Rethinking Genesis: How Human Humility Will Save the Climate

The Book of Genesis depicts God's ordering the world out of chaos; forming all that we see today. Man-made climate change is, in many ways, digressing that glorious act and returning us to the chaos from which we came. While Genesis has been used on both sides of the augment over climate change, humankind's arrogance has brought us to miss one crucial factor in analyzing the story. As Eric Barreto writes in his recent article, In the Beginning & In the End: Christians & Climate Change (Genesis 1:1-5), "Genesis 1 is about God first and foremost," not us.

Often muddled by the question, 'Why did God create the world,' Genesis has been used to determine how God will save us. And, here is our grave mistake. We look to Genesis to determine how God will shelter humankind from the (current) storm, when we should be concerned with how we will shelter our neighbor(s).

Climate change is having a drastic impact, not just on the ecosystem, but on our fellow humans (oftentimes, those in less affluent societies). Would God consider this to be 'good?' Is this part of His plan?

If God created the world and it was 'good,' what are we doing to maintain that goodness?

God bestowed Adam and Eve with the task of caring for the garden and maintaining the legacy of His creation. To do this, we must do more than simply act — we must change the way we think about our relationship to the Earth. More importantly, we must think differently about what our scripture is trying to tell us.

In the Beginning & In the End: Christians & Climate Change (Genesis 1:1-5)

by Eric Barreto for Odyssey Networks

In the beginning, God created the world. In the beginning, God drew order out of chaos. In the beginning, God breathed life into every living creature. In the beginning, God crafted and made the world.

In contrast, it seems like we as a people are committed to leading the world back into chaos, to recreating the world in our distorted image. We seem determined to create a world characterized by death and loss not the miracle of life and breath and goodness and the flourishing of all living things.

In the end, we seem driven to dismantle the world. In the end, we are opting for the chaos God held at bay as an act of grace, love, and power.

The threat of climate change and the pollution of our natural resources is a theological problem. In our efforts to enhance our comfort and ease our work, we have mistaken what is good with what is merely advantageous for a narrowly circumscribed us. Our ravaging of natural resources reveals our arrogance. We think that the world’s water and air and many precious resources are due to us, recompense we have earned by the sweat of our brow or the ingenuity of our efforts rather than gifts from God meant to enhance the life of all not just the extravagance of a few. We have turned the world upside down, served the forces of destruction, and declared them “good.”

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