Thursday, March 15, 2007

Men Took the Wealth And Left Only the Ashes

"The Bible contains no reference to earth in terms of the conservation ethic. Wild life and wilderness are apart from man and inferior. The Christian, and Jew, had no relation to the earth, the air, the waters, or the wild life. He could without fear poison the waters, pollute the air, level the forests, and despoil the land. The Bible and Christianity conditioned men to be vandals, converting everything from alligator skins to mountain ranges to blue waters into dollars. Men took the wealth and left only the ashes."

Former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

For more on this subject go here.


Kurt said...

Great quote--but I'm not sure I buy it. There's plenty of text in the Hebrew scriptures pointing to the human responsibility for stewardship of natural resources. The fact that Jews, Christians, and everyone else have ignored this responsibility is a cultural and historical phenomenon. Wendell Berry is but one writer who's offered a compelling Christian case for better stewardship. I do think Douglas is right that we've found endless ways to monetize nature.

Paul said...

Hi Kurt! I almost constantly wrestle with the broad question of how responsible religion is, or has been, for social attitudes and behaviors. Depending on what day of the week it is, I've given different answers to the question -- but none of my answers wholly satisfies me.

Having said that, it is heartening to see the rise of a Christian based environmental awareness and activism. Do you suppose it will take hold, or do you think it will be setback by the old guard of evangelicals, such as James Dobson, who is actively opposing it?

Thank you for an interesting comment!