Why Belief in Creation is important
Not many decades ago the doctrine of creation was almost ignored within the churches , but today things have changed and creation is to the fore.
The first chapter of Genesis speaks of creation in six days. Some get bogged down and think that is what Christians actually believe.
But 1600 years ago St Augustine had got it right!
Then in the Nicene Creed we say, “We believe in one God, …,maker of heaven and earth”. After four hundred years of modern science we need to accept the vast age of the earth and evolution.
Anything else is “alternative fact”.
Our Christian faith does not tell us what our science should be, but rather how we should see the natural world, how to use it and recognise its originator.
So how should we treat the natural world? There has often been careless exploitation, resulting in gross pollution. At the other extreme some want hug every tree and view nature so mystically that they can scarcely use it. (But they do!)
Let’s put it under three heads;
1.Worship God as Creator.
We must always see that God is creator and that his Glory is seen in nature. Now we see it in frosts and bursting snowdrops. We need to develop this so we see the Creator both in the smallest things, like dew on a spider’s web, and in the awesome like mountains in snow. It is something we can do daily.
These photos show some of the beauty of the British countryside and the ones below are from my garden and a churchyard
There is always something to find, if you look
O all ye green things of the earth, bless ye the Lord
2 Use creation, i.e. the earth’s resources, wisely.
To live, we need food, materials whether grown or extracted, and, unless we wish to return to poverty, we use a lot. Our energy is from fossil fuels and will be for decades despite some claims. The metals we use are dug out of the ground, smelted and cause pollution. Farming takes over tracts of land thus reducing wilderness. Without these we would either starve or die young. This is something some Greens do not want to grasp.
However human activity does cause environmental dame as with this opencast coal mine and drainage of peat in the Pennines for grouse shooting which allows 10ft of peat to blow away and be a factor in floods. This old trig pillar was on a level with the peat 100 yrs ago but erosion meant it was 10 ft in the air. It was knocked over for safety
I could discuss this at length, but we need to find a way of enabling all people to live comfortably, control pollution and environmental damage and , above all, find ways of restoring areas damaged by mining, industry or land usage. Today we can see the effects with loss of wildlife and biodiversity, increased flooding (in the river Wyre basin where I live, it may well be due to peat damage and tree loss rather than climate change), pollution from all sources and climate change.
The solution is global, governmental and personal. Personal actions are vital whether turning lights off, growing plants to attract wildlife and many other things.
3. Think of others.
We may live in a comfortable environment with greenspaces, wildlife and creature comforts, but many in our world do not. Parts of our cities lack green spaces and suffer from air pollution. Many parts of the world have dirty water, limited food and energy and are grossly polluted. The pollution of the Ganges is our concern as well. Do we care? and why should we care?
Part of this we see in the mandate of Genesis 1 vs 28, but this does not take environmental issues into consideration as that was not an issue in 1000BC. It is often interpreted so we should EXPLOIT, rather than CARE, for the earth. It is only in the last 30 years that churches have shown concern for the environment. Before that a minority of individuals did.
We need to start from the Creator and his Creation, and think of the first great commandment “You shall love the Lord your God…” Simplistically that means if we love God we will love what he has made, i.e. the whole of his creation.
And the Second is like”You shall love your neighbour as yourself” and that means we will want others to have their share of creation and not wreck it. Thus environmental concerns also stem from the second commandment.
Taking the two commandments together, we are obliged to love and care for the creation
To sum up, if we love God our Creator and love our neighbour we will also love God’s creation.
The third great commandment should be
“Thou shalt love God’s creation, because…….
I have deliberately left out dealing with particular green issues as my focus is on a Christian understanding of the creation and thus the environment. As soon as we get to specifics there is controversy. Part of that can be selective or biased information, a practice carried out both by environmentalists and others, epitomised by the tobacco lobby.
This is a very simple Christian case for environmentalism and will not please sophisticats, but I suggest it is better for most as a starting point.
Finally, no environmental understanding can be had without taking all scientific issues into consideration and so St Augustine’s strictures from 400AD still apply to us as we want to clean up and nurture our planet.