Gaga Over Gaia

We've all seen them: bumper stickers that tell you to "Love Your Mother." The blue-green picture of planet earth tips you off, however, that they're not referring to the woman who gave birth to you. No, they're talking about Mother Earth. The bumper sticker underscores the fact that many environmentalists believe that Planet Earth is a conscious, living being. This belief is spawning an alternative religion-one that says planets are more important than people. The idea of the earth as a self-regulating, living organism was formulated by British biologist James Lovelock. It's called the Gaia Hypothesis, named after the Greek earth goddess. But Green thinkers took what began as a purely scientific idea and gave it a distinctively New Age spin. Clifford Longley, writing in the Times of London, says the concept of Gaia "offers New Ageism the beginnings of a theology. Gaia is made to sound like a mother goddess who is divine protectress of all living things." This image is attractive because many people have a false image of the Christian God as harsh and domineering. They're drawn to the alternative, a maternal goddess figure who is peace-loving, gentle, and nurturing. Richard North, environmental correspondent for the Independent of London, writes, "An awful lot of us just need to worship something. We are all falling in love with the environment as a result of having fallen out of love with God." But by giving Planet Earth a kind of consciousness, environmentalists create a biological and spiritual pseudo-entity that is much larger, and by implication much more important than human beings. After all, if the earth is an incredibly wise, all-knowing, conscious organism, by comparison, you and I are pretty small potatoes. Environmentalist Carol Christ tells us just how small: "We [humans]," she says, "are no more valuable to the life of the universe than a field [of flowers]." But if humans are no more important than a field of flowers, then killing off a few of us is no more significant than swatting flies. That's why some environmentalists plant dynamite in trees about to be logged-so when the chainsaw hits it, the dynamite blows up the log. And some radical environmentalists advocate killing humans to make more space for other species. Environmental writer J. Baird Caldicott thinks eliminating 90 percent of us would be just about right. Well, this is nonsensical prattling by extremists, but it does show the truth that the pantheism of the Gaia hypothesis is hardly the loving, nurturing alternative it's touted to be. Only Scripture gives us a properly high view of nature without sacrificing a high view of human life. Genesis teaches that we are created in God's image, and we alone are charged with the supreme responsibility of caring for the rest of God's creation. We're told to be stewards, to care for the Earth and its inhabitants, and not to treat them carelessly or selfishly. Christians need to understand the profound spiritual hunger that's behind much of today's radical environmentalism. Explain to your unbelieving friends that the God of the Bible isn't the harsh and domineering figure of the stereotype. And if you see them going gaga over Gaia, help them understand why Mother Earth can be a very cruel stepmother.


Chuck Colson



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