Q: What should be our attitude about climate change, and what responsibility do we have for preserving the planet?
Thanks for this timely question about climate change and our responsibilities to nature.
I was first led to this section in The Urantia Book called: God and Nature. This section is a good read, and explains the relationship between God and Nature. In it we read this:
Nature is a time-space resultant of two cosmic factors: first, the immutability, perfection, and rectitude of Paradise Deity, and second, the experimental plans, executive blunders, insurrectionary errors, incompleteness of development, and imperfection of wisdom of the extra-Paradise creatures, from the highest to the lowest. Nature therefore carries a uniform, unchanging, majestic, and marvelous thread of perfection from the circle of eternity; but in each universe, on each planet, and in each individual life, this nature is modified, qualified, and perchance marred by the acts, the mistakes, and the disloyalties of the creatures of the evolutionary systems and universes; and therefore must nature ever be of a changing mood, whimsical withal, though stable underneath, and varied in accordance with the operating procedures of a local universe.
And nature is marred, her beautiful face is scarred, her features are seared, by the rebellion, the misconduct, the misthinking of the myriads of creatures who are a part of nature, but who have contributed to her disfigurement in time. No, nature is not God. Nature is not an object of worship.
I am certainly not an expert, but I do think that it’s hard to really tell what the truth of our situation is here with regards to climate change; on the one hand, it seems that everyone can see that there are big changes taking place, but not everyone agrees about the causes of these changes, or whether human beings are completely responsible. We do know from The Urantia Book that the evolution of the planet is ongoing, and that the climate can change dramatically over time. But it does seem pretty extreme right now. And a lot of the evidence does point to human involvement at least in some measure.
But we can also see nature’s “beautiful face” scarred through things like warfare, unwise methods of mining her treasures, pollution of the earth’s atmosphere and her waters through fossil fuel use, disastrous leakages of nuclear radiation and poisoning of the soil with chemicals. Not only that, but we have stockpiled enough weapons to probably obliterate our little blue planet if the right set of circumstances came together – and we sure hope that day never comes!
As far as I know, The Urantia Book does not explicitly tell us about our responsibility as regards preserving the planet or its environment; only that should a time come when the planet becomes uninhabitable, that the human race will be moved to another planet to continue its evolution. It seems that that is the primary concern – the human race must continue, whether here or someplace else.
But having said all that, it does seem that when we, as a species, know better, we might want to do better in this area. For example, when we know that fossil fuels pollute the air, that gas and coal mining pollute our waters, and that our soils are fragile and being over fertilized, also resulting in pollution of waterways … and when we know that there are sustainable energy sources available such as solar and wind, organic farming, etc..that we might want to take advantage of that, instead of the older, polluting ways we’ve known and used up until now. And this IS happening, if we can believe the reports of the burgeoning solar and wind industries.
Had our world not suffered the loss of our Adam and Eve through default, they would have helped us along to understand our relationship with nature and we would likely not be having the kinds of problems we are now having. With their guidance, we would know all about being good stewards of the environment – we would understand that we are a part of it, not separate from it. But as it is, we are left to struggle through the slow evolutionary steps that it will take for us – as a species – to finally become responsible for our environment.
It’s a long slog made more difficult in these times by the overwhelming influences of money and power that struggle to dominate nature – to bend it to their will. And this has been true for centuries. Profit gained by the exploitation of natural resources seems at times to overwhelm any voices of stewardship; and again, this is an unfortunate repercussion of our even earlier disaster, the Lucifer rebellion. As long as profit and greed are involved, we have a lot to overcome. And of course, this really stems from ignorance of our true place in relationship with nature.
But as individuals, we can certainly be responsible as regards what we do, and how we do it. Being careful with water usage, driving cars that pollute less, and recycling waste, are some ways individuals can help the planet. We can become activists/organizers, we can become political, we can make our voices heard. We can write or call our representatives, and stay involved with environmental issues. I guess it depends upon what each person is willing to do. But if enough raise their voices together, they’ll be heard.
In that passage above, we’re told that nature is “stable underneath,” which I take to mean that no matter what we do to our world, nature will repair itself somehow; but that does not mean that the repair will be pleasant or that we’ll like what happens if we go too far. Perhaps climate change is part of that; I can’t say.
In the end, it’s good to remember that the earth has sustained the human race for over a million years; but it’s also good to remember that we are sojourners here, not permanent residents. And so we have to keep the long view, and not be discouraged. Here’s an interesting – and hopeful passage from the book:
118:10.14 Man’s increasing control—the gradual accumulation of the knowledge of the laws of the material world, the purposes of spiritual existence, and the possibilities of the philosophic co-ordination of these two realities. Man, the savage, was helpless before the onslaughts of natural forces, was slavish before the cruel mastery of his own inner fears. Semicivilized man is beginning to unlock the storehouse of the secrets of the natural realms, and his science is slowly but effectively destroying his superstitions while at the same time providing a new and enlarged factual basis for the comprehension of the meanings of philosophy and the values of true spiritual experience. Man, the civilized, will someday achieve relative mastery of the physical forces of his planet; the love of God in his heart will be effectively outpoured as love for his fellow men, while the values of human existence will be nearing the limits of mortal capacity.
And a favorite quote of mine is:
100:2.7 Jesus portrayed the profound surety of the God-knowing mortal when he said: “To a God-knowing kingdom believer, what does it matter if all things earthly crash?” Temporal securities are vulnerable, but spiritual sureties are impregnable. When the flood tides of human adversity, selfishness, cruelty, hate, malice, and jealousy beat about the mortal soul, you may rest in the assurance that there is one inner bastion, the citadel of the spirit, which is absolutely unassailable; at least this is true of every human being who has dedicated the keeping of his soul to the indwelling spirit of the eternal God.
I don’t think this means we should be fatalists, and let things go on that we disagree about, but it seems that we should go about our lives acting in the way that we feel is the most responsible way to live, the Godly way to live, all the while realizing that the most important thing to keep in mind is that we are beloved children of God on our way to a very different life after this one. So, while we try to do our part as we are and where we are, we might benefit by adopting a far-reaching, universe view of not only our planet and its role in human evolution, but our individual development as sometime ascending sons of God on the eternal journey.
Thanks again for writing, and I hope that this reply has been helpful.