God’s Daily Theatrical Encore

Austin Layton | Guest Writer

Q: Trivia time with Collide!  What body of water in North America supplies water to three different oceans? Hint: The same body of water has decreased in size by 60 percent over the last century and a half.

A: The answer may elude you, but the correct response is the Columbia Icefield in Alberta, Canada. The runoff from its glaciers contributes to rivers running to the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

I realize that one individual is not responsible for attempting to steal the nearly 1,000-foot thick, 3.7 mile-wide Columbia Icefield that supplies water to three different oceans (think Vector shrinking, then stealing, the moon in DESPICABLE ME). However, we should be aware of our role in its conservation.


Christians are often one of the first groups who get a finger, or THE FINGER, pointed at them for how we treat the earth. Lynn White, a well-known professor of medieval history in the 20th century, wrote an article in 1967 entitled “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis” in which he conjectures that Christian tradition is responsible for the onset of the destructive behaviors that came to fruition during the industrial revolution. Christians in the modern west have adhered to a dualistic approach, separating God from nature. White describes how Christians have viewed humans as the only figures in Creation made in God’s image (anthropocentrism) while Creation was made primarily for human use (human chauvinism) which has led to indifference or even hostility towards nature.


White finishes his essay with this thought: “Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecologic crisis can be expected from them alone. Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not.”


Christians fall back on verses like Genesis 1:26 as proof for our role as “ruler” and “user” of the earth and Creation. The verse says that God made man in His image and granted him dominion over the rest of creation. Western Christians historically have asked: If God did create the Earth for our use, why should we not utilize it to its full potential?


When you run into a Greenpeace representative on the street corner, which you do OFTEN in my Portland (Oregon) hometown, the person says something along the lines of, “Your grandchildren won’t be able to {fill in the blank} if you do not help!” I am not about to let a 20-something hippie guilt trip me about the environment with some pre-packaged emotional speech. How I treat the earth has a whole lot more to do with glorifying Creation and its Creator than making sure Los Angeles does not look like Beijing. (Yes, the smog can get worse.)


I think God makes himself evident and obvious in different ways, some crazier than others.  There may be stories in the Bible where God made himself known by making a fleece wet, but God reveals himself to me through biology. I love to nerd out over cells smaller than the tip of a pen.  While that may not hold true for everybody, I have yet to meet a person who is not taken aback by the beauty of a sunrise peeking between the trees of a forest or a view of the Milky Way during a backpacking trip.


We have a responsibility to be stewards of this beautiful Creation gift we have been given.  We as humans are masters over Creation, but as Christians we are also caretakers of the earth.  We can respect and worship the Creator by honoring the Creation.  I am not suggesting you should chase down whalers or tie yourself to a tree in the Brazilian rainforest.  Maybe just use a water bottle instead of buying bottled water. This is one easy suggestion, but I trust (and hope) that you are more creative than I. Even if you’re not, APU has a little known Environmental Stewardship department. Look into it.


G.K. Chesterton wrote: “Perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.  The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”  God has been staging a show on earth for thousands of years. Who are we as Christians to trash the stage?