Civic Scholar

Many people have heated opinions on climate change and sometimes, the topic of conservation gets caught in the crossfire.

Conservation is the “careful maintenance and upkeep of a natural resource” — such as land, minerals, water, plants, animals and even air — “to prevent it from disappearing,” according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Kyle Harris, director of organismal and environmental biology, related the principle of conservation to the creation story found in Genesis.

“Conservation flows out of our beliefs in what is true, beautiful and good,” Harris said. “Driving our efforts is the reality that the triune God created the heavens and the Earth. Fundamentally, conservation, whether it be conservation biology or other forms of conservation, is about cultivation and rule.”

Part of what makes conservation important is the benefits and opportunities it creates. The official government website of Massachusetts listed some of the benefits of land conservation: protecting water resources, creating and enhancing outdoor recreation, preserving working farms and forests and protecting wildlife habitat. Another benefit, Harris added, is that conservation helps sustain the world that supports life.

Harris also noted that conservation, as part of the dominion over the world given to us by God, is not optional.

“Simply put, conservation of the natural world is important because God spoke the living world into existence and God gave mankind the responsibility to have dominion over it,” Harris said. “Dominion is not optional. Life has intrinsic value because he created it.”

Right now, Harris would say the scientific community “by and large wants to see the living world conserved” and is advancing the efforts of conservation. However, he noted that the scientific community’s motives for supporting conservation are not rooted in Christ. He describes the secular approach as one of “domination and control” as opposed to “cultivation and rule.”

Harris reminds students not to get distracted by grand political agendas. He encourages students to focus on what they can control instead. One may not be able to control the outcome of politics or the actions of their government, but they can control what they are doing in their homes, at church and at work.

“When Christians and the Church remember what we are called to do — godly dominion and cultivation of the created order — which rightly flows out of a call to obedience in every corner of our lives, then we set a needed example and are looked to for leadership in this task of conservation,” Harris said.

Harris often tells his BIOL 125 students that he is contributing to conservation by raising up children that will love and appreciate God’s creation. However, some may argue that having more children only contributes to the world’s carbon footprint. According to Harris, this is nothing to fret over since carbon dioxide is part of God’s design for the world.

“The global community has been talking about carbon ‘footprints’ for a long time,” Harris said. “Realize that CO2, the very gas that you … exhale, is classified as a pollutant. … Part of this biological story is that plants need CO2; this is part of a bigger aspect of how the created order declares God’s glory.”

Above all, Harris encourages students to remember that God should be at the heart of conservation.

“As Christians, we need to have a long-term vision for the godly cultivation and rule of the created order,” Harris said. “Our priorities need to realign with God’s Word for this to be cultivated with a profound impact on conservation practices. This will mean giving up daily the desire to lift up our names for temporal renown and instead living for and daily lifting up the name and renown of our creator.”

Bear is the editor-in-chief for the Liberty Champion. Follow her on X

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