As Christians our responsibility within creation, and our duty towards nature and God, are an essential part of our faith.
In the story of Creation in the book of Genesis we read that ‘God saw everything that God had made and it was very good’. We are created in the image of God. We are not something, but someone. We are capable of self-knowledge, self-possession and of freely giving ourselves and entering into communion with other persons. This special love of God for us ‘confers upon us an infinite dignity’ (Pope St. John Paul 11). We are not adrift in the midst of hopelessness, chaos, in a world ruled by pure chance or endlessly recurring cycles!
Each of us is willed, loved, each of us is necessary (Pope Benedict 16th).
The book of Genesis teaches that the relationship between human beings and nature become conflicted as a result of sin. The sin of Adam and Eve is that they presumed to take the place of God. We see the effect of sin and its destructive power in wars, violence of various types, abuse of various types, the abandonment of the most vulnerable and attacks on nature.
We are not God. At times Christians have misinterpreted the words in Genesis about humanity having dominion over the earth as meaning that we have an unbridled license for the exploitation of nature. We do NOT HAVE absolute domination over other creatures. It needs to be understood in the sense of a relationship of mutual responsibilities between human beings and nature. We can take what we need for subsistence, but also have a duty to protect the earth. The earth belongs to God and not to us! We do not have absolute ownership!
There is much in the Bible which teaches that there is no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.
God loves all of creation and all of creation has value in itself, and we need to avoid any distorted use of things.
The ancient stories of the Bible full of symbolism bear witness that everything is interconnected, and that genuine care for our own lives and our relationships is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.
God Bless you today.
Bishop of Darwin