Biblical Reasons for Preserving Biodiversity (Sir Ghillean Prance)
Here is a very brief excerpt from Ghillean Prance's lecture series, Preserving Biodiversity: Is There a Biblical Reason? (1990)
The Bible and Biodiversity: A Biblical View
Now I will address more specifically the topic upon which I was asked to speak, the biblical reasons for preserving biodiversity. If the secular organisations and writers are appealing so frequently to religions to respond, we need to answer this call. Hopefully this will be with a biblical response in the case of Christians. We also need to respond because of the, probably unjust, criticism of Lyn White (1976) and others, that has been put onto Christianity because of such words as dominion, subdue and multiply that are part of the creation story in Genesis 1.
Then God said,
‘Let us make humankind in our image,
according to our likeness;
and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,
and over the birds of the air,
and over the cattle,
and over all the wild animals of the earth’
Dominion, a word which has often been misunderstood, implies caretaking, to act as stewards of God’s own purposes. It does not, in its biblical sense, imply the establishment of a competing reign, which is what the fall has led to. Dominion is not domination without justice, but rather responsible rule that does not exploit its charges. God gave instructions to share the Earth’s vegetation with other creatures (Genesis 1:29–30). The dominion was not God’s authority to use up all the Earth’s resources for human needs alone. A problem in the western world has been that many Christian people have taken God’s command of dominion as a divine authorisation to exploit the Earth with no thought for the welfare of other cultures, other creatures, the landscape, the mineral resources, the oceans or the atmosphere. (Deuteronomy 17:14–20 shows what the Hebrew concept of rule really meant).
There is no doubt that persuasive and influential misinterpretation of Christian doctrine has led to environmental destruction and lack of respect for nature.
... If God is concerned for the sparrows then so should we his stewards.