and many other “technological advances” that ultimately are a part of the overall systematic destruction of this planet we call home.
Take a moment and think of an animal that you either find to be among the most disgusting or the most frightening on Earth. If you thought of a “gross” animal you might be thinking of something like an earthworm, an octopus, a rat, a snake, a frog, or some other creature that is not very appealing. If a scary animal you may have chosen a grizzly bear, a lion, or a great white shark. Perhaps if you know a thing or two about nature you even selected a cape buffalo as the most terrifying animal on Earth.
Now I want you to consider, as you keep your focus on this single creature and it continues to gross you out or drive fear into your heart, that God made this animal and He loves it. Think about that. God loves this creature, the creature you hold such a negative view of, because He made it and in making it He poured out some of Himself into it. Shouldn’t we, created in His image and likeness, love and care for this creature as well?
I’m not saying you should dig up earthworms in your yard so you can hold them in your hand and caress them. That would be weird. Unless perhaps you are going fishing, there is really not a reason to pick up worms and hold them anyway. But when you understand the importance these tiny creatures have in creating soil rich in nutrients for growing produce, you will certainly come to appreciate them and want to support their life. Neither am I saying that we should go into the wilderness of Alaska looking for grizzly bears or the heart of Africa looking for lions. That would be dangerous and you could end up becoming dinner for these magnificent beasts. But these top-level predators hold a vital role in the balance of life in their ecosystems and as such we should love these fearsome beasts and, from a safe distance, work to support their continued life on this planet.
If you really want to know the heart of God, it is in His Creation. Some would say that the Earth would be a better place without this creature or that one. Even flies and mosquitos are important to God and His Creation. The one that kamikazes on your arm and gets smacked for biting you is perhaps insignificant to the billions who are fulfilling their role in Creation, but the loss of the entire species would be tragic.
The loss of even a single species, plant or animal, to extinction cuts deep into the heart of our God—YOUR God, Christian man or woman. Whatever creatures are forever eliminated from the surface of the Earth by human beings are creatures that our God created. While human beings may hold that unique distinction of being made in the image and likeness of God Himself, all of Creation came out of Him. It was His very same breath of life—His Ruach—that breathed life into each and every living organism on this planet. It must break His heart every time we humans put Him in a position to watch as we annihilate a species, be it plant or animal life, to the point of extinction and He has to watch the very last one pass from life to death, never to be seen again by it’s Creator.
Think about this: Our God, the God of The Bible, the God we as Believers in Yahweh, followers of Yeshua, and recipients of His Spirit of Holiness, is also the God of Creation. He is the God of the fish in the sea and the birds in the air. He is the God of the beasts that roam across the land. He is the God of the trees in the forest and the flowers in the fields. He is the God of worms and flies and frogs and snakes and every single creature that He created to live in this world. He is their God too and the moment a living being is driven to extinction is the moment YOUR God is no longer able to be praised in the way that He created that species to praise Him, a way that only that species can praise Him. He created that life form to praise Him in a very specific way that no other living being, not even human beings, can praise Him. And when the last of a species dies, so also dies God’s ability to be praised by that creature ever again. Let EVERYTHING that has breath praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:6)
Wilson’s call to Christians and scientists alike claims that the world can literally become Eden once again, a real paradise. But in order for that to happen, we all have to be committed to doing what it takes to first cause nature to thrive and second to carry it alongside of us. What scientists like Wilson seem to be ignorant of, however, is that the only thing that can lead us to that goal is the Torah.
In reading and studying The Bible from the perspective of humanity’s original assignment in the first two chapters of Genesis, to take care of Yahweh’s Creation, I have found that every commandment seems to always go right back to this original commandment. As Dr. Dinah Dye points out in her books The Temple Revealed In Creation: A Portrait Of The Family and The Temple Revealed In The Garden: Priests And Kings, the model of the Tabernacle/Temple goes back to the Creation and Eden. As I have discussed many times in previous articles, such commandments as the food laws, farming instructions, regulations on fabrics and clothing, and many other things in Torah all relate to the design of Creation that goes all the way back to Genesis 1 and 2. Ultimately, everything is about getting back to Eden: God’s Garden.
Every single commandment in The Bible goes back to those first commandments we humans were given: 1. Be fruitful and multiply, and 2. Take care of the planet God placed us on. No matter what the commandment is, if it’s in The Bible, it has something to do with Genesis Chapters 1 and 2. I wish there will come a day when Christians would stop arguing about commandments, trying to figure out ways they can justify in their mind not obeying commandments, and just do what The Bible says.
Clearly nothing in The Bible indicates that God intends on destroying His masterpiece, His Creation. Quite the contrary. He loves His Creation. So, the only question that remains, you who claim you are a Believer: Will you accept the call to fulfill your true purpose, return to Eden, and take care of the Creation of your God?
~Blessings and Shalom~
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