By Joel A. Hess –
A couple of weeks ago, our president took the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. No matter your opinion on the matter, it does say something on which Christians, atheists, and everyone else can agree. The earth is beautiful, and we should take care of it. Of course, there are many different ways one can accomplish this. When it comes to witnessing, all creation is quite a witness, as Psalm 19 agrees. Even the most extreme atheist usually agrees with the wonder of creation. It’s sad how often Christians so quickly dismiss their liberal environmentalist friends. What a great talking point this is! After all, we know the creator: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Acclaimed atheist, or as he would say agnostic who doesn’t see proof of God, Richard Dawkins attests to the wonder of the world when he writes, “The fact that it did not—the fact that life evolved out of literally nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved literally out of nothing—is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice.” He also says, “The chances of each of us coming into existence are infinitesimally small, and even though we shall all die some day, we should count ourselves fantastically lucky to get our decades in the sun.” No one disagrees that our universe is absolutely amazing and beautiful, and no one disagrees that it is completely absurd that human beings came into existence.
Well, the environmentalists are right about another thing. Mankind surely enjoys misusing, abusing, and even terrorizing our environment. I’m not just talking about pollution or carelessly driving over a chipmunk, which is indeed a sin. We misuse our most intimate environment: our bodies, families, and neighbors. We corrupt ourselves and our surroundings with our words and deeds. We wreck the environment when we steal people’s spouses, goods, and reputation. We destroy our neighborhoods when we walk by the needy and distressed. We use our bodies for our own pleasure instead of service to others. We are the dysfunctional children of the first polluters, Adam and Eve.
Richard Dawkins makes another wonderful observation in his book The Selfish Gene. He writes, “Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish. Let us understand what our own selfish genes are up to, because we may then at least have the chance to upset their designs, something that no other species has ever aspired to do.” We call this gene sin. Foreign yet intertwined so deeply, we cannot get rid of it. Dawkins suggests that we can curb it with education, but this past century witnessed that an educated Europe killed more people than ever before. Ironically, both communism and Nazism saw themselves as altruistic regimes intended to improve humanity. We need a rescue from the outside. We can’t do it ourselves!
Extreme environmentalists often sound like they hate mankind. I suppose we should hate mankind for we have done. Surely the creator of all this fantastic beauty should hate mankind for what it has done to His creation. Yet, contrary to the selfish gene and contrary to karma, God does not!
Dawkins talks about that as well. He writes, “It’s a horrible idea that God, this paragon of wisdom and knowledge, power, couldn’t think of a better way to forgive us our sins than to come down to Earth in his alter ego as his son and have himself hideously tortured and executed so that he could forgive himself.”
While Dawkins has some of that wrong, some of it is right. It is a horrible idea. Who would lay the sins of the world upon the only one who does not have the selfish gene? Creation is indeed beautiful. Yet, there is nothing more beautiful than the mangled corpse of God’s son hanging limp upon the cross whispering, “It is finished”! A new eternal Sabbath rest begins. God is the greatest of environmentalists. He loves His creation so much that He became part of it. He took our place. And in Baptism, He makes a new creation! And though we hold on to it now by faith, one day we will see the great Creator make all things new. There will be no more pollution, no more sin, and no more death. Come, Lord Jesus!