Let’s take a look at Genesis 1:28-30.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
I bring up this verse because I want to look at mankind’s role in taking care of the earth, and understanding this role is important in light of environmental issues such as global warming and energy sources. When talking to various Christians, two main viewpoints come about.
1. God has provided on this earth exactly what we need. God has told us to fill the earth and subdue it, and He does so without qualification. Also, I trust that the earth will have enough resources to last us until the coming of Christ.
2. We are supposed to be more wise in our use of natural resources and ensure that what we do to the earth will not strongly impact future generations in a negative way. While God does not explicitly command us to conserve energy, one would expect that God expects us to use wisdom in our care of the earth, in the same way that He expects us to wisely manage our finances or our property.
I can understand both points of view, and I do not really know where I am. I can see the virtues in both. The first places trust that God will give us exactly what we need, but the second viewpoint – which does not negate God’s providence in any way stresses wisdom in management of the earth.
I don’t have that much to say on the topic; I just wanted to present these two different viewpoints that I have seen in Christianity. I do not have any articles to link to, these are just the viewpoints I have gathered just by talking to people.
I do want to make a couple of points however.
1) Humans are not parasites. Some of the more extreme environmentalists – not the norm – would be happy if most of the population was wiped out, due to consumption of natural resources. I will say that I do not believe overpopulation is a problem. Granted, one should not have more kids than they can feed, but God says “be fruitful and multiply” and He does so without qualification. Yes, the “subdue the earth” is without qualification as well, but we subdue the earth for resources, and one can argue that these resources are limited, so we do not subdue it as much. The point is, “subdue the earth” is open to more interpretation; “be fruitful and multiply” is less so. Anyway, humans should never, ever be seen as a liability, and I believe that any measure to discourage population growth encourages this viewpoint.
2) The earth is here for us, we are not here for the earth. Again, this does not give license to reckless disregard for the earth, but I do think we should have our priorities correct. In my view, Genesis 1 seems to favor the viewpoint that the earth is here for us. It has an overall tone that man (I use man in the broad sense, not a specific gender) has dominion over everything else. Again, this viewpoint can easily encompass varying environmental views, I am just saying we should have our priorities straight.
Just a few thoughts.