I came to value Creation Care 50 years too late.
When Fledge Fiamingo started Son Safaris I got involved, frankly, because of Fledge, rather than out of any great zeal for God’s creation. I am indebted to Son Safaris for drawing me into a deeper appreciation of creation and my place in it. That motivated me to try to understand and obey God’s mandate in Genesis 1:28(NIV):
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
God created humans in His image as his representatives on earth to “rule over” the rest of creation. Rule implies lordship but not exploitation. As God’s representatives, we must rule His subjects, as He does: for their own good.
We have the right to use the world’s resources but have no right to abuse what God has created. This Biblical principle has made me ask why we humans behave in ways that are harmful to ourselves and to the environment. Understanding why we engage in such aberrant behavior toward God’s creation is key to helping us change our behavior.
Do we practice behaviors harmful to the environment because we aren’t aware of the negative impact our actions have? If so, then education and increased public awareness should stop our harmful behavior. How has that worked out? Not very well. We’ve pumped massive amounts of environmental facts into our school curicula, TV shows, movies, and social media without seeing proportionate behavioral changes.
So, what will it take to get us to change from creation destruction to creation care? Facts alone are not enough. They must be effectively paired with our individual values, motivations and convictions to effect the desired behavioral changes.
Faith based environment groups are critical to this process since more than 80% of all humans identify as persons of Faith. Faith influences not just our beliefs, but our understanding of the world and our preferences toward it. Our faith reinforces our behavior or provides the motivation to change it. Our faith provides a moral framework for both our individual behavior and our social interactions.
I am a faith-based person, but I am not a Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Buddhist. I am a Christian. So going forward I will speak not just as a faith based person but specifically as a Christian.
Christian Creation Care groups can be a powerful tool for producing a more sustainable world. How? By leading by example. Sociological studies show that when Christians set specific goals based on their faith, they monitor themselves and are more disciplined in meeting them than non faith based people. Balancing meeting human needs with protecting natural resources is the key to a sustainable future . Achieving this balance will require a massive shift in attitude and behavior. I believe earth scientists and activists need what Christian and other faith based groups bring to the table in order to accomplish attitudinal and behavioral changes at the scale required.
Christian groups like Son Safaris and environmental groups like the Welgevonden Research Camp can cooperate because they both hold a similar view of how humanity fits in the context of the larger world. Both groups see humans as part of and yet separate from the rest of the environment. Both Christian and environmental groups agree that we humans are biological components of our world and therefore the well-being of our ecosystem is directly affected by our behavor. Both groups believe that when we ignore our connection to the Creation we end up destroying both ourselves and the Earth.
I believe the common ground between Christians and conservationists is the belief that sustainability begins with letting go of our own self-importance and awakening to our kinship with all of creation.
Christians value nature, as seen in the Biblical concepts of stewardship of creation and compassion for all life. This common ground is what allows us to work with environmental groups and wildlife reserves. Together we are stronger than we are apart. Together we not only motivate but validate earth friendly behavioral,
Being part of Son Safaris for more than 10 years has taught me that Christians and conservationists are not at odds with one another. On the contrary, we each make the other more aware that we are all in this together—with the same goal: to stop the abuse of God’s creation.
I came to value Creation Care 50 years too late. What about you?