The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Friday, September 12, 2003
The Limits of Environmentalism: Animal "Rights"
Adam (and by implication the rest of mankind who he covenantally represented) was call to be a steward of creation. Besides working the earth (which inevitably involved bringing changes to it), he was also called to keep the earth (Gen 2:15). Keeping (=guarding or preserving) at its heart was Adam's duty to maintain the beauty and fruitfulness of the earth. Any development which destroyed the fruitfulness was to be avoided.

Being a steward of the earth has many affinities with the modern (secular) environmentalist movement. But the similarities, where they are found, are, I believe, only superficial. What lies under the surface of each are radically different worldviews. It seems to me that many Christians are too quick to embrace the policies and solutions of environmentalists. They see a real need: repairing the effects of sin and curse on creation, but choose the wrong solutions to the problem.

Which brings me to this insightful quote from Stuart Buck's blog critiquing a wrongheaded view of animal rights (which is a key componant of the enviromentalist worldview):

"But if one believes that animals have intrinsic rights (even if they're not equal to ours) and it is the duty of society to protect these rights, then society is duty-bound to protect seals not only from hunters, but from polar bears and orcas! Because human beings have intrinsic rights, the police are obligated to come to my aid whether I'm being attacked by an assailant or an alligator. It doesn't matter who or what is interfering with my right to preservation, the police will help me because they protect my basic rights. If animals had similarly intrinsic rights, it wouldn't matter what was hurting them, man or animal, either. But while the police will stop a man from beating a chicken, they won't stop the fox with a chicken in its jaws (except to protect the property rights of a rancher that owns the chicken)."