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Are Christians Destroying The Environment? A Biblical Approach to Environmentalism and the “Dominion Mandate”.

Ben Greenfield Fitness

Release Date: 12/19/2020

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bengreenfieldfitness.com/shadeofgreen

Let's face it: Christians don't seem to be very good environmentalists.

We have been shockingly bad at using our Bibles and our brains when it comes to conservation and the environment. Unhinged environmentalism is not the answer, but neither are ignorance and apathy. It's time for something different, and my guest on today's podcast - Dr. Gordon Wilson - feels that Christian responsibility for the natural world goes back to the very beginning, when God commanded us to "fill the earth and subdue it." This so-called "Dominion Mandate" is an authoritative alternative to both environmental activists and to those who think "conservation" is a word progressives made up.

So what does "dominion" mean for us, living in a world of constant reports about impending global meltdown; of oils spills, pollution, and strip-mining; of extinction threats both real and imagined? Gordon and his new book A Different Shade of Green: A Biblical Approach to Environmentalism and the Dominion Mandate contains a compelling Christian approach to biodiversity, conservation and other environmental issues, offering solutions and correcting errors while teaching us how to give thanks for and rule over all of creation.

Dr. Wilson is currently a Senior Fellow of Natural History at New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. Before coming to NSA he was a faculty member at Liberty University from 1991 2003.  He has also taught on a part-time basis at the University of Idaho and Lynchburg College. Gordon received his Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Public Policy from George Mason University in 2003, and also earned his M.S. in Entomology (1989) and B.S. in Education/Biology (1984) at the University of Idaho. He has published his dissertation research on the reproductive ecology of the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene Carolina Carolina) in Southeastern Naturalist and The Herpetological Bulletin. He regularly writes popular natural history articles for Answers Magazine and has recently published a biology textbook called The Riot and the Dance: Earth. He is also the narrator of a two part nature documentary series called by the same name.

During this discussion, you'll discover:

Opening remarks from Ben

-How we've lost our perception of the intelligence of plants...10:00

  • The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Buhner
  • Christianity began process of removing sacred intelligence of all life after the fall of the Roman Empire
  • "Dominion mandate" Nature is created by God for people; views creation as a mere resource rather than part of the creation
  • Protestantism reduced sacredness to only Jesus
  • Eastern Orthodox Christianity
  • Movement within Christianity to renew an understanding of the sacred elements of the planet
  • Human inventions has limitations: design flaws, human biases, etc.
  • Reductionism: we examine systems by taking them apart
  • This is not sufficient to fully understand the planet

-Biophilia, and perceiving all of nature with the emotional bond we have with family and pets...14:30

  • The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Buhner
  • Loss of biophilia aggravated by:
    • Not growing up in nature leads to a lack of appreciation for it
    • The idea that Earth and nature is not "alive"
  • Public school curriculum by and large have this loss of biophilia
  • Earth in Mind by David Orr
  • Television has deleteriously affected imagination, creativity, storytelling, dreaming
  • Television is to dreaming what junk food is to real food
  • We've lost our connection to the sacredness of the universe with the advent of modern media and technology
  • Two barriers to our understanding of our environment:
    • Indoor television (video games to a lesser extent)
    • Reductionistic scientism in a public school scenario
  • Indigenous peoples will say their understanding of plants and plant medicine came from the plants themselves
  • Ayahuasca supposedly revealed to people by the plants themselves
  • Christians and scientists should spend more time in nature and perceive the sacred intelligence in plants

Interview with Gordon Wilson

-Life as a biologist and a Christian...35:25

  • Being a creationist is tantamount to being a heretic in the biology field at large (evolution is the cardinal doctrine)
  • Wanted to learn the theory of evolution the way it was taught to prove he knew what they believed
  • This approach more or less assuaged any animosity that may have existed between himself and his peers, superiors, etc.
  • University deans and what not feared losing federal funding because a creationist is merely speaking, even if it's not his own views
  • In Six Days by John Ashton
  • Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur were notable biologists who held to the creationist theory of the world

-The pressing need Gordon saw in writing his book...43:15

  • Two contrarian views within the Christian community:
    • Use of resources with little concern for the future
    • Being influenced by environmentalist propaganda, governmental overreach, etc.
  • Understanding God's "mind" in creating the world, life on it, etc.
  • What is the Christian's proper use of creation within that context
  • Humans as "image bearers" are tasked with preserving and enhancing the environment
  • Gordon wanted the book to be readable and enjoyable for all

-The "dominion mandate": What it is and what it has to do with environmentalism...47:00

  • Genesis 1:28 "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'"
  • You can't have dominion over things that don't exist
  • It's not for us to choose which creatures are useful and which are not
  • "Rule" over creatures is not a tyranny
  • Christ the head of the church, to present the church as a spotless bride; the church is to be beautified by his headship
  • Dominion can be beautiful or bad, depending on the mindset of the one to whom authority is given
  • Parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14~30)

-Common stereotypes among Christians when it comes to the environment...54:05

  • Anti-Green Andy: the environment is there for the taking, little concern for the future
  • Apathetic April: Goes to church, gives zero purposeful thought to the environment at all
  • Pre-Mil Pete: Christ is coming any day, so we shouldn't concern ourselves with the state of the planet; evangelize, evangelize, evangelize
  • Green Greta: Loves the environment, but has drunk the secular, progressive Kool-Aid

-The ideal "stereotype" of an environmentally-conscious Christian...59:45

  • William Wilberforce founded the first animal rights organization in England
  • Work within your own sphere of influence
  • Gordon's book is not a "how-to" guide, but an instruction in principles
  • Guiding principles: Love God, Love thy neighbor (The Golden Rule)
  • Proverbs 12:10 "A righteous man has regard for his beast."
  • Animals should not suffer because we're lazy
  • Make your home beautiful with plants
  • If it's ugly, don't do it, even if it doesn't cause a huge tragedy
  • Not polluting the air
  • Comply with regulations because it's right, not simply to be in compliance
  • Working at turning around the Titanic
  • Government mandates may not be necessary if more people take a conscious mindset toward the environment

-How fossil fuels have been unnecessarily demonized...1:09:05

-Concerns over the ability to feed a growing world population...1:14:53

-Practical and moral ways to affect lasting change in the environment...1:23:00

  • "Christian conservationist" rather than an "environmentalist"
  • Easy to become self-righteous by having certain practices that promote the environment
  • Encourage innovation among the producers, versus guilting the consumer
  • The solution to environmental problems is the solution to sin
  • Pollution and the Death of Man by Francis Schaeffer
  • The Riot and the Dance: Foundational Biology textbook by Dr. Gordon Wilson

-And much more...

Resources from this episode:

- Dr. Gordon Wilson:

- Podcasts:

- Other resources:

Do you have questions, thoughts or feedback for Gordon Wilson or me? Leave your comments at https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/shadeofgreen and one of us will reply!