In our lifetime there has been a radical shift in aggregate, national religious belief: In essence and unfortunately, America has been in the process of changing horses: From the religion of Christianity to one of Radical Environmentalism. We are in the process of exchanging the worship of the Creator for the worship of His creation. This is a huge and dire error, with extreme consequences, and it presages disaster.
It is the timeless truths of Genesis 1:26-31 that have informed, guided — and dominated — American thinking in the past. Make no mistake; it is our historic moorings, cultural understanding and obedience to what God says in this passage that is the basis of America’s greatness.
My prayer is that this Bible study will help provide you with a clear, perspicuous understanding — the ability to cogently identify the differences — between these two dueling worldviews. Read on, my friend!
What has set America apart from other nations of the world has been the strong presupposition of its innovators: to steward the natural resources of the country in ways that add value to them and thereby benefit others. This premise is based on a mindset that assumes both the utility of natural resources and the value they possess to help others — the very things that God salutes when He created the world in which we live. Notice these two aspects from our passage of study this week, Genesis 1: 26-31:
Then 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.” And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The Psalmist in 8:4-8 reinforces the idea that God has given man dominion over His creation:
What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
The Psalmist reinforces the idea that man has been created in the image of God and has been given dominion over all of the earth, and if not specifically stated in these passages, elsewhere in Scripture is the idea of man living to help others (cf. Phil. 2).
WHEREAS SCRIPTURE CLEARLY TEACHES THAT MAN IS THE APEX OF GOD’S PURPOSES AND CREATION, THE PRIMARY PURPOSE AND BELIEF OF RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALISM IS THE PRESERVATION OF THE EARTH
Inevitably these worldviews clash. Certainly inherent in the Christian view of the world’s resources is idea of good stewardship, but that is not good enough for radical environmentalists, those who in essence idolize and worship the earth; theirs is the demand to limit the progress and expansion of mankind. The earth is the highest good in their way of thinking, not man; and God is to them a myth, harmless at best, but potentially dangerous. Make no mistake; there’s a big difference between secular preservationists and Christian conservationists.
One illustration of this is California water. (Please allow me, since I am from California, to take the liberty of using CA to illustrate this study, since I am intimately familiar with my state in this regard. I also have a degree in Ecosystems from UCLA). In an average year of CA rainfall, God blesses the state with 200 million acre-feet of fresh water. On average, that is enough water to supply the annual needs of 400 million households — or about 1.2 billion people, enough water to supply all the needs of India or China. Of that huge supply, only 20 million acre feet are presently utilized, the remainder is lost — allowed to flow back into the Pacific Ocean because environmentalists refuse to allow additional storage lakes to be built. And of the 20 million acre feet that is captured, 15 million goes for agriculture and only 5 million for residential use!1 In other words, only 2.5% of California’s fresh water supply is directly used by households — and yet there is an outcry to limit household usage! In fact, in order to secure tunneling under the Delta (as a substitute for the long overdue peripheral canal project) so as to deliver more northern California water to the Bay Area and Southern California (75% of the population lives in the south and 75% of the water is in the north), the Metropolitan Water District to Southern California had to agree not to expand its water usage — as if California water was somehow in short supply!
Here we have an illustration of Radical Environmentalism attempting to limit the growth of mankind in the state by curtailing the supply of water — even though there is more than enough to go around. At the core of the decades-old, heated water battle in California are dueling worldviews: one says that people are most important, the other says that the environment is.
In fact, when Governor Pat Brown, who was the State Governor from 1959 to 1967 (current Governor Jerry Brown’s father) pioneered the California Aqueduct many decades ago, the state engineers, before the religion of Radical Environmentalism prevailed, designed the aqueduct to carry three times more water to Southern California than it ever has. That is to say, the state’s religious understanding has changed between the time of his leadership and his son’s. (In all fairness, Governor Jerry Brown has championed the Delta tunnel project in lieu of the peripheral canal, which his father had envisioned from the get-go). But having given Governor Jerry credit, his tunnel project has much less capacity than his dad’s original peripheral canal plan.
Accordingly, one’s worldview inevitably determines how Public Servants and the nation as a whole utilize (or fail to utilize) their natural resources for the betterment of others.
What informs your worldview then, becomes most important. In light of this, notice what God says from the first chapter of His Book.
II. THE HIERARCHY OF GOD’S CREATIONAL ORDERING OF THE WORLD
Genesis 1:26-31 yields significant insights into the uniqueness of man that God has specified. Here God distinguishes mankind from the remainder of His creation. After creating the heavens, light, land, atmosphere and sea, God creates the fish, birds and animals (Gen. 1:1-25). Subsequent to all that, He creates man. But notice an exclusive difference: God creates man unlike any other previously created creature, in Our image, according to Our likeness2 states Genesis 1:26. This is critically important because it places man in a distinctly different position from the remainder of the created order. Both of the Hebrew words, image (tselem) and likeness (demuth) carry the idea of man being a reflection or similitude of God’s communicable attributes and characteristics: in the sense of intellect, emotion, will, and morality. No other created life has all of these distinctions. Therefore man is unique: You have put all things under his feet states the Psalmist in 8:6b. This can best be illustrated by the sidebar on the following page.
God has placed man in a superior position over the remainder of creation. This is fundamentally important because it forecasts God’s intention: that the remainder of creation is to serve man. Notice the line of demarcation relative to the biblical order of creation.
Compare this understanding of creational hierarchy to other belief systems. For instance in India, Pantheism lies at the root of their national beliefs (meaning god is in everything). Accordingly, there is no line of demarcation in the created order, which means the rat has just as much right to the corn in the cupboard as does the child. In California, where the religion of Radical Environmentalism reigns supreme, it means the fish has just as much right to the stream as does the dam builder. The pumping of water for people is curtailed if the delta smelt fish could be sucked into a turbine.
In God’s eyes man is the highest good, man reigns preeminent over all of creation — and yes, in reigning he does so with respect to the Creator of creation, to whom he must answer. Yes, he ameliorates for the life of the smelt, but at the end of the day the smelt doesn’t rule his life — he rules the smelt’s life. The late Christian Apologist Francis Schaeffer is right when he states, “So the Bible tells me who I am. It tells me how I am differentiated from all other things. I do not need to be confused, therefore, between myself and animal life.”3
THE BIBLICALLY INFORMED PUBLIC SERVANT MUST THEREFORE ORDER HIS THINKING IN LIGHT OF GOD’S REVEALED HIERARCHY IN CREATION
In creating the world God expects man to reign and steward His creation in ways that are pleasing unto Him. Lest there be any doubt about man being the height of God’s created order, the one in charge, the Psalmist adds in 115:16:
The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, But the earth he has given to the sons of men.
III. THE HOUSEKEEPERS OF GOD’S CREATIONAL ORDERING OF THE WORLD
In God’s hierarchy of creation man is atop and is to rule over all of creation and subdue it (Genesis 1:26 & 28). Notice these words rule and subdue. They define how man is to operate in his preeminent role within creation. Not only is he given the unique identity of being created in God’s image, but also he is tasked with the charge to rule and subdue.
THE CREATOR HAS APPOINTED MAN AS THE WARDEN OF HIS POSSESSION
Man is to fill the earth (v. 28) and oversee its operation as a stewardship responsibility. Note that the word subdue does not carry with it the idea of a bulldozer mentality. Ian McHarg, one of the world’s foremost landscape architects, when commenting on Genesis said in summary of his thinking, “If ever there was justification for a bulldozer mentality, this verse is it.” But what McHarg failed to see is the biblical context of the passage: Mankind has inherent stewardship responsibilities before his Creator, as is borne by the very fact that this right of dominion is given before the fall, which does not occur until Genesis chapter 3. Post-fall, yes, man can and does sinfully alter his steward responsibilities if left unchecked (which is why evangelizing the lost is the most important discipline for achieving the ultimate stewardship of the planet). Unfortunately McHarg elected to abandon the ideas of biblical rule and subdue, substituting and believing another religion, Pantheism, was the best religion for planet stewardship.4
Inherent in making His pronouncement in Genesis 1:21 & 31 that all He created is good, God expected and continues to expect that mankind will not reconfigure or destroy that which He put him in charge of. Rather, states one leading Evangelical commentator regarding these passages, these words “speak of a productive ordering of the earth and its inhabitants to yield its riches and accomplish God’s purposes.”
It has been this foundational, biblically based way of thinking that accelerated America’s quick and relatively sudden vault into world leadership. Rockefeller’s innovation of the use of gasoline, a bi-product from the production of lamp oil, Carnegie’s innovation of steel alloy from iron, Morgan’s investment in the creation of electricity, the harnessing of water by Hoover Dam and its transportation by the Metropolitan Water District and Mulholland’s importation of the same from the Sierra Nevada: all gave birth to American innovation and the industrial revolution! Here’s the point: Such ruling and subordination of natural resources were largely done by Christian men whose minds and actions were informed by Genesis 1! Such fundamental subjugation of natural resources then gave rise to efficient modern agriculture, energy production, transportation, architecture and their likes.
The current trend now, to move away from this biblical understanding, drastically challenges the American way of life, our world leadership in innovation, and our very quality of life.5
This is perhaps best illustrated by a classic interview with William Gould, the retired CEO or Southern California Edison and the father of the western power grid. Gould remarked about a 1984 summit meeting with environmental leaders in Salt Lake City, and how it the meeting went sideways. The bottom line, the environmentalist exclaimed that they had enough laws on the books to hinder the development of any new power plants. Gould went on to say how the development of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant was a nightmare due to continual public lawsuits. He remarked that SCE would never attempt another due to huge cost overruns coupled with the insecurity of ever being able to come on line. Subsequently, other power developers left the state for greener pastures. Therein was the seedbed for the California electrical crisis — a shortage threat that still persists on hot summer days. Now years later, the Radical Environmentalists have succeeded in shutting down the world’s most efficient way to produce electricity — and with technological advances, now one of the safest.
It’s very plain to see that countries such as India who possess similar natural resources but hold to dissimilar beliefs experience incessant intractability. But such is the exact same road America finds herself on due to her disregard and rejection of what God so clearly exclaims in Genesis!
TO ALLOW FISH TO GOVERN THE CONSTRUCTION OF DAMS, ENDANGERED SPECIES TO GOVERN POWER PLANTS, FLIES TO GOVERN HOSPITALS OR KANGAROO RATS, HOMES IS TO MISS THE CLEAR PROCLAMATION OF GOD IN GENESIS
God calls all Public Servants and citizens to walk in the confidence of His hierarchy of creation with an understanding of our housekeeping responsibilities. For Americans to discount Genesis is for America to walk backwards.
When the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California had the foresight to increase water storage to assure delivery during drought years (as has been the case in California lately) they spent over $3 billion constructing the Diamond Valley Reservoir (pictured on the cover) which holds an additional 800 million acre feet of water. As wise a stewardship responsibility this was to insure water for 17 million people who live in Southern California, $1 billion ended up having to be paid to fight and assuage the lawsuits of the Radical Environmentalists who managed to delay the project for 10 years.6 In contrast, during these CA drought years of late, it has been the non-subduing radical environmentalists of Marin County who have had to jerry-rig water pipes across the Richmond Bridge in order to keep their citizens from dying of thirst. That’s what happens when endangered species rule over people.
THE FALSE RELIGION OF RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALISM LEADS TO HUMAN POVERTY AND CULTURAL INSOLVENCY
Beloved, this is not a very good religion to base a country on! America’s problems are not so much rooted in a lack of creativity, markets or conveyance as much as they are with religious beliefs — unlike the religion of Environmentalism, the Christian’s religions’ org chart relative to creation is not aberrant.
IV. THE HARVEST OF GOD’S CREATIONAL ORDERING OF THE WORLD
Continuing in the first chapter of Genesis, verses 29 and 30 specifically reveal that God’s purpose in creating the world was for man’s betterment and enjoyment. More specifically, the plants, animals, birds, and every moving thing were created by God to be man’s food. Without the aid of Scripture one might suppose that this is a greedy self-centered way for man to view other living inhabitants sharing the planet. Certainly that is the conclusion of those who reject the inspiration and authority of God’s Word; it is easy to see how one could arrive at such conclusions apart from God’s Word!
But God reassures man in verse 31 that not only were His creation and hierarchy very good — but that also what He created was and is to serve as mankind’s multivariate forms of food.
MAN NEED NOT FEEL GUILTY, BECAUSE HIS BASIS FOR BOUNTIFUL LIVING IS NOT ARROGANCE; IT IS REVELATION!
Opposite the effacing anthropology of the radical environmentalist, Scripture unabashedly proclaims man’s superiority in the world over all else. Again, Psalm 115:16 states, But the earth he has given to the sons of men. Further to the point, 1Timothy 4:1-4 castigates those (and their religion) who fail to understand God’s will on this. It powerfully states:
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will . . . advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected . . .
God is pleased when organic and inorganic substances, the lesser of creation, are utilized to benefit those uniquely created in His image. Conversely, He is greatly displeased when humans inappropriately exalt His creation and worship it at His expense. Romans 1:21-25 underscores this:
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God . . . Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures…For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator . . . .
In a culminating crescendo of recurring biblical teaching, herein the worship of God’s creation instead of God Himself is deemed as foolishness. God has harsh words for those who profess to be wise with biblically-unenlightened ideology. My friend, don’t be counted amongst these people. If you are, you need to come to Christ my friend!
I see three conclusions very applicable to the life of a Public Servant as a result of this study:
A. GOD IS PRO-MANKIND
The God of the Bible is pro-mankind. He loves us and wants to bless us. That is why He gave us a planet full of abundant natural resources! It is true that the fall has made those natural resources more difficult to realize for our good, but nonetheless He didn’t remove them from us. The religion of Radical Environmentalism on the other hand is anti-mankind. In their twisted way of thinking, devoid of acknowledging, serving and worshipping God, all they have left is the physical world around them in which they find themselves. As if to think they are on the moral high ground, theirs is a religion bent on keeping man from that which God has intended for his betterment.
B. THERE IS GREAT POLITICAL VALUE IN HOLDING ONTO THE GENESIS UNDERSTANDING
There is much political value in holding to the Genesis order of creation. It is important to communicate through your actions and voting record that people are of greater importance and worth than anything else in your district — both animate and inanimate objects — because at the end of the day it is only human beings who are eligible to vote. (At least at this point in American history, fish can’t vote). Stand for the betterment of common people versus a member of the “Enlightened Class” who deprives people of their desire to make a living and forge a better life.
C. THERE ARE DIRE DEMOGRAPHIC & POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES IN STORE FOR RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALISTS
Very much worth noting is the demographic consequences of Radical Environmentalism. Those advocating this position tend to have had only one child, if that, in the last two decades. Accordingly,
WHAT RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALISTS HAVE COMMITTED IS AKIN TO ETHNIC SUICIDE — LET’S CALL IT IDEOLOGICAL SUICIDE
Those believing in the biblical truth of multiplying and filling the earth have continued to have large families. It is estimated that the later ideological affinity group has outperformed the former by six million children since the advent of Radical Environmentalism in America in the last two decades. Those six million children are just now reaching voting status. Said another way, young Americans raised with a Christian worldview will soon outnumber the children of Radical Environmentalists by at least six million voters in the coming elections. Indeed the scriptural truth that your sins will find you out will soon be realized across the country. Hopefully the religion of Radical Environmentalism will soon be relegated to fringe minority status in American society. Amen.
2 The words “Us” and “Our” in this passage are indicative of the Trinitarian nature of God (cf. Deut. 6:4).
3 Schaeffer, Francis, Genesis in Space and Time (Great Britain: Hodder and Stroughton Limited, 1972), p. 51
4 McHarg, Ian L., Design with Nature (Garden City: New York, Doubleday/Natural History Press, 1971), p. 68.
5 Insight Magazine; Spring, 2001
6 I find it interesting that Radical Environmentalists, when given the opportunity to store California Bay Area drinking water in a new proposed reservoir near Lake Shasta in the northern part of the state, so as to facilitate the deconstruction of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir dam in the Sierra Nevada, that they refuse the proposition because HHR water and power presently cost the Bay Area nothing! That is to say that when restoring the environment comes at a personal cost, they seem quick to jettison their ideology.