Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Environmental Sustainability

Following up from yesterday's blog, I'm going to briefly address some of the positions that I've mentioned. For the moment, I've decided to skip social justice as I've pretty much blogged on that subject for 230 days already...

The normal starting point for discussing environmental theology would be the creation stories in Genesis. This has been well established, so I would like to begin with an opposing point of view. "God has given the earth into our care to do as we wish, furthermore as Jesus imminent return will signal the end of the world there is no need to preserve it for the future."

Firstly, if we do have a responsibility to care for creation we should recognise the amazing interdependence of this planets billions of life forms. Whilst it seems that even before human interference certain species were doomed to extinction, there also appears to be a far greater and continually increasing negative impact upon other forms of life, which has been caused by human beings. If we're not hunting species to extinction, we're finding other ways to interrupt the symbiotic balance of nature, like destroying the natural environment. Common sense needs to prevail: I'm not afraid of starting a fly plague every time I kill a spider, but we can all pay more attention to the flow on effects from our environmental interference.

The second part of the argument is even more disturbing for me. Any theology that focuses on the end of the world runs the risk of so devaluing the present that it loses all sense of moral accountability for life here and now. I'm never clear on how Christians who focus on interpreting signs of the end in the scriptures keep missing the explicit statements in the gospels which tell us that we won't be able to predict this! Furthermore, every person who has predicted the imminent end of the world for the past 2,000 years has apparently got it wrong. Are we so arrogant that we think we are the only ones who can finally get it right? Perhaps if we spent more time fixing the world up and less time destroying it in the first place, there wouldn't be quite so many 'signs'.

Finally, the consequences of environmental degradation are felt first by the most vulnerable. It's the poor that end up living in the refuse of the rich. They suffer when crops fail, when rivers run dry or are polluted, when the air where they live is unfit to breathe. Those who can afford to do so will move or buy their way out of difficulty. As we watch the ongoing depletion of fossil fuels, the greater brunt of rising oil, gas and electricity costs is borne by those who can least afford it. Is this really the best way for us to take responsibility for God's creation?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with a lot of what you say here. None of us know when the end will come - but it is important that we are ready for that time, despite the fact that so many have had the time quite wrong over the years. We were put on earth to care for it and we sometimes have a funny way or should I say a tragic way of taking on this responsibility and it hurts many people as we try and shy away from the issue.