The Religion of Environmentalism and the End of People

By Dr. Karen Gushta

Every year environmentalists try to gin up activities for Earth Day which they claim is celebrated world-wide. Referring to the day as “International Mother Earth Day,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon challenged the world’s citizens to “renew our pledges to honour and respect Mother Earth.”

The first Earth Day in 1970 generated enough political energy to get three major bills passed within weeks that were intended to “help save the environment” — the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Endangered Species Act.

However, former professor of mineral economics at Pennsylvania State University, Richard Gordon, wrote in the spring 2013 issue of Regulation that these acts are themselves the source of many of the current environmental policy problems.

The CAA, for the most part, requires the control of pollutants with a significant health and welfare effect, without regard to cost. Similarly, the CWA sets several open-ended requirements to eliminate the discharge of pollutants that harm aquatic life  . . . the mandates, taken literally, prohibit nearly every sort of human activity.

 After these laws were passed, it was up to the Environmental Protection Agency to decide how stringent EPA regulation of pollutants should be, based on current science. “In practice,” writes Gordon, “that means maintaining an uneasy balance between reality and the political pressures to tighten regulation.”

During the Obama administration, former EPA head, Lisa Jackson, pushed through new air and water pollution rules considered the toughest in more than 20 years. She did everything she could to block approval of the Keystone pipeline, which would bring new jobs to thousands, and she put out EPA regulations that now threaten survival of the coal industry.

“Environmentalism has really become a religion of its own,” Dr. Calvin Beisner recently told Truth In Action Ministries. “It’s got its own world view, theology and ethics which are overwhelmingly anti-Christian. It’s generally uses very poor science and very poor economics. Consequently many of its policies not only really don’t do much good for the natural world around us but are very harmful to the poor around us.”

“We need to distinguish between ‘environment’ and ‘environmentalism,’” says Beisner, founder of the Cornwall Alliance for Stewardship of Creation. Beisner thinks that the beliefs of environmentalism are filtering into churches. Instead of recognizing that the earth and its environment belong to God, and that He has given us a mandate to subdue it and exercise dominion over it (as recorded in Genesis 1:28), some churches are supporting radical environmentalist policies.

Opposing these policies doesn’t mean that we use the earth selfishly, says Beisner. As men and women, created in God’s image, we should labor and work to “enhance the fruitfulness, the beauty and safety of the earth to the glory of God and to the benefit of our fellow men.” By doing so, says Beisner, we not only love God, our creator, but we demonstrate our love to our neighbor.

Behind the ideology of environmentalism are a driving set of religious assumptions. Beisner says most of those in the “green” movement are atheistic materialists, who deny the spiritual or the supernatural.

The other dominant religious view among environmentalists is a form of pantheism — “god is the universe, the universe is god.” Often the comparison is made that “god is to the universe as the soul is to the human body.” Some have even embraced pagan animism and believe that gods or spirits inhabit the rocks, trees, rivers, and animals.

Failure to recognize God as Creator will always lead to ignoring the distinction between God and what He has created, resulting, as Romans 1:25 states, they worship “the creature rather than the Creator.”

Such an upside-down worldview can never lead to good and right policies for protecting the environment. Christians must carefully distinguish between policies that enhance stewardship of creation and those that diminish human flourishing in the name of protecting the earth and its creatures.

When God created Adam and Eve in His image, He made mankind the crown of His creation, not the other way around.

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Dr. Karen Gushta is a writer and researcher for Truth in Action Ministries. She has written and edited a number of books for Truth in Action, including her most recent, How Can America Survive? The Coming Economic Earthquake. Others include The War on Children and Freedom from Financial Fear, a book of sermons by the late Dr. D. James Kennedy. (All are available at Christianbook.com). Gushta has a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Indiana University.