The Apostle Paul believed that man’s deep desire to worship—if not properly directed at God—would inevitably turn to a worship of the creation. Reject the creator, deify the cosmos. That’s clearly illustrated in the recent Huffington Post article “God is Our Planet” by author and biologist Mary Ellen Harte.
Harte argues that our greatest act of worship is to recognize our dependance upon our divine planet, and our vilest sins are our “thoughtless explosion in numbers and consumption of resources.” Our depravity is seen in our large families and our large cars to tote said families. It seems that the planetary god would be happier if we reduced our population and left it alone.
This piece illustrates a pseudo-divine view of creation. This is similar to a worldview popular in the east known as pantheistic monism, everything that exists is one and everything is god. But such a view leads to a complete loss of human values. If everything is one and everything is god, then anything that is distinct is merely an illusion—including us.
This same shadow falls over the materialistic view of reality that reduces everything to matter and energy. Like eastern pantheistic monism, the materialistic worldview also leads to a hollow humanity where immaterial values like love and justice are discarded as illusory. We can embrace views like pantheism or materialism and reject our humanity or we can find a worldview big enough to explain what it means to be human.
Such an outlook must resonate with our lived experience—with our humanness in all of its splendor and tragedy and stubborn optimism. The only thing I know that is up to the challenge is the gospel. And as the Apostle Paul taught in his letter to the Romans, of this gospel may we never be ashamed. It’s the only story big enough to fit in the entire universe and the human condition. And the best thing about the gospel is that it’s true.