Today is Earth Day—and it’s a special Earth Day this year (and not just because it’s falling in the middle of a global pandemic!). It’s special because this year marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Earth Day. It began on April 22, 1970, with mass protests against pollution and what was called “environmental ignorance.” That April day is considered the beginning of the modern environmental movement worldwide.
How should Christians view this day? Well, we should recognize that those protests back in 1970 did a lot of good. Even though many participating in the protests were not Christians (and much of the movement, and their methods, were questionable, even back then), caring for the environment is a biblical principle and comes from a Christian worldview. At the very beginning, humans were given what’s called the “dominion mandate”:
And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Genesis 1:26).
We have a reason to care for creation and not abuse it for our own purposes . . . or neglect it because of our own apathy.
We’re to “have dominion” over everything God made. This means we’re to use and care for creation for our good and God’s glory. Understanding that, we have a reason to care for creation and not abuse it for our own purposes . . or neglect it because of our own apathy. In contrast, the evolutionary worldview of “survival of the fittest” has a hard time justifying care for creation (that’s not to say they don’t care—many do, even to the point of worship—but they cannot really justify it within their own worldview). Many secularists have actually allowed the environment have dominion over man.
We must also recognize the worshipful (idolatrous) attitude behind much of the environmental movement. Rather than understand creation’s purpose and man’s responsibility correctly, many have twisted care for creation into a worship of creation. In this view, man is a blight on the planet and animals and plants have a higher value than man. It’s a twisted view that distorts God’s very good design for us as stewards of his creation.
Ultimately, we shouldn’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Caring for creation is vital—we’ve been commanded to by God. But we should not worship creation or treat it as more important than eternal souls, made in God’s very image. And as Christians, we recognize that the creation is fallen—suffering from the effects of sin and the curse (Genesis 3). This means man can do things to change the environment to improve it!
An excellent resource on a Christian view of the environmental movement is A Different Shade of Green by biologist Dr. Gordon Wilson. I encourage you to thoughtfully read it, especially as the radical actions taken to stop the coronavirus have the very real potential to translate into stopping the perceived threat of climate change. We need to be equipped to think biblically and be a reasoned voice in the midst of the clamor of radical environmental activists.
On this Earth Day, take time to thank God for his glorious creation and consider ways you and your family can better care for creation.
So on this Earth Day, take time to thank God for his glorious creation and consider ways you and your family can better care for creation. Here’s one idea—if your state allows it, head outside today with trash bags and clean up the side of the road (if it is safe, of course), a park, or your neighborhood. You’ll be out enjoying what God has made, while making it prettier for others . . . and better for the creatures that call it home.
Meditate on this passage:
But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:7–10)
God created all things by his own power—creation testifies to that each day—and he holds your life and breath in his hand. Even in this time of uncertainty, you are being held in the hand of Almighty God. Be encouraged!
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.