I cannot say that I enjoyed this as much as the first three. It was a little over the top in its soil-centrism and soil-enthusiasm. But I can share a number of criticisms and a point of interest.
A couple of Biblical and linguistic homonyms or etymological connections are shared showing the link between our own identity and that of the ground or soil. These are presented as “puns” probably to offset the weakness of an connection made by etymology and the sound of words.
- The first is between the Hebrew word for man or Adam and the word for ground, as used in Genesis. God makes Adam from the dust of the ha’adamah.
- The second is between the “humans” and “humus” which is a component of soil. And the connection is also made to the word “humility” as a remembrance that we come from the dirt. From which is launched the idea that sin comes from pride.
I may not agree with equating “image of God” with being a representative of God in the world, but I certainly agree with the understanding of Genesis 1:28 as giving us a stewardship responsibility over the earth, because power and responsibility always go hand in hand. We alone of all the species of the earth have the capacity to understand all the other species and the ecological balance and well being of the earth and with that understanding naturally comes responsibility.
My first point of contention or skepticism is to point out that rather than soil be the source of life, like 20% of our atmosphere, it is a product of life. And my second is to point out that undervaluing ourselves can be just as big a problem as valuing ourselves too much. There is after all a important role of pride in the work we do – a matter of doing a good job. My third objection is to this idea that our ecological mess comes from thinking of ourselves at the center rather than God, when most would find fault in Christianity and theism for too little respect of nature and leaving too much in the hands of God.
But… as the discussion progresses, my last objection is addressed with a recognition that Christianity has misled with regards to our ecological responsibilities. Though I hardly think that soil erosion is any where near the top of the list of ecological concerns. It seems to me this is a one of the ecological concerns we have had a better handle on than others. To be sure in some areas of the world the expansion of desert areas are proving to be unstoppable but in other areas we have had considerable success in converting and reclaiming deserts and damaged lands.
The topic shifts to eschatology as one of the areas in which Christianity has been unhelpful to ecological concerns. However, while I am very sympathetic to the opposition to this idea that God is going to destroy the earth anyway, I have to say the argument that 2 Peter 3:10 is wrongly translating a word as “burned” rather than “found,” is pathetic, dishonest, and out of context. Instead I would go back to that covenant with all creation in Genesis 9 previously mentioned and point to the promise made at the end of chapter 8 where God said He would never again destroy the earth because of man. But this doesn’t rule out destruction of the earth either by man or a destruction of the earth because our own failing to fulfill our stewardship role. I think that a judgement of God covers these situations as well as divine intervention. There are three rather obvious possible causes for a destruction of the Earth by fire:
- Nuclear war
- Asteroid impact
- A change in the sun.
The last of these is probably something we can do nothing about, but it is also the least likely for a very long time. But the other two are things we can and have been taking some responsibility for. To be sure it hasn’t and will not be easy but these are perhaps within our ability.