Psalm 8 and the Genesis creation story reveal something that can only be learned from revelation: that our dominion over all creatures, as well as, our responsibility for the environment, is not something humanity gained by evolving into the top position in terms of intelligence, nor have we conquered the earth by our own might, ecological dominion is instead a gift, a matter of grace from our creator. This is why Pope Francis’ voice on climate control is a significant addition to the debate. Many have stopped listening to the scientists who say that our carbon emissions have already raised the average temperature of the planet, and unless checked, will create chaotic weather, dramatic climate changes that will threaten the world food supply, and raised sea levels, that in time, will flood our coastal cities. Those in authority receive this bad news much as an alcoholic receives the advice that he should stop drinking. Facts are not enough. The Bible tells us, however, that to abandon our role as wise managers of the planet is sin.
Psalm 8 has three striking lines:
Verse 2: Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.
God’s spirit often uses humble instruments to rebuke us. How often have we been busy doing our own thing and a child says something that tips us off of our high horse?
Verse 5: Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.
Mark Twain famously said, “Man was created a little lower than the angels and has been getting a little lower ever since.” We dare not deny the middle management position that God has put us in. Just as angels have fallen, so also, those in leadership in the human economic and political system have fallen. Our pride has allowed them to fall.
Verse 6: You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.
We can’t say that climate change is inevitable and we are helpless. It is the very fact that all of these things are under our control that makes the issue so important. God has handed the planet to us, that we might be his trustees over creation. If we could easily leave earth and establish a human colony on Mars, that would not remove our responsibility for this world. If we find a way to live through technology, even though the earth and its seas have been turned to crap, we will still be responsible for our sin.