Care for the Environment Is Biblical. It’s Also a Witness to Environmentalists.

Do activists often invest their work with religious significance? All the more reason for Christians to be discerning co-laborers.

I love nature documentaries, especially those narrated by David Attenborough. Whether watching with my children or on my own, I love seeing the majesty of the snowy Alps or kelp forests.

But I’ve noticed that in recent years, nearly every somber vignette of a species struggling on the edge of survival ends with a call to action. Viewers are beckoned to take responsibility for causing a poor animal’s plight and to consider how they can fix things before the species is gone forever.

I understand the impulse to believe that animals’ struggles should move humans to action. However, it is the ethics informing the narrator’s pleas that seem a bit muddled.

By many documentarians’ admission, the species we marvel at on screen have emerged out of eons of struggles to survive and adapt to their surroundings. Sometimes, the narrators even remind us that this process has resulted in countless prior species disappearing into extinction.

Whether you believe in a young or an old earth, in God’s hand or in meaningless physical forces guiding history, we can all agree that change, death, and selection favoring adaptability are features of life on earth. Witnessing it in real time makes for compelling television drama, but the moral indictment that you and I contribute to grave evil when one of these species goes extinct does not seem to square with the documentarians’ worldview.

What compels us to see polar bears possibly going extinct in terms of moral right and wrong? If we take human action out of the equation, isn’t history littered with the bones of countless species that have gone extinct? Are not humans and their actions part of nature?

A robust theology of creation care

If we listen closely, …

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