A Biblical Perspective on Environmentalism: Man's Rule

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

In the scale of relative value, a man—a human being—is of considerably more worth than any of the animals. Jesus said, “Aren’t two sparrows sold for a copper coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will…. So, don’t be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows,” (Matt. 10:29, 31; see also Luke 12:6-7). The ubiquitous and commonplace sparrows are of only minuscule economic and other value individually, very much less than a man (and, incidentally, have no “rights” per se). And yet they are not altogether “worthless.” As God’s direct creation, they, like man, have inherent worth and purpose in their existence. So there is this “tension” in man’s relationship with the animals—at one and the same time, they are worth less than he, yet they are not completely worthless.

This principle of valuing human life over animal life is found in the Law given at Sinai: “If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, then the ox shall surely be stoned,” (Exod. 21:28a). An animal—a creature subservient to man by God’s design and appointment (Gen. 1:26-28)—that harms its superior in God’s order of subordination, is to be exterminated (see also Gen. 9:4). This same principle may have been involved in the judgment meted out on the literal snake in Eden which was used by—possessed by—Satan (Gen. 3:14) to bring harm to mankind, the crown of God’s creation. It is common practice even in India, where animal life is excessively venerated due to Hindu religious teaching, to kill man-eating tigers, and rightly so. We commonly and entirely reasonably kill animals that pose a real and immediate danger to human life and health—poisonous spiders and poisonous snakes, rabid skunks, feral pigs, dogs and cats, grizzlies and mountain lions, disease-carrying mosquitoes and rats, sharks and more that intrude into human habitat.

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The Creation Narratives

NickImage(First published January 13, 2006)

The God Who appears in the creation narrative of Genesis 1 is a good, benevolent being. He fashions humanity in His image, placing people in a good world made for their use. He pronounces His blessing upon humans, then initiates a rest that implies delight in Him and His works.

The goodness of this God is further highlighted in the second creation narrative, which occupies Genesis 2:5‐24. In this narrative, Moses recapitulates the story of creation with a significant shift in perspective. This retelling of the story allows him to focus the reader’s attention more specifically upon God’s purpose for humanity.

God’s goodness is emphasized from the beginning of the account. The original creation had no weeds, no harsh weather, and no hard labor. Rather, God provided everything for the man whom He created, placing him in a garden or sheltered park. Moses specifies the location of this garden by naming four rivers that would have been familiar to the people of his day. The Tigris (Hiddekel) and Euphrates are known to moderns. The Pison is unknown. The Gihon, while not known, is said to flow through the land of Cush, which places it somewhere in the western Arabian peninsula or east Africa. The Gihon may be another name for the Nile (though this is doubtful). It could be another reference to the “River of Egypt” that evidently marked the border of that country.

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An Atheist Evolutionist Asks a Good Question of Dr. Peter Enns

“For a long time now BioLogos has ignored its initial mission of trying to convert evangelical Christians to evolution. It didn’t work—as I predicted—because those Christians know that if you buy Darwinian evolution, then you have to see much of the Bible as either fictional or at best metaphorical.

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