On Feb. 18-20, hundreds of people signed on for ‘The Goodness of Creation and Human Responsibility’ — a virtual conference hosted by the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture.
Theologians, economists and ecologists came together at this conference to highlight the link between creation and redemption. They discussed how evangelicals can recover biblical themes about the goodness of creation. And they explored our responsibility in creation and what practical actions we should take.
Here are six lessons I learned at this conference.
If God’s word speaks to all of life, then it certainly speaks to our interaction with the natural world.
1. Creation exists for the glory of God.
God, and not humans or creation, is the center of the story, and all creation exists by his commands and for his purpose…. All of creation is designed to be a megaphone declaring God exists and is worthy of all glory and praise.
— Mark Liederbach
Mark Liederbach kicked off the conference by laying the theological foundation for creation care. To do so, he went back to the creation narratives in Genesis 1-2, and he reminded us that creation ultimately exists for God’s glory.
2. Faith and science are friends, not enemies.
I’m a climate scientist because I’m a Christian. You heard that right… not in spite of, but because of the fact I’m a Christian.
— Katharine Hayhoe
Katharine Hayhoe delivered a fascinating talk on the fact and fiction of climate change. What I found most interesting was her claim that she pursued her studies because of her faith, not in spite of it.
So often we assume that faith and science are opposed to each other. Most of us especially don’t know how reconcile our faith and the claims of climate scientists. But for Hayhoe and others, faith and science cohere beautifully. Faith and science — even climate science — aren’t contradictory.
3. Remember where history is headed.
We’ve missed the telos of creation — that all things will be made new. Not that God will make all new things, but that this creation is good, and God will make all things new.
— Jonathan Wilson
When we seek to understand the world, we’re tempted to begin the conversation at the fall in Genesis 3. Jonathan Wilson urged us to look back further. “When Genesis 3 becomes the dominant story, we lose the goodness of creation,” he explained. Instead, we should begin back in Genesis 1-2 when God made all things and declared them good.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have the promise that God will make all things new (Revelation 21:5). As Wilson explained, understanding the origins of creation and the purpose of creation can help us deal responsibly with it now.
4. We need faith and science to understand our complex world.
Science is not our exclusive guide to reality. We need different maps.
— Alister McGrath
Some would claim that science is the ultimate guide to reality. But Alister McGrath explained that such reasoning is “viciously circular.” Moreover, if science is the only guide to reality, McGrath said, “you cannot make ethical pronouncements.” There can be no right and wrong, no good and bad.
Science is an important map to understand the world around us, but it cannot be the only map. As Christians, we believe that faith is essential. McGrath noted that science maps our world at one level and faith at another. “We need to superimpose those maps,” he explained. The world is complex, and faith is an indispensable tool to understand it.
Science is an important map to understand the world around us, but it cannot be the only map.
5. Don’t be reckless.
For the sake of the gospel, we can’t afford to be reckless with these issues.
— Rusty Pritchard
Rusty Pritchard is an economist and ecologist. In his talk, he explored the biblical basis for creation care. He noted that many believers have never heard theology applied to environmental issues. But if God’s word speaks to all of life, then it certainly speaks to our interaction with the natural world. We would be wise not to speak carelessly — and recklessly — without properly applying a biblical theology to these problems.
6. Remember the why of creation.
Life is not simply something we endure… It’s the place where God’s love can be at work if the impediments… can be removed.
— Norman Wirzba
Norman Wirzba argued that the biblical accounts of creation aren’t primarily about the mechanics of how the world came to be. Rather, he explained, they tell us why the world exists, why it matters that it exists, and what existence is ultimately for.
Creation, then, isn’t just about the what. It explains the why. And Wirzba argued that life’s purpose is to experience God’s love and presence.
What did you learn at the conference? Tell us in the comments. Also, if you’d like to be notified when we publish the lecture videos, you can drop your email address in the box below.