November 24, 2008
Global scarcity was not an issue when humanity was one tribe, several tribes, or only a million people per continent. The Bible was not written during a period when even one billion people, let alone several billion, inhabited the planet. At some point, scarcity is an issue. Whether that point is 3 billion people, 6 billion people, or 100 billion people, if water continues to evaporate off the oceans at the same rate it always has, then we can reach a point where there are too many people for that water. Likewise, when one tenth of the world's population can have use of all the oil, steel, copper, etc. in the world, there may be enough, but when the rest of humanity catches up, there isn't any more. The sad part is, whole cultures do not change course because someone preached that they should, we only change course when disaster or at least painful scarcity forces us to. We could do a lot by looking at every scrap of metal and plastic as our raw material source for new production, which eventually it will be, just like recycling water. But then, when we have it all in circulation, there will be only so much to use at any point in time. Maybe replenishing the earth means we need to stop being so fruitful and reduce our multiplying.
What would an unwise choice be in terms of resource stewardship, other than hoarding?
This is a well-stated argument for the Christian who can easily forget the significance of our season on earth through all of our Scripture study and theologies. It's difficult to maintain that balance of trusting God to provide, and fulfilling our responsibilities as stewards to provide for ourselves and others. Ultimately we can trust God for both but mankind is fully involved.<br><br>The Psalms as well as the creation story continually repeat the fact that "The earth is good... Creation is good... It is good... God is good... He feeds everybody... He provides an abundant supply...." meaning that He provides mankind's necessary resources from the earth. Indeed, all one has to do is take a glance at any part of the earth and notice the ongoing vitality of life upon it. Therefore it is highly doubtful that God would create an insufficient earth for any number of people inhabiting it within the future.<br><br>The global scarcity theory is based on assumption rather than physical evidence and it has been a problem throughout history. Pharaoh had a dream that there would be a famine in the land and out of fear, began a socialist slave society in order to regulate everything. Hitler also attempted to control population out of fear.<br><br>Sin, lack of human knowledge, as well as their consequences, such as disease and air pollution, naturally plays a role in population control. A trust (based on solid and clear evidence) in the earth's higher Creator will allow people to give generously, reproduce, recycle and live naturally - instead of hoarding - is a better way to continue the life cycles, thereby maintaining the earth's abundant resources.
What is it about this planet that we don't understand? We think as humans and worry that we will use all that we have before we leave this planet. We need to conserve what we have by using it wisely, but we need to use it; that is why He gave it. The Chinese told their people to have only one child and if by chance you had another kill it. Is that conserving or just plain stupidity. This earth some call home was not made to be here for an eternity, or the Father would have done something different. Have faith that what you do to conserve is what others will do, but don't always make it so desperate. Love God and love one another, pray daily and often. God loves us and will provide as he has so many times before. In God's Grace John
I find the quote â€œWe are not running out of fresh water: the oceans are evaporating at the same rate they always have.â€ is a very clever half truth. It is true that, when compared to ocean or salt water, there is just as much fresh water as there has always been. However many of us think of potable water when we think of fresh water. As we continue to pollute our rivers, streams, lakes, ground water and air (think acid rain) our supply of potable (fresh) water is declining. Lakes in some populated areas of the world are drying up and will soon be gone. For those people there is a very real scarcity of water. As far as scarcity of water not being supported by the Bible, one needs only read the book of revelation.<br>I agree that â€œChristians should embrace our role as careful and thoughtful stewards of this world while rejecting the fear-mongering that leads to unwise choices.â€ Unfortunately most people that reject fear-mongering do so to maintain the status quo.
The problem with going back to Genesis to find answers to ecological questions is that it is not entirely clear how it applies. God told Adam to "fill the earth and subdue it," and I know we'd like to interpret that as tree-hugging, but I just don't see it there. To subdue is what Genghis Khan did to most of Central Europe; it is to conquer and, yes, exploit. So I think we need to find a new basis for a Christian ethic in regards to the ecology. <br><br>How about this? Let's begin from the idea that all things have a right to their own existence, a right, if you will, to be left alone; and the higher up they are on the scale of being, the greater that right is. Man is the highest on the scale; therefore his right to existence is supreme, and he is entitled to sacrifice other beings to perpetuate his own life. He has a moral right to cut down trees to build houses, to slaughter animals and eat them. But he only has the right to sacrifice other beings in this way to satisfy genuine needs. He has a right to slaughter cattle, eat their meat and turn their hides into leather; he does not have the right to drive other species to extinction or to kill just for fun. He has a moral obligation to respect the God-given existence of other beings, except in situations when his moral obligation to support his own life overrides this obligation. <br><br>This is just the germ of an idea, but I think it is on something like this that we can build an ethic of Christian environmentalism. That such a thing is necessary is very obvious. We are all familiar with Christians who say that Jesus is coming back soon, so it does not matter how badly we trash the earth. Talk like that brings all believers into disrepute, and it is not Biblical.
Governments as well as well intentioned people love to rule by fear. Fear that this will happen or that will happen. At the end of the day it is the damage that we do to each other that makes this world such a mad house. There are some events that are not controlled by man. Some of them are. I agree that we should not pollute our cities or towns. I agree that we shouldn't do many of the things that we do. But remember that all things created were for the benefit of man (humans). Those resources are ours to use, God given. <br><br>I end with a story: a Christian friend of mine one day threw his soda bottle (plastic) out of my car window while driving. I asked him why he did that. His response: This world is going to burn anyway. What an odd response.
There are a variety of responses I have about this but due to time I'm just going to throw in one comment. I don't see anywhere in the biblical narrative that says the world was made for us. True we are told to go out and cultivate/tend (which is the word some translations put as subdue) but even as its strongest translation that still doesn't mean the world is simple a tool for our pleasure. No where, that I'm aware of, is the world described in a situation where it is simply around for us to use as we see fit. <br><br>Instead it is cultivation, growing things, raising things, living with and alongside our other creatures and while we are still above the rest of creation (and a little lower than the angels) that doesn't mean we get to be demagogues with our environment.
China is paying a terrible price for the fact that, when their population was about half a billion, Mao Zedong said roughly the same thing many have said here, denounced any attempt to limit population, and also had an eye on the military potential of overwhelming manpower. Now, China really is having trouble finding space and resources for over one billion people. A reasonable program of voluntary family planning in 1950 would have stabilized the country at a much lower population, greater prosperity, and less competitiveness, jealousy, selfishness, violence, greed...
Amen. The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.
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