Are Christians Destroying The Environment? A Biblical Approach to Environmentalism and the “Dominion Mandate.”

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Lifestyle, Nutrition, Podcast

Let's face it: Christians don't seem to be very good environmentalists. We have been shockingly bad at using our Bibles and our brains when it comes to conservation and the environment. Unhinged environmentalism is not the answer, but neither is ignorance and apathy. It's time for something different, and my guest on today's podcast, Dr. Gordon Wilson, feels that Christian responsibility for the natural world goes back to the very beginning, when God commanded us to “fill the earth and subdue it.” This so-called “Dominion Mandate” is an authoritative alternative to both environmental activists and to those who think “conservation” is a word progressives made up.

So, what does “dominion” mean for us, living in a world of constant reports about impending global meltdown; of oil spills, pollution, and strip-mining; of extinction threats, both real and imagined?

Dr. Wilson's new book, A Different Shade of Green: A Biblical Approach to Environmentalism and the Dominion Mandate, contains a compelling Christian approach to biodiversity, conservation, and other environmental issues—offering solutions and correcting errors while teaching us how to give thanks for and rule over all of creation.

Dr. Wilson is currently a senior fellow of natural history at New Saint Andrews College in Moscow, Idaho. Before joining NSA, he was a faculty member at Liberty University from 1991 to 2003. He has also taught on a part-time basis at the University of Idaho and Lynchburg College. Gordon received his Ph.D. in environmental science and public policy from George Mason University in 2003 and also earned his M.S. in entomology and B.S. in education/biology at the University of Idaho. He has published his dissertation research on the reproductive ecology of the eastern box turtle in Southeastern Naturalist and The Herpetological Bulletin. He regularly writes popular natural history articles for Answers Magazine and has recently published a biology textbook called The Riot and the Dance: Earth. Dr. Wilson is also the narrator of a two-part nature documentary series by the same name.

During this discussion, you'll discover:

-How we've lost our perception of the intelligence of plants…10:00

  • Announcement about Ben's new book Fit Soul
  • The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Buhner
  • Christianity began the process of removing sacred intelligence of all life after the fall of the Roman Empire
  • Dominion mandate – Nature is created by God for people; views creation as a mere resource rather than part of the creation
  • Protestantism reduced sacredness to only Jesus
  • Eastern Orthodox Christianity
  • Movement within Christianity to renew an understanding of the sacred elements of the planet
  • Human inventions have limitations: design flaws, human biases, etc.
  • Reductionism: We examine systems by taking them apart
  • This is not sufficient to fully understand the planet

-Biophilia, and perceiving all of nature with the emotional bond we have with family and pets…14:30

  • Loss of biophilia aggravated by:
    • Not growing up in nature leads to a lack of appreciation for it
    • The idea that Earth and nature are not “alive”
  • Public school curriculum, by and large, have this loss of biophilia
  • Earth in Mind by David Orr
  • Television has deleteriously affected imagination, creativity, storytelling, dreaming
  • Television is to dreaming what junk food is to real food
  • We've lost our connection to the sacredness of the universe with the advent of modern media and technology
  • Two barriers to our understanding of our environment:
    • Indoor television (video games to a lesser extent)
    • Reductionistic scientism in a public school scenario
  • Indigenous peoples will say their understanding of plants and plant medicine came from the plants themselves
  • Ayahuasca supposedly revealed to people by the plants themselves
  • Christians and scientists should spend more time in nature and perceive the sacred intelligence in plants

Interview with Gordon Wilson

-Life as a biologist and a Christian…35:25

  • Being a creationist is tantamount to being a heretic in the biology field at large (evolution is the cardinal doctrine)
  • Wanted to learn the theory of evolution the way it was taught to prove he knew what they believed
  • This approach more or less assuaged any animosity that may have existed between himself and his peers, superiors, etc.
  • University deans and what not feared losing federal funding because a creationist is merely speaking, even if it's not his own views
  • In Six Days by John Ashton
  • Isaac Newton and Louis Pasteur were notable biologists who held to the creationist theory of the world

-The pressing need Gordon saw in writing his book…43:15

  • Two contrarian views within the Christian community:
    • Use of resources with little concern for the future
    • Being influenced by environmentalist propaganda, governmental overreach, etc.
  • Understanding God's “mind” in creating the world, life on it, etc.
  • What is the Christian's proper use of creation within that context?
  • Humans as “image-bearers” are tasked with preserving and enhancing the environment
  • Gordon wanted the book to be readable and enjoyable for all

-The dominion mandate: What it is and what it has to do with environmentalism…47:00

  • Genesis 1:28 “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'”
  • You can't have dominion over things that don't exist
  • It's not for us to choose which creatures are useful and which are not
  • “Rule” over creatures is not a tyranny
  • Christ is the head of the church, to present the church as a spotless bride; the church is to be beautified by his headship
  • Dominion can be beautiful or bad, depending on the mindset of the one to whom authority is given
  • Parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14~30)

-Common stereotypes among Christians when it comes to the environment…54:05

  • Anti-Green Andy: The environment is there for the taking, little concern for the future
  • Apathetic April: Goes to church, gives zero purposeful thought to the environment at all
  • Pre-Mil Pete: Christ is coming any day, so we shouldn't concern ourselves with the state of the planet; evangelize, evangelize, evangelize
  • Green Greta: Loves the environment, but has drunk the secular, progressive Kool-Aid

-The ideal “stereotype” of an environmentally-conscious Christian…59:45

  • William Wilberforce founded the first animal rights organization in England
  • Work within your own sphere of influence
  • Gordon's book is not a “how-to” guide, but an instruction in principles
  • Guiding principles: Love God, Love thy neighbor (The Golden Rule)
  • Proverbs 12:10 “A righteous man has regard for his beast.”
  • Animals should not suffer because we're lazy
  • Make your home beautiful with plants
  • If it's ugly, don't do it, even if it doesn't cause a huge tragedy
  • Not polluting the air
  • Comply with regulations because it's right, not simply to be in compliance
  • Working at turning around the Titanic
  • Government mandates may not be necessary if more people take a conscious mindset toward the environment

-How fossil fuels have been unnecessarily demonized…1:09:05

-Concerns over the ability to feed a growing world population…1:14:53

-Practical and moral ways to affect lasting change in the environment…1:23:00

  • “Christian conservationist” rather than an “environmentalist”
  • Easy to become self-righteous by having certain practices that promote the environment
  • Encourage innovation among the producers, versus guilting the consumer
  • The solution to environmental problems is the solution to sin
  • Pollution and the Death of Man by Francis Schaeffer
  • The Riot and the Dance: Foundational Biology textbook by Dr. Gordon Wilson

-And much more…

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

Dr. Gordon Wilson:

– Podcasts:

– Other resources:

Episode sponsors:

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Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Gordon Wilson or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question


25 thoughts on “Are Christians Destroying The Environment? A Biblical Approach to Environmentalism and the “Dominion Mandate.”

  1. Vanessa says:

    I really enjoyed hearing Dr. Gordon Wilson’s perspective! He’s actually in line with environmentalist and Time Magazine’s Hero of the Planet Robert F Kennedy Jr. who also believes in a free market enterprise to conservationism and reversing devastation on Mother Earth due to pollution. I may have to pick up Dr. Wilson’s textbook for my homeschooled boys as well.

    Thanks for covering such a controversial topic with a highly educated expert.

  2. Ry says:

    I respect everyone’s religion and beliefs but can we get back to human performance without the religion and home schooling stuff. Let’s get back to fitness, Nutrition and hacks please

  3. Albert says:

    Christians are the biggest stakeholders in the biggest polluting Big Corps? LMFAO.

    The idea that consumers dictate industry is BS.
    Only the dumbest simpleton sheep believe this.
    Big Corp decides BOTH what consumers want & what they have.
    Media marketing machine then delivers.
    Biggest bankers have to approve first else NOTHING gets done.

  4. Sybille says:

    Amazing episode. I think this was the most thought provoking podcast I heard the year. Thank you.
    I am not religious but that doesn’t mean I don’t like some of the principles.
    Happy birthday to you Ben.

  5. Sandy says:

    While reductionist thought patterns dominate western thought, emergent properties are taught as an important scientific concept, especially in the context of biology. Emergent properties describes phenomena that arise from structures in which the component parts of the structure do not seem to be able to explain the new characteristics of the system as a whole. A classic example is water-capillary action, surface tension, etc. Another possible example is the particle-like behavior of light. Light is the combination of two waves in fields and the properties of a particle emerge. Similarly, matter largely behaves as a solid object even though the electrons in atoms are in constant movement. Teilhard de Chardin was an amazing priest and paleontologist who wrote books about how the mind and society can be seen as emergent properties. Pretty sure he also addresses the concept of emergent properties with respect to plant life and the natural world. Thanks for the podcast.

    1. sam says:

      bla bla bla

  6. Matt Mondorff says:

    Ben, I was surprised to not hear Dr. Wilson mention Pope Francis book, Laudato Si. It was his first papal encyclical and very much addresses this topic. Hopefully you get a chance to check it out!

  7. Mammon Smith says:

    Jesus Fucking Christ, I thought this was fitness podcast.

    1. Zachary Boles says:

      As Christians we believe we should share the gospel to all ends of the earth. Ben is doing his duty as a Christian man. God bless him. There is much deeper things going on in this world than getting bigger muscles and better fitness, yet I love these things too. Just not more than the God of the universe. I’ll pray for you and openness of your heart and mind to Gods will in your life.

  8. Anthony Guastella says:

    Hi Ben, happy birthday! Thanks for the book, but the link you have still says that the book is not available?

  9. Chad Cooper says:

    By definition thinking is reductionist. When we think we are using models which are just representations of reality. We experience reality through the mental models we have created in our head. For example, I have a model that represents the city I live in whcih I use to move around the city. However, the model is only a representation of reality because it can’t encompass all reality due to the complexity of reality. For example, no body has been in every building, met everybody, know all the materials used in the city, etc. Reality is way to complex so we reduce it or simplify it in order to survive. By making mental models we simply reduce reality. In science, theories are just models that have been well test. The models in our head are limited because they are tested by our perceptions which are extremely inaccurate. I think the crux of the problem is that humans currently experience themselves as individuals or seperate from nature which is caused by our thinking minds. We can only exist within our biosphere. You can’t live without photosynthesis, nitrogen fixing bacteria, etc. The entire living planet is working together to maintain life through homeostatis (negative feedback) which happens at all levels of biological levels from the cell to the entire planet and are interconnected. However, agriculture is a positive feedback system which is causing us to reach limits or the limits to growth. Even thinking and science are a positive feedback system about continous growth. Covid is just a symptom of civilization beginning its long journey into collapse. When you stop thinking you experience the whole and its intelligence. Remember, once you know you have closed all doors, but the unknown is unlimited possibilities. Hopefully somebody can make sense of the voices in my head. Thanks, Ben!

    1. Chad Cooper says:

      Dr. Wilson, What about peak oil? It’s becoming obvious that we have reached a peak in oil production or are about to reach a peak in oil production. We do not have a substitute for oil at this moment to continue the exponential growth society needs to maintain its complexity. Also, we probably don’t have enough time to completely change to a new source of potential energy. Why do we have these environmental problems? Its because our civilization is based on growth on a finite planet and oil is the critical resource to maintain that growth. Once we begin energy descent civiliztion begins collapsing. You are a biologist who tend to understand EROI (energy return on investment). EROI has been slowly decreasing and even accelarating its descent. Why do you think we started fracking? It’s really not profitable. Why do you think society is continuing to drop interest rates. Right now oil companies are really struggling. Society is in a trap, we can’t afford higher oil prices to extract more energy or search for more oil, and oil companies can’t afford lower prices. New oil fields have been declining for years. I really don’t think people understand thermodynamics. Ben, I love your podcast, however, thinking in terms of good and bad are limiting. You mentioned that reductionist thinking is a problem and this current podcast seems to continue reductionist thinking due to compartamilizing environmental issues without thinking wholistically. It’s a complex problem, and belief in technology, belief in god, or just belief in it self won’t solve these prolbems.

      1. Gordon Wilson says:

        Hi Chad,
        You had a complex multi-faceted question mixed with various statements. I would be glad to interact on some of the things you mentioned (stuff I know about) but it would be too laborious to answer in an email. If you would like to chat on the phone, email me and I will give you my number. I recommend the book “Apocalypse Never”. It may answer some of your questions too.
        Merry Christmas! Gordon

  10. Brad says:

    Population Growth is not a concern? In my dad’s lifetime (he is still alive), the population grew more than 3x .

    In 1939 population was about 2.3 billion

    In 2020 human population is about 7.8 billion

    In 2050 population is projected to be about 10 billion

    World population projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050 | UN DESA …
    www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/20…

    Some current earth damage stats (not including carbon emissions) due to population growth.

    Reportedly 2,299,421,390 lbs of human poop each day!
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/07/03/how-mu…

    Reportedly 56 billion farm animals killed each year
    http://www.animalequality.net/food

    Perhaps 100 lbs of plastic per person per year, (Perhaps 700 billion pounds per year)
    https://www.plasticsinsight.com/world-per-capita-…

    Animal Extinction Rates:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/humans-are-behind-the…
    “A mass extinction – the sixth of its kind in our 4.5-billion-year history – is well underway and humans are to blame.

    That somber assessment comes from a new study Thursday in Science, which found that extinction rates over the last century were 114 times higher than they would have been if humans had not been around.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/201…
    “One thing the study says is that human existence that has led the Earth into the beginning of the sixth mass extinction. At current rates of consumption and emissions, 1 1/2 Earths would be required to meet humanity’s demands on nature each year. Those demands include renewable resources like food, fuel, landand “forests we need to absorb our carbon emissions,” reads the Living Planet Report .

    1. Gordon Wilson says:

      Hi Brad,
      Besides my book I think it would be good for you to read “Apocalypse Never” for a less doomsday approach to our environmental problems. The author is a former environmental alarmist. He still is an environmentalist but has come to grips with how false much of what the doomsday folks are saying. He has real good common sense solutions.
      Merry Christmas!
      Gordon

      1. Brad says:

        Thank you Gordon. The opinions on damage are often coming from mainstream scientists rather than unhinged environmentalists. For example, the Lancet reported

        “Environmental pollution—from filthy air to contaminated water—is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. ”

        The Lancet is not Green Peace, WWF, or some other environmental group. Rather, it’s one of the world’s oldest, most respected peer reviewed medical journals.

        We also know that air pollution is linked to heart disease, dementia, cancer, depression, and suicide. I included a few articles referencing studies below. There are certainly many more peer reviewed studies on this topic

        Even if there is not some environmental doomsday on the horizon, it still makes sense to improve our health and overall quality of life. One does not need to be alarmist to desire clean air.

        I also wish you a Merry Christmas as well!

        -Brad

        “It is well known that both air pollution and increased blood pressure contribute to an elevated risk cardiovascular disease. … Importantly, air pollution doubled the risk for obesity, hypertension, chronic pulmonary disease, and cardiovascular disease in older people (39,40).”

        Air Pollution Exposure and Cardiovascular Disease – NCBIhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › pmc › articles › PMC4112067

        Air Pollution Is a Leading Cause of Cancer – Scientific American
        https://www.scientificamerican.com › article › air-pollution-a-leading-caus…..

        Strong link found between air pollution and diabetes
        https://www.medicalnewstoday.com › articlesJul 6, 2018 – A new study finds a strong link between air pollution and an increased risk of diabetes. The findings could have a significant global impact.

        Air Pollution May Damage the Brain – The New York Timeshttps://www.nytimes.com › air-pollution-brain-dementia-alzheimer-memory

        Is air pollution tied to higher dementia risk? – CNN – CNN.com
        https://www.cnn.com › 2018/09/18 › health › dementia-air-pollution-study
        Sep 18, 2018 – A new study suggests that exposure to large amounts of air pollution may be associated with a 40% heightened risk of dementia. The study .

        1. Gordon Wilson says:

          Thanks, Brad. Yes, you don’t have to be an alarmist to want clean air. The book “Apocalypse Never” really presents a balanced approach to solving environmental problems. I’m all for making our emissions cleaner and reducing air pollution so we can reduce the problems you listed above, but we must keep in mind that lack of reliable energy worldwide causes even more serious problems like malnutrition and other health problems. For example, wood fire smoke is more unhealthy than oil and natural gas emissions yet many people in developing countries that don’t have access to it and are forced to constantly cook over wood. Taking a hard look at third world problems help put our first world problems in perspective. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  11. Brad says:

    Well, your guest might be making the case for Christians being anti-environmentalist more than ever before. So Let’s face it: in contradiction with the overwhelming number of climate scientists and epidemiologists that study the effects of air pollution, a supposed Christian Environmentalist i seems to be promoting fossil fuels. That baffles the mind.

    “Air pollution is responsible for shortening people’s lives worldwide on a scale far greater than wars and other forms of violence, parasitic and insect-born diseases such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and smoking, according to a new study.”
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200302200734.htm

    It’s a “no brainer” that we should we invest heavily in transitioning to renewable energy as quickly as possible due to health and climate effects.

  12. Joe Tittiger says:

    Gain enough discernment so that you don’t follow the communist solution to this very real problem. Most environmental groups consist of “useful idiots” taking us deep into the Communist manifesto as their solution.. People are so clueless and blind as to this communist color revolution that we are currently in, that they actually support organizations like BLM.

    I do believe scripture says something about my people dying for lack of knowledge and to have eyes to see and ears to hear.

    We are missing a major part of having dominion over the earth. That is having dominion over Satan and evil on this earth.

    Isn’t much of the Old Testament about this? About Justice?

    Modern Christians have done the opposite. They embrace and ignore the evil on this earth. In fact we have implemented our versions of all 10 planks of the communist manifesto here, and are undergoing a communist color revolution run in large part by our CIA, helped by treasonous members of congress, treasonous state governors, treasonous supreme court, and a dumbed down public.

    http://www.criminalgovernment.com/docs/planks.htm…

    http://www.libertyzone.com/Communist-Manifesto-Pl…

    1. Joe Tittiger says:

      If we do not wake up to this Communist China covid scam that was designed from the very beginning to destroy our economy and create a socialist/communist welfare state of controllable people, we are going to have some MAJOR environmental problems.

      The first one that you are going to soon see is an orchestrated famine and many Americans staving to death. During the last depression 7 million Americans are said to have starved to death.

      I will not go into to details here but we are very close to a nuclear confrontation with China. We are close to a nuclear false flag in this country. These are the environmental problems that we need to be aware of and to focus on.

  13. june says:

    How can Christians destroy the environment? China is destroying our environment. How did the oceans get in such a mess? Japan and its continuous radioactive spill doesnt help.

    Blaming Christians for one more thing when all we want to do is have our God given rights to worship our Lord.

    Christians come to the aid of the poor. How many wells in Africa have environmentalists built?

    1. Joe Tittiger says:

      Ever look up in the sky and see the chem-trails?
      Before you knee-jerk go see what the experts say:

      https://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/

      I have never been in a church where they were aware of chem trailing much less wanting to do something about it.

    2. Hi June,
      I would be happy to address your questions. I you email me and can give you my phone number. It is easier for me to communicate effectively verbally than with an email or post.
      Merry Christmas!
      Gordon

  14. june says:

    Ben, I’ve been following you since your interview with Dr. Mercola, I think you are an over achiever and offer great insight to staying healthy. And I love that you are a Christian xoxo.

    I do not know your politics and I’m thankful for that.

    You are a blessing. Keep up the good work.

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