God's plan for the future of the biosphere

As an agnostic I had mixed views about the Holocene mass extinction. I really love nature, and so it pains me to see rich ecosystems destroyed, species going extinct or heading that way, diversity reduced by invasive species, etc. In the olden days they called this view ‘deep ecology’, to distinguish it from environmentalism tied to human wellbeing.

At the same time, looking at the vastness of geological timescales, I suspected humans would most likely extinct themselves in short order, and, whilst we would have inflicted deeper and more rapid changes to the world than any prior cataclysm, still, come back in a short few million years and life will be flourishing just as much (if differently) than it was before we got here.

As a new Christian, I need to re-evaluate those thoughts.

If God chose us, uniquely, as image-bearers, do we reflect the pinnacle of His Creation, and as such would He ensure we didn’t extinct ourselves? If so, are we supposed to continue on the current path that pushes inexorably towards squeezing out wild nature entirely, with no circuit-breaker of human extinction to protect the rest of His living Creation? Is there word from God that stewardship extends beyond conserving ecological services upon which humanity depends? Was God’s Creation “very good” in its own right or only inasmuch as it facilitates the flourishing of His image-bearers?

And then, there is the eschaton. I am yet to delve into this but have picked up tidbits. I don’t need to know what God has in mind for the biosphere of the new earth of Rev 21:1, except, if it means annihilation of much of it (“there was no more sea”) does that mean there is no point conserving any of it in the present?

I’m just thinking out loud, very preliminary thoughts - please don’t take offence :slightly_smiling_face:.

These are heavy topics that I bet have generated heavy shelves full of books. Any suggestions where to start?

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Yes, start with N.T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope.

And look up Katharine Hayhoe on YouTube. She is a well-respected climatologist married to an Evangelical pastor. She has done great work on educating people of faith on the moral mandate for creation care.

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That is from the book of Revelation, and there is certainly no figurative language anywhere in it, right? :slightly_smiling_face: I like Spurgeon’s take on it:

Good questions! You’re not alone in wondering about some of these things. A lot of the things I’d most like to know are very limited by my own place in time and inability to hold a God-view of life, but still interesting to think about. As far as extinction, the idea of a “remnant” surviving is prevalent in the Old Testament stories, whether during the flood, the wilderness, captivity – God preserves his people. I don’t know what that will mean for “civilization” as a whole in a post-resurrection world, but I also second the recommendation for “Surprised by Hope.”

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I heard it explained that the sea was symbolic for chaos. So “no more sea” symbolically meant everything brought under God’s rule and order.

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We talk a lot about eschatology in conversation with Creation Care, because it’s often a reason Christians use against caring for the planet. (We will get a new earth, it will burn up/pass away, etc.)

Here’s one, but our whole creation care category may shed some light on perspective for you.

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God’s plan remains (in) Jesus, by the Spirit. It’s entirely up to us to realise that, to get that. There is no sign of that. We - humanity - remain our only real hope. It’s still entirely up to us as it is on the trillions of biospheric worlds in just our infinitesimal universe, with God yearning back, fingers, tentacles, toes, trunks, other prehensile appendages reaching without touching except in incarnation. Christians need to grasp that.

It’s about equality of outcome. It always was. In the prophets, in Jesus, in the Jerusalem church.

That’s God’s plan for us. He can’t do it for us.

Your numbers are off, by a lot.

There’s nothing off about the numbers. For there to be merely ten worlds with sapience per galaxy out of a trillion means trillions throughout universe. To suggest that there aren’t orders of magnitude more than one per galaxy is absurd, irrational. Scientific American isn’t.

You are unaware, by your own admission. We already know about your rational but untrue presuppositions.

How about a deep ecology 2.0 which isn’t just about a numerical diversity of species nor about life restricted to genetic diversity, but about a measure of life in terms of potentiality – the capacity for learning, awareness, and creativity. Because frankly, I don’t see all that much special about having over 350,000 species of beetles. In the aforementioned measure of life, human beings have all the rest of life on the planet beat out by a considerable margin.

I don’t look at things that way. I don’t think there is anything special about the homo sapiens species as such. It is simply that we developed the capacity for language so that God could communicate with us more directly and adopt us as children giving us an inheritance of mind that transformed us from the biological organisms to a different form of life altogether. But that inheritance of the mind might be passed on to other species or even artificial life and the need for homo sapiens would be no more. They would be children of the mind to us even as we are children of the mind to God.

Indeed… But I don’t see why being Christian means you have to be specieist any more than it means you have to be racist, sexist, or nationalistic. You really have to be careful of some of the cultural baggage that people sell to you as part of some Christianity package deal.

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@Dale
Take your one-line bickering with @Klax to PM. No one else cares.

He chose us to walk among as we are the only creatures on this insignificant planet that could begin to recognize that He had. Just like the trillions of sapient species throughout the insignificant universe.

I don’t begin to pretend to any knowledge that there are any others out there which God has also adopted and communicated with. I don’t think 13.8 billion years is such a terribly long time that we should say others like ourselves must exist, but I think they could and it wouldn’t bother me in the slightest if they did. I believe in an infinite God and we cannot possibly think we exhaust all of God’s love and attention.

The only arrogance greater than thinking we are the only ones is thinking that the entire universe (let alone an infinite God) should revolve entirely around us, our problems, or our redemption for that matter.

Personally, I think it’s very dangerous to believe that humans can’t possibly go extinct. It’s time to be practical and start caring about the earth.

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I should have not used the term ‘fine tuning’ as a shorthand, confusing you. There are multiple planetary, interplanetary, solar, interstellar and galactic factors that determine potential habitable zones, let alone any extant biospheres, way more than not “any at all.” Your extrapolations are off by “orders of magnitude” and are merely wishful thinking to comport with your imaginings.

The next order of magnitude up from Maggie’s World being the only world where, in a galaxy of many trillions of worlds, it rains, is ten, 10:1,000,000,000,000=1:100,000,000,000 - one in a hundred billion, the second OOM is 100:1,000,000,000,000=1:10,000,000,000 - one in ten billion, the third OOM is 1:1,000,000,000 - one in a billion. So far we’re 1:4000 - one in a skewed four thousand. OOM we’ve detected a billionth of the worlds in our insignificant galaxy. I’m more than happy with the rationality of my imaginings, of my wishful thinking. Why you would wish to think, think to wish, that rain is impossible on trillions of ‘local’ worlds I don’t know. It has nothing to do with the possibility of transcendence.

We are the very short term future for the biosphere. The next <<0.01% of its future. I doubt we’ll leave as much trace as Chicxulub.

I do no think that the promise of new heavens and earth is an excuse for negligence in loving and caring for the present beauty of so much life.

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Aye, fundamentalism is defeatist and worse. Complicit.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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