Two weeks ago, I was invited to Berkeley Divinity School at Yale to give a couple talks on the Catechism of Creation, a teaching tool and discussion aid dealing with creation, evolution, science, and stewardship. I highly recommend the catechism and drew up some responses to preliminary questions. Those responses are posted in three sections. The first deals with the theology of creation and the second with science and creation. This one deals with our obligations in light of our understanding: caring for creation. Thank you to John Hainze for the questions.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR CREATION
Why should Christian’s care about creation?
We should care because we care about God and God made it. We should care because God asked us to care for the Garden. We should care because present and future humans live in close association with thousands of other species. Their fate is our fate.
What is the source of this obligation?
Love for God and neighbor commanded in the Bible, a history of relationship, and reasoned hope for the future of our children.
What is the human relationship to creation?
We are stewards, with a unique, though not necessarily exclusive, ability to use reason and revelation for the common good.
THE STATE OF CREATION TODAY
Should Christians be concerned about the state of creation today?
One of the results of human brokenness, whether you call it original sin or by some other name, is that we have acted without love in the present and without hope for the future. In particular, our economy sets up certain incentives for individuals to neglect the common good and the future good. I believe material waste and short term thinking are grave sins leading to separation from God and neighbor.
What concerns about creation would you highlight?
I am particularly concerned that we learn to approach the rest of creation as >one among many< and not as >us versus them<. I believe this to be one of the most fundamental temptations and see it played out in both personal and public actions. I hope to overcome fear of sickness and death with a greater appreciation of our relationships to the micro-organisms that live on, in, and with us. I hope to preserve biological diversity for it’s own sake, out of curiosity in the wonders God has wrought. I hope to encourage thoughtfulness about the ways our waste can harm other species and the chemical cycles of the world.
HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS RESPOND
How can we live in right relationship to creation?
That’s such a big question. I believe fostering true curiosity, critical thinking, and compassionate stewardship is the place to start.
Are there specific actions we should take?
Spend some time getting to know a non-human species really well and – this is important – for its own sake, not for how it benefits humanity.
What is your vision for the future of creation?
I think the future of creation is the New Creation in Christ – a time when every plant and animal and bacterium will be in harmony and we will more fully know the will of God for the world. I don’t know how we’ll get there, but I suspect science and the Church will have very important roles to play.