Today, I want to talk about Christianity, the animal kingdom, and the environment. Christian faith has got some very interesting ideas in it which are largely ignored by Christians today.
Nowadays, it seems the faith is typically centered on emotional dramas, trauma, and fear. These ideas have a lot of reason to them and there are some viable warnings among them.
Look, for example, at the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Man is given dominion over the animals. God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Why do you think it was so important to the individuals who carried that story forward to express that man was sovereign over the animal kingdom?
I understand that there are a lot of different versions of the Bible, but in all of them, it’s clear that animals are placed under our charge. In other words, the animal kingdom is our responsibility; this may be the clearest way to put it. So it’s our responsibility to ensure that the animals do well and that they’re cared for.
It doesn’t say anything about how we raise them or what we do with the mead or the fur. It doesn’t really say much about what to avoid or what to partake in with regard to them, but it definitely put us in charge of their care and their protection. We know this to mean that we should protect their environments, their genetic diversity, and so forth.
Now that we know more, it should be a lot easier for us to do this. If we create an environment that’s inhospitable to a large number of our animal friends and even our plant friends, then we are expressly defying this mandate.
I don’t know if the bible also specifies the plant kingdom as being under our dominion, but we most certainly were part of the process of naming the species in it. It’s kind of a situation in which we are the brains of the operation.
We’re the ones who can think and change things; we can build structures; we can divert rivers. Just look at how we have transformed the face of the earth. We’ve sent ships to every corner of the globe. We’ve harnessed molecular energy and nuclear phenomena.
None of these things would have happened without humans. Humans may never have gotten to that place without dogs. When we domesticated dogs, it made a huge difference to our ability to herd sheep and protect our own communities.
Dogs offer a certain degree of protection and they get a lot in exchange for that. They offer protection and companionship. They’re easily trainable so we have been able to teach them to herd sheep and do a number of other things for us. The relationship we have with them has been extremely valuable.
We are in charge of these animals and that means the creatures of ocean, air, and land alike. There are so many endangered species today which we are trying to conserve, but at the same time there are so many conflicting interests.
On the one hand, we say “…yeah, we need to take care of some burrowing owl or some thrash on the edge of extinction in some far flung location,” yet at the same time, just building a building on the wrong island can overturn an ecosystem and disrupt several species.
The animals didn’t become this diverse by accident, and when we start to dismantle pieces of the intricate network of nature, it may or may not affect the whole. There may be regenerative properties which certain animals can provide. Perhaps they provide protection for an entire network of other species in some way.
Every species is most certainly an integral part of the food chain, for a start. Just think about rainwater becoming more acidic and jellyfish becoming predominant in waters where there were once a myriad other fish species.
We are doing everything apart from taking care of the animal kingdom. We are squandering our precious resources, and Christians are just supporting business and industry and seem to have a complete disregard for this important mandate.
It’s interesting what’s happened; the business community has co-opted the fears and the moral obligations of Christianity by helping to promote the notion of anti-abortion sentiment as well as helping to reduce environmental regulations and any other regulations previously placed on industry. It goes directly against what their religion tells them to do. They just deny it and they only seem to consider their own economic successes.
It’s as though the Christians of today haven’t really studied the Bible, but only read the parts that they were advised to read. They haven’t really gone into it and tried to figure out what their God is trying to communicate. There were so many texts that were not included in the Bible and Christians can’t even agree on the parts that were. The fact that they agree on anything is a miracle.
Even the Muslim faith acknowledges the Bible and its teachings. The Koran even gives more detail on some of the teachings, although it gives less on others. Their emphasis is very different and they believe that Christians got the message wrong. They believe that today’s Christianity is not in harmony with the original teachings.
So there are a good number of things which are not necessarily the way that we think them to be. Either way, today’s Christians, charged with taking care of things, have let their guard down. They have ignored their duties. They are not taking responsibility for the problems that they are creating. Yet they somehow think they are righteous enough to be the judge of others.
They promote war and a variety of non-Christian activities and yet the very first mandate they were given, they choose to ignore. It’s sad because they lose the opportunity to understand their God. Their God exists in these animals yet they pay no attention. And they act as though God is only for humans and the Earth is only for humans. They seem to think that the other things that exist in the world are just bothersome, unnecessary bits.
So they miss the understanding, right off the bat, of what it means to be in charge of the animals. They have gotten so busy developing comforts and means of warfare which will allow them to thrive, that they have forgotten their original mission, the reason they were put here in the first place.
If our brains were told that they had dominion over the rest of our bodies (which they know they are), the decisions we make, our ability to move, and then we start thinking “Oh that’s not important. It’s not important for me to have the correct blood pressure; I’m really just here to celebrate God. Just take me to the church and let me sing on Sundays.” Is that not in defiance of God’s will?
“It doesn’t matter what damage I do to my body and the bodies of others. It doesn’t matter what damage I do to the lives of those around me, that stuff is not important as long as I can do my thing on Sunday and God loves me.”
Some “Christians” get involved in charity missions. They fly to Haiti or Africa or to fight Ebola or build a school, and then they come back and everybody congratulates them on a job well done. They don’t worry about how they’re harming their bodies by eating processed foods and drinking or how they’re supporting the corporations which are destroying the habitats of thousands of species.
We should not be supporting any company that uses wood from a rainforest. We should not be giving them any money, we have no way of knowing though. That’s the problem.
A “free market” doesn’t work here because there is no free market. When all that oil was pumped into the Gulf of Mexico, I couldn’t reconcile that I had no way of dealing with it. British Petroleum was responsible and so they and some of the builders got fined. There was no way of boycotting them, however.
How would one go about doing that? I could stop going to Valero Gas Stations but that wouldn’t really make a difference. Those gas stations aren’t loyal to the company that sponsors them, necessarily. They buy gas from whichever refinery it comes from and then they put their additives in it. They sell the same gas that everybody else sells, so boycotting that particular gas station doesn’t really have much of an impact.
Besides, how do you know if that oil is being used to make fuel or if it’s being used to make cosmetics or being used in vehicle parts in some way, or in something else? I don’t know enough about it to be able to say who provided the oil and what they intend to do with it.
The fact is we’ve really got our work cut out for us.
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