Monday, 9 February 2009

David Attenborough Thinks Genesis is to Blame for the Exploitation of Nature

Sir David Attenborough. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Known for his natural history programmes, Sir David Attenborough has for 50 years been one the principal spokesmen for Darwinian evolution.

Recently the BBC icon stepped into the sphere of religion. In a brief video David Attenborough claimed that we can blame the book of Genesis for the exploitation of nature. Evolution, in contrast, helps us to take care of the environment.

Sounds a bit like Freud. So what does Genesis really say about exploiting nature?

Let's take a closer look.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
(Genesis 1:26-28)

Sir David obviously took issue with the idea of man being placed higher than the animals in God’s hierarchy.

Genesis does not give us the right to spoil the planet and destroy its life. It also has a verse that speaks about the mandate to preserve the earth:

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2: 15)

Unlike Neo-Darwinese, the Bible practically never uses Orwellian phrases. More often, it means what it says. Thus, take care of is obviously not a synonym for exploit.

In contrast, Darwinian evolution is supposed to be a Malthusian struggle for existence, with nature being red in tooth and claw. How could this possibly preserve nature?

It seems that Attenborough’s claim had more to do with his naturalistic worldview than with anything else.