Saturday, August 22, 2015

Humans as "Super-Predators"? There's a Commandment for that!

A couple of University of Victoria researchers are about to publish a study on humans as "super-predators".  It's an extension of something people have talked about for a long time: over-fishing, over-hunting and over-using our resources in all ways.

The study acknowledges that, on the one hand, hunting at a rate greater than that of lower animals -- who tend only to take only what they need for themselves or their immediate group -- is necessary, because not everybody hunts or fishes. But we tend to over-do it, and that's led to extinctions and threatening of species, not to mention deforestation and its effects, for the sake of creating more pasture land for livestock. Throw climate change into the mix, and it's a recipe for catastrophe.

Just in case we didn't have anything more to worry about.

In my book, A Very Convenient Truth, or, Jesus Warned Us There'd Be Days Like These, So Stop Worrying About the Planet and Get With His Program!, I point out that humans were actually placed on earth to "have dominion ... replenish the earth and subdue it." Over-use of any resource, including the animals who were given to us for food, leads to environmental trauma.

What's interesting, though, is that the authors of the study refer to human behaviour as "unnatural", as if humans are supposed to be just like animals. But we're not: we're different: in fact, Scripture tells us, we are created on a higher level so that we can care for and nurture creation, and enjoy it at the same time.

(Indeed, I'd suggest that the way any animal or human behaves is not natural but creational: according to the way God made us all; but that's for another time.)

But because we tend to over-do things and respond to animal instincts, God gave us His Commandments to point us in the right direction. You'll find those instructions throughout the Old Testament (particularly in Leviticus), including the proper use of land and the way to kill for food. Those instructions usually require faith -- the knowledge that God will reward our obedience by providing for us what we need*. Stepping away from that obedience leaves us without His protection, and while we might get a short-term fix for our needs, we lose out in the long run. Indeed, we see the results every day, as the UVic researchers have pointed out.

The authors of the study suggest that humans could learn a lot from lower animals when it comes to killing animals for food, but we have to remember that a lot of people who eat meat are not the ones who kill it. So where's the happy medium between necessity and overkill?

The Word of God, as I say, provides the instructions we need. Remember that the Word was given to us long before there was any idea that over-fishing or over-hunting would ever be an issue. Yet God saw it coming, and gave us His Commandments to save us from that.

But while the answer to this super-predator situation implied by the UVic researchers appears to involve nothing more drastic than a complete re-set of the thinking and behaviour of our entire species, the beauty of our relationship with God is that He has provided us with an "out" -- one that does not rely on someone else taking the lead. In Christ, each of us, individually, can repent for the sin of failing to follow those Commandments, turn back to Him and re-start with a clean slate. Indeed (and here's the basis for my book), He promised long before Jesus came that if people repent and turn back to Him, "I will heal the land".

*I should point out that what God knows that we need is significantly different from what we think we need: it's usually more, so that when our "cup runneth over", it spilleth onto others. "Blessed to be a blessing," and all that.

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