Extinction

A Biblical Perspective on Environmentalism: The Extinction of Species

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

All species, or “kinds” (to use the term employed in the English Bible), of animals and plants are God’s deliberate creations, and as a consequence had in the past and do have in the present their niche in the complex “natural world,” though their originally harmonious contribution may have subsequently become decidedly warped and distorted by the fall of man. Even the most unremarkable species may be of particular value to mankind (though direct usefulness to man is not the ultimate standard of value). I think of the armadillo. This species is of no apparent direct economic value to man (though some folks in Texas are reported to hunt and eat them) and in fact is often a nuisance as it digs burrows in pastures and farm and garden fields. Yet, only in the past half-century was it discovered to be susceptible to Hansen’s disease—leprosy—as no other species is, except man. Armadillos immediately became recognized as valuable in lab research aimed at producing a vaccine or an antidote for leprosy. (And, by the way, yes, it is proper and right for man to use animals in laboratory research in pursuit of medical remedies for numerous human ailments. And of course, treating such research animals humanely is to be expected and insisted upon.)

Modern animal extinctions are nothing new. There have been numerous animal extinctions or near-extinctions in the past to most of which man has not directly contributed. Of course, the greatest near-extinction of animals occurred in the historic Flood of Genesis 6-8. Besides destroying and burying multiple billions, even trillions of sea-dwelling creatures of all classes, as well as numerous plant species, it also destroyed all air-breathing land creatures except those preserved on the ark. After the Flood, there were numerous varieties of the preserved kinds that appeared, multiplied, and then went extinct in subsequent centuries. The first to come to mind, of course, would be the dinosaurs, which indeed were part of the zoological cargo on the ark (no doubt juvenile pairs), but have become extinct since. Similarly with the woolly mammoths and mastodons (varieties of the original elephant “kind” rather than separate “species,” I suspect). Though once numbering in the millions, they died out in relatively short order (likely due to “climate change” in the post-ice age epoch) from factors all but entirely outside human control (evidence of human hunting of mammoths is very limited). Other examples of such post-Flood extinctions include giant sloths, saber-tooth cats, and more.

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