Cultural Transformation and Conservation: Growth ... Transformation and Conservation: Growth, Influence, and Challenges for the Judeo-Christian Stewardship Environmental Ethic Fred Van Dyke In a period of less ...

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Cultural Transformation andConservation: Growth, Influence,and Challenges for theJudeo-Christian StewardshipEnvironmental EthicFred Van DykeIn a period of less than thirty years, the Judeo-Christian tradition was transformed frombeing perceived by scientific and popular culture as the cause of the ecologic crisis to beingviewed as a major contributor to its solution. The increasing attention and respect given tothe Judeo-Christian environmental stewardship ethic is in large part a result of carefulscholarship and effective activism in environmental ethics and conservation by the Christiancommunity. In this article, I examine the specific events and processes that led to thistransformation, what this transformation represents, and the work yet required to complete it.The present challenges for Christians active in environmental stewardship are to transformthe current understanding of the purpose of conservation, the value of what is conserved,and the role of the human presence in environmental management.In a widely used text on conservationbiology published in 1994, environmen-tal ethicist J. Baird Callicott wrote:The Judeo-Christian StewardshipEnvironmental Ethic is especially ele-gant and powerful. It also exquisitelymatches the requirements of conserva-tion biology. The Judeo-Christian Stew-ardship Environmental Ethic confersobjective value on nature in the clearestand most unambiguous of ways: bydivine decree.1Callicott is referring to the text of Genesis 1,where six times in the first twenty-fiveverses, God looks at what he has made andcalls it good, all before humankind appears.Somewhere today in a state college oruniversity in the United States, or elsewhere,students in a conservation biology class willbe taught that the Judeo-Christian Steward-ship Ethic is especially elegant and power-ful in its articulation of the intrinsic valueof nature, one that exquisitely matches therequirements of conservation biology.Recent history suggests that people havebeen inclined to believe exactly the opposite,an inclination captured in the words of thelate UCLA historian Lynn White, Jr.:Christianity not only established adualism of man and nature but alsoinsisted that it is Gods will that manexploit nature for his proper ends.2Hence we shall continue to have aworsening ecologic crisis until we rejectthe Christian axiom that nature has noreason for existence save to serve man.3These words are part of that infamous essay,The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis, pub-lished in Science in 1967. Whites conclusionwas that the historical roots of our ecologic48 Perspectives on Science and Christian FaithArticleCultural Transformation and Conservation: Growth, Influence, andChallenges for the Judeo-Christian Stewardship Environmental EthicToday students in aconservationbiology classwill be taughtthat theJudeo-ChristianStewardshipEthic is[a majorcontributor tothe solutionof the ecologiccrisis].Fred Van Dyke is professor of biology at Wheaton College (Illinois) where hedirects the Environmental Studies Program. Fred earned his Ph.D. in Environ-mental and Forest Biology from the State University of New YorkSyracuse.A former wildlife biologist with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, andParks, he also has served as a consultant to the National Park Service and theUS Forest Service. Fred has authored numerous articles and book chapters onwildlife ecology and environmental ethics, and the books Conservation Biology:Foundations, Concepts, Applications; A Workbook in ConservationBiology: Solving Practical Problems in Conservation; and RedeemingCreation: The Biblical Basis of Environmental Stewardship with David C.Mahan, Joseph K. Sheldon, and Raymond H. Brand. Fred enjoys cycling andrunning 5ks, and managed to finish seventh among sixty-one men in his agegroup in Wheatons 2005 Run for the Animals 5k, a race that benefits thelocal zoo. He can be reached at fred.g.vandyke@wheaton.eduFred Van Dykecrisis originated in the Judeo-Christian understanding ofthe human relationship to nature. In this view, according toWhite, no item in the physical creation had any purposesave to serve mans purposes.4[In 1967] Whites conclusion was thatthe historical roots of our ecologic crisisoriginated in the Judeo-Christian under-standing of the human relationship tonature. White proposed that a newethical path was needed because of moraldeficiency in Judeo-Christian teachingabout the environment.Whites essay was part of an overall trend in the late1960s and early 1970s to discover single root causes forthe environmental crisis, with other such efforts variouslyblaming common property institutions5 or capitalism andcolonialism.6 None of these explanations proved sustain-able under intellectual scrutiny, but Whites thesis provedthe most popular, and enjoyed a vigorous and extendedlife in popular environmental circles long after it had beendiscredited in academic ones.7 One of the most influentialarticles of its generation, Whites essay was quoted often,with and without acknowledgment, by scholars in everyconceivable field, its thesis repeated, simplified, amplified,extended, or even blatantly distorted, but never ignored.8Part of its success was that it told secular academics whatthey wanted to hear, that religious traditions in general,and Christianity in particular, were contemptible mythol-ogies, justifiably despised. Another element was its plas-ticity. As religious scholar Thomas Sieger Derr describedit: It is almost magically adaptable, serving historians,ecologists, drop-outs, religion haters, social planners,commune dwellers, and more, giving to each what hewants in his or her own situation.9But, that point admitted, we must not overlook the fun-damental nature of Whites criticism. Whites charge is notthat Christians at various times and places have not donewhat they ought to have done in regard to the care of theEarth. Rather Whites charges are fundamentally a moralattack on Christian tradition itself. White is not claimingthat Christians have failed to live up to a Christian ethic,but that the ethic itself was inadequate. Thus, White pro-posed that a new ethical path was needed because of moraldeficiency in Judeo-Christian teaching about the environment.This distinction is important. Historical Roots was a call tothrow off an inferior ethical authority and adopt an ethicalapproach that was higher and better. This is an effectivestrategy for changing the direction of cultural currents.Using this technique, the objector asserts that the tradi-tional standard itself is morally corrupt, that preciselybecause people obeyed traditional ethical authority theywere destined to create moral evil. Because White held upthe Judeo-Christian tradition as morally inferior to otherethical systems, he opened the door for those systems to bedeveloped as legitimate intellectual and moral alterna-tives. Arguably this may not have been what Whiteintended, but it is what he helped to achieve. Althoughother scholars, both Christian and secular, joined inWhites criticisms of Christian faith and specific Christiandoctrines, their critiques came after White had createdthe breach, not before.10The question of interest today is, how, in a span of lessthan thirty years (19671994), did we travel from Whitesconclusion, that Christianity is the cause of the ecologiccrisis, a conclusion popularly accepted by everybodyin respectable intellectual circles in its time, to Callicottsconclusion, today taught in conservation biology classesaround the world, that Christianity provides an ethic ofconservation that is elegant and powerful that exqui-sitely matches the requirements of conservation biologyand establishes the intrinsic value of nature in the mostunambiguous of ways?Environmental philosopher Max Oelschlaegeracknowledged the profound influence of Lynn Whitesessay in the formation of his own view of the environ-mental crisis and its cause. He wrote:For most of my adult life, I believed, as many envi-ronmentalists do, that religion was the primary causeof the ecologic crisis. I also assumed that variousexperts had solutions to the environmental malaise.I was a true believer I lost that faith by bits andpieces by discovering the roots of my prejudiceagainst religion. That bias grew out of my readingof Lynn Whites famous essay blaming Judeo-Christianity for the environmental crisis.11From this point, Oelschlaeger goes on to describe how hisviewpoint radically changed, until, he now admits: Thechurch may be, in fact, our last best chance. My conjectureis this: there are no solutions for the systemic causes ofecocrisis, at least in democratic societies, apart from reli-gious narrative.12Similarly, in a published apology to Bartholomew I,Patriarch of the Orthodox Church, Carl Pope, Presidentof the Sierra Club, speaking of his own generation ofenvironmentalists, acknowledged:Volume 58, Number 1, March 2006 49Fred Van DykeWe sought to transform society, butignored the fact that when Americanswant to express something wiser andbetter than they are as individuals, byand large they gather to pray. We actedas if we could save life on Earth withoutthe same institutions through whichwe save ourselves.13Speaking directly of the influence of Whitesessay in creating hostility between Christian-ity and conservation, Pope confessed:Too many environmentalists consideredthe case closed. We became as narrow-minded as any religious zealot, andproceeded to glorify creation and smitethose who would sin against it on ourown, without regard for the faithcommunity.14How did we get from the words of Whiteto the words of Oelschlaeger? How did wemove from the Sierra Clubs antagonism toits apology? How did Christianity changefrom being the cause of the environmentalcrisis to becoming the solution to it? I wantto explain how this transformation occurred,and then suggest a path by which it mightcontinue.Historical Roots and theBeginnings of CulturalTransformationWhites essay disparaged the Christiantradition sufficiently to open the door forconsideration of alternatives to the Judeo-Christian tradition in all matters environ-mental. But it could not do this without,at the same time, making religion in general,and Christianity in particular, an ecologicalissue. Specifically, Whites attack on Chris-tianity provided occasion for the defense ofChristianity on issues of environmentalstewardship. Historical Roots created relevancefor Christian interaction with the environ-ment that had not previously existed. It was,in fact, the spark that ignited the develop-mental fire of the modern Judeo-Christianenvironmental stewardship ethic, the onethat Callicott and others now recognize asespecially elegant and powerful. But first,its elegance and power had to be expressed.That expression was developed throughthree phases.Following the publication of HistoricalRoots, Christian scholars in general, andReformed evangelical Christian scholarsin particular, began a sustained intellectualresponse to Whites work. In doing so,they not only refuted Whites accusations,but also created a body of scholarship dem-onstrating that environmental stewardshipwas rooted in biblical teaching and doctrine.15Among the first to make use of such scholar-ship were professors at Christian colleges.As Christian academics began to incorporatethese resources into their teaching, they alsobegan to use them to shape new courses,and then, entire curricula in environmentalstudies, which led to the development ofprograms, majors, centers, and institutesdedicated to environmental stewardship.Today thirty-six of the 105 schools of theCouncil for Christian Colleges and Universi-ties have majors, programs, or concentrationsin environmental study. One has a graduateprogram. Sixty are participating colleges withthe Au Sable Institute, a Christian instituteof environmental studies, itself a product ofthis intellectual heritage. Three colleges evenhave separate institutes with some type ofenvironmental mission associated with theircampus.This academic and educational responsedid what colleges and universities naturallydo. It produced graduates, trained in scienceand driven by a Christian ethic, facing anurgent need. Such graduates soon becameactivists. Thus, by the 1980s, the Christiancommunity had begun to enter an activiststage in environmental stewardship, inwhich initiatives in more professionally-directed environmental education and advo-cacy were being advanced by the Christiancommunity.In 1981 Dordt College established itsAgricultural Stewardship Center, an insti-tute to train future farmers in environmentalconservation in the context of day-to-day lifeon the family farm. Two years earlier, in 1979,Cal DeWitt of the University of Wisconsin-Madison initiated, as director of the Au SableInstitute of Environmental Studies, a curric-ulum of advanced scientific and professionalcourses to support the study and practice ofenvironmental stewardship as an expressionof Christian vocation. It was a visionaryinitiative that would ultimately lead toAu Sables development as an educational50 Perspectives on Science and Christian FaithArticleCultural Transformation and Conservation: Growth, Influence, andChallenges for the Judeo-Christian Stewardship Environmental EthicWhites essaydisparagedthe Christiantraditionsufficientlyto openthe door forconsideration ofalternatives tothe Judeo-Christiantraditionin all mattersenvironmental. Specifically,Whites attackon Christianityprovidedoccasionfor thedefense ofChristianityon issues ofenvironmentalstewardship.institution with an explicitly Christian vision of environ-mental conservation serving over one hundred collegesand thousands of students on five campuses on threecontinents. The following year a small trust fund wasestablished by Christians in the United Kingdom as acharity to support an obscure conservation field stationin Portugal, a mustard seed that would grow to becomethe modern-day A Rocha, an international organization ofChristians in conservation now active in fifteen countriesand influential in several international conservationorganizations.16This academic and educational response produced graduates, trained in scienceand driven by a Christian ethic, facingan urgent need. Such graduates soonbecame activists. Thus, by the 1980s, initiatives in more professionally-directedenvironmental education and advocacywere being advanced by the Christiancommunity.A Rochas work was exemplary but not unique. The1980s saw the birth of numerous Christian organizationswith explicitly environmental missions, most of whichcontinue their work to this day. Such developments inthe Christian community continued and expanded intothe 90s, sometimes merging conservation education andactivism in remarkably creative ways. In 1998, GreenvilleCollege (Illinois) dedicated the Zahniser Institute ofEnvironmental Studies. Named for one of its own alumni,Howard Zahniser, for many years editor of The LivingWilderness and one of the principal advocates and archi-tects of The Wilderness Act of 1964, the ZahniserInstitutes stated mission is, in part, to promote thepreservation of unique and wild places; to facilitate theintegration of an ethic of environmental stewardship intothe conservative moral constructs of our society; andto use muscle, sinew, will, and spirit to restore Nature.Through the Institute, an environmental consulting firmis run by Greenville faculty and students as a co-curricularprogram. Starting with local consulting efforts in wetlandrestoration in Illinois, Zahniser has expanded its workto Missouri and Kansas, and now includes prairie, forest,and mined land restoration efforts.As these and other efforts became established theyhave evolved into a third phase of Christian response, theemergence of active Christian engagement in research andmanagement with existing scientific agencies to providetechnical and scientific service in pursuit of environmentalconservation. Some of these efforts have been carried onby older organizations, such as A Rocha, which is nowinvolved in the conservation and management of forty-two species worldwide. Others have been pursued inentirely new ways, or by entirely new programs, suchas the Global Stewardship Initiative, funded by the PewCharitable Trust, which provided funds for advancedtechnical support, such as GIS systems, for teaching envi-ronmental and conservation studies at Christian colleges.Among evangelical colleges, Taylor University has devel-oped a graduate research program in environmentalstudies. From 19951999, Northwestern College (Iowa)established a cooperative partnership in research andmanagement with the US Fish and Wildlife Servicethrough its Cooperative Cost Share and Nongame BirdResearch Programs17 and, in 2000, with the NaturalResource Conservation Service through that agencysConservation Reserve Program.18 From 19951998, per-sistent lobbying efforts by TargetEarth, the EvangelicalEnvironmental Network, and other Christian environ-mental organizations were instrumental in derailingrepeated attempts to amend and weaken the EndangeredSpecies Act in a politically conservative, Republican-controlled Congress.19Such efforts represent the ongoing process of culturaltransformation in conservation in and through the Chris-tian community, and I am concerned here with exploringhow such transformation might continue. To answer thatquestion, we must ask, and answer, another. Is Christian-ity really necessary and essential to the work of conserva-tion, or is it just a nice add on to involve Christians inwhat real conservationists are doing already, and willcontinue to do when the church has lost interest? To pro-vide an answer, I will divide that question into three parts.First, how does Christian faith transform the purpose ofconservation? Second, how does Christian faith transformthe value of what is conserved? Third, how does Christianfaith transform the role of the human conservationist, andof the entire human presence in the conservation of theworlds biodiversity and environmental resources?The Problem of Purpose:What Is Conservation For?Although not always recognized, the most fundamentalproblem plaguing conservation today is the problem ofpurpose, a problem captured with eloquent brevity byHerman Daly in his classic essay, The Lurking Inconsis-Volume 58, Number 1, March 2006 51Fred Van Dyketency.20 Here Daly noted that the work ofconservation, with its emphasis on norma-tive goals, ends, and values, encourages thepublic to inquire, as they witness millionsof dollars spent on behalf of endangeredspecies, degraded ecosystems, and rare hab-itats, what is the purpose of conservation?Although this problem is now receivingattention by scholars in environmental eth-ics,21 their work so far has had little influenceon the day-to-day thought and practice ofthe professional conservation community.One would think that practicing conserva-tionists would have a ready answer to ques-tions of purpose. They certainly need one.But sadly, most do not.The question is often framed in economicterms (Why are we spending all this moneyon this species of turtle, sea grass, or sandworm?), and economists have stepped for-ward to argue for conserving biodiversity oneconomic grounds via techniques of contin-gent valuation. One of the most commonmethods of contingent valuation is the will-ingness to pay approach, in which individ-uals are asked how much would you bewilling to pay to save species X. Responsesare aggregated to generate an economicmeasure of the value of the species, aneconomic metric for a nonmarket entity.There are multiple problems with thisapproach, including many technical ones thatare best left to debates among the econo-mists themselves.22 We will consider hereonly the ethical problem, what could becalled the problem of purpose. The contin-gent valuation approach equates purposewith preference. The value of an endangeredspecies is no more than one is willing to payto express his or her own environmentaltaste for birds, fish, spiders, butterflies,mammals, reptiles, clams, plants, or bacte-ria, and those who are willing to pay themost are those who get to have their prefer-ences satisfied. This approach assumes thatthe only value in preserving biodiversity orecological integrity is usefulness or attrac-tiveness to humans, or more specifically,to the extent that the existence value of aspecies satisfies human preference. Deter-mining environmental policies to satisfy thepreferences of those who are willing to paythe most for them maximizes aggregate neteconomic benefit as a consequence of maxi-mizing human welfare (preference satisfac-tion). The net benefit is, in turn, measured asthe amount people are willing to pay forthose resources. This amounts to saying, asenvironmental ethicist Mark Sagoff put it,that resources should go to those willing topay the most for them because they are will-ing to pay the most for those resources.23Encumbered by such logic, contingentvaluation creates an ethical distortion in twodimensions. First, the intrinsic value of theentity to be conserved is conflated with per-sonal benefit to those doing the conserving,i.e., humans. Second, preference satisfactionbecomes conservations moral compass.Ironically, this is usually not the ethicalorientation of most respondents. When arespondent is asked, How much would youpay to save species X? she does not answerby calculating the economic benefit of theendangered species to her. Instead, sheassigns a relative estimate of value, that is,she makes a judgment regarding moral worthand ethical obligation to the preservation ofthe particular species, and a level of sacrificeshe is prepared to make to fulfill that obliga-tion. The tragedy of contingent valuation isthe confusion it makes between value andbenefit. And in doing so, it asserts that thepurpose of conservation is the satisfaction ofhuman preference as the means to benefitmaximization.If economists sometimes confuse the is-sue, conservation biologists are not alwaysable to locate it. Some would drop the wholeproject, affirming the sentiments of biologistDennis Murphy, who asserted that Conser-vation biology only exists because biologicalinformation is needed to guide policydecision making.24 If that view is correct,all questions of value and purpose in con-servation are terminated. Although mostconservation biologists might shrink fromMurphys bluntness, many still wish thequestion of purpose would disappear be-cause they believe that purpose is illusory,even if they are reluctant to admit it. Conser-vation biologists give public testimony to themedia and to the Congress that we should,among other things, save endangered spe-cies. When their audience asks, What for?conservation biologists speak about main-taining ecosystem integrity, or fulfilling ourencoded genetic love of life,25 or increasinglocal or global biodiversity.26 But these arestatements of description, not reason, and do52 Perspectives on Science and Christian FaithArticleCultural Transformation and Conservation: Growth, Influence, andChallenges for the Judeo-Christian Stewardship Environmental EthicAlthoughnot alwaysrecognized,the mostfundamentalproblemplaguingconservationtoday isthe problem ofpurpose One wouldthink thatpracticingconservationistswould havea ready answerto questions ofpurpose.Theycertainlyneed one.But sadly,most do not.not answer the question being asked. What appears to bepurpose is really only an expression of genes, hormones,climate, or evolutionary history in general. The problemwith such an explanation, however credible it may lookin a textbook to undergraduates, is that it does not explainwhat we actually observe in the world or what we our-selves experience. In our life as human beings, and in ourobservation of all kinds of living things, particularlyhigher animals, we experience ourselves or observe otherliving things acting in a self-determining manner. That is,we experience and observe the pursuit of purposes.Interestingly, contemporary environmental ethicists, if notmany biologists, have come to believe that purposes areimportant, even foundational, to environmental ethics.A fundamental premise of modern environmental ethicsis that living things in a natural environment have ends oftheir own, and these ends are not our ends.27 The psalmistperceived this when he wrote: The high mountains are forthe wild goats, the cliffs a refuge for the rock badgers(Ps. 104:18). In what sense are mountains for goats andcliffs for rock badgers? In exactly the same sense thatPelican Island, Americas first national wildlife refuge,is for pelicans. And President Theodore Roosevelt said so,designating the sanctuary, in the words of his executiveorder, as a preserve and breeding ground for nativebirds (emphasis mine).The goal of conservation is to enhancethe welfare of creatures for thepurpose of protecting their life, liberty,and interests, precisely because theirexistence is of value independent of ourbenefit from it.All of these places are for these creatures in the sensethat they permit them the freedom to pursue their owngood, their own ends. These ends, provisioned by God,and, in the United States, protected by federal law in par-ticular cases, are ends that can be frustrated by humans.Thus, other living creatures can be deprived, by us, ofthose things that serve their interests and purposes. There-fore, living things in natural environments can be treatedas moral subjects that merit ethical consideration becausethey have definable interests (i.e., purposes) that can befrustrated by human action. For conservation to be conser-vation, it must affirm that the purposes which nonhumancreatures pursue are, first, real, and second, that they aregood. That is, the purpose of their conservation is notthe satisfaction of human preference, and the value of aspecies existence is not based on the benefit that humansmight derive from it. Such premises have become statu-tory in the United States. The US Endangered Species Act(ESA) of 1973, for example, protects the existence of listedendangered species, as well as their habitat, regardless oftheir economic value and benefit. This amounts to assert-ing, as environmental historian Joseph Petulla put it,that a listed nonhuman resident of the United States isguaranteed, in a special sense, life and liberty.28 Petullasintellectual concept has become legal reality. In 1978 inPalila v. Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources,the palila (Psittirostra bailleui), a small, yellow-headed,stubby-billed native Hawaiian bird, was the listed plaintiffin a judicial hearing over its own conservation, ably repre-sented through lawyers retained by the Sierra Club andHawaiian Audubon Society.29 If we affirm the statute andthe rights it gives the palila and other species, we mustconclude that the goal of conservation it expresses is toenhance the welfare of these creatures for the purpose of pro-tecting their life, liberty, and interests, precisely because theirexistence is of value independent of our benefit from it.The ESA demands that humans behave altruisticallytoward other species, but legal coercion is not enough.To pursue and sustain such altruism in conservation, onemust have a rational foundation to support it. Is protectingspecies a virtue (because we ought to love and protect otherspecies)? Is protecting species an obligation to be discharged(then, to what or to whom do we owe this service)? Is pro-tecting species an act of preserving something intrinsicallyvaluable (then from what source is such value conferred)?Answers to any of these questions could lead to a compel-ling rationale to save species, but they receive relativelylittle attention in current professional conservation litera-ture. The failure to engage such questions effectivelyreveals the present confusion of modern conservation, andthe lack of answers, its moral ambivalence. In such deafen-ing ethical silence, the purpose of stewardship defaults tothe satisfaction of human preference. Such environmentalmorality leads to the perception of humans as usersof nature who interact with it by pursuing satisfactionfrom the services which nature provides. Sadly, but pre-dictably, many studies reveal that, as human users ofenvironmental entities grow more accustomed to environ-mental degradation, they can enjoy the services of suchentities with no loss of satisfaction.30Although modern environmental assessments, such asthe United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Assessment(MA), attempt to evaluate the actual condition of ecosys-tems and all possible and potential dimensions of valuethey contain, such assessments still categorize all entitieswithin the ecosystem as some form of service, integratedand related to the axiom of human well-being.31 SuchVolume 58, Number 1, March 2006 53Fred Van Dykedefinition and methodology reveal that in-creased analytical skill does not necessarilyalter fundamental philosophical perspectives.Even in our most sophisticated and globalassessments of the environment, preferencesatisfaction through using nature remainsa dominant concept.Preference-driven assessment creates theethical tragedy of, as Daly puts it, the reduc-tion of value to taste.32 If no better answercan be offered, then the public must be satis-fied with this one, and do the best it can tofigure out what its tastes in conservation are.But such an answer leaves the conservationenterprise with neither moral ideal normoral direction, without which it cannotendure. As the last thirty years have seenthe transformation of our cultures percep-tion of Christian stewardship in conserva-tion, future years must see Christians act astransforming agents in articulating a conser-vation purpose that creates a compellingmoral motive for action. We should beginwith the most fundamental question. Whatare Gods purposes for his created order?What Are GodsPurposes for Creation?Our first insight into Gods purposes for hiscreation are found early in his revelation tous. Be fruitful and multiply I suspectthat when you read these words, you areculturally conditioned to complete themwith the words of Gen. 1:28 and fill theEarth, and subdue it. But I am quoting froman earlier verse, Gen. 1:22. God blessed themsaying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill thewaters in the seas, and let birds multiply onthe Earth. Before the blessing of fruitfulnessis spoken to men and women, it is firstspoken to fish and birds, and its blessingextends to all of nonhuman life. And rightlyso, because God sees and admires what hehas made and calls it good (Gen. 1:125).Thus we understand that Gods first statedobjective in creation is to bless the life he hasmade that it may make more life. Therefore,we perceive the first purpose of steward-ship, to fill the world with good things, suchthat humans ought to support and, to theextent possible, aid the divine blessing byensuring that the world is full of the good,nonhuman life God has created, and whichhe intended to multiply on the Earth.A second purpose of stewardship can bediscovered in the book of Job. God says toJob regarding the monster Leviathan,The sword that reaches him cannotavail, nor the spear, the dart, or the jav-elin. He regards iron as straw, bronzeas rotten wood. The arrow cannotmake him flee, slingstones are turnedinto stubble for him Nothing onEarth is like him, one made withoutfear. He looks on everything that ishigh; He is king over all the sons ofpride (Job 41:2628, 3334).Job asked God for an explanation of hissuffering. God praised his creature, Levia-than. Did God miss the question? No. In hisanswer, God repeatedly hurls back the ques-tion, Where were you when I performedall my mighty acts of creation? Godscross-examination of Job takes him from animaginary world centered on Job to a realworld that is nota world that existed longbefore Job, that does not know Job, and thatis filled with magnificent creatures whichhave no regard for Job. As theologian OliverODonovan puts it:Job must learn not to think of natureonly in relation to his own wants, but tosee the irrelevance of those wants tothe vast universe of nature He hasno claim to a stable and well-balancedecosystem in the face of a nature sodiverse in its teleologies, so indifferentto human concerns.33But God rejoices in that world. He callsLeviathan and Behemoth the first of theways of God (Job 40:19). It is not becausethey satisfy user satisfaction, but becausethey do not. Indeed, they have no regard forhuman preferences and provide no humansatisfaction of any kind (Will you play withhim as a bird, or will you bind him for yourmaidens? Job 41:5). Instead they frustratehuman purpose. They humble the proudanthropocentrism of human culture.God cared deeply for Job, but his therapyfor Jobs sorrows began by forcing Job to seethe world differently. Leviathan and Behe-moth are not valuable because they satisfyrevealed human preferences. In fact, they dothe opposite. They frustrate human prefer-ence and thwart the human will to dominateand control all things for its own ends. Whenwe understand Gods pleasure in these crea-54 Perspectives on Science and Christian FaithArticleCultural Transformation and Conservation: Growth, Influence, andChallenges for the Judeo-Christian Stewardship Environmental EthicWe perceivethe firstpurpose ofstewardship,to fillthe worldwith goodthings, suchthat humansoughtto support and,to the extentpossible,aid the divineblessingby ensuringthat the worldis fullof the good,nonhuman lifeGod hascreated,and whichhe intendedto multiplyon the Earth.tures, and his revealed purposes for them, we also under-stand the second great purpose of stewardshipto adopta more humble view of ourselves in the greatness of Godscreation, and, enabled by this perspective, to share Godspleasure in the things he has made that are no use to us,as well as in all the things that sustain our life and health.If we were to press God with the question, why didyou make Leviathan? we would find an answer in thewords of Psalm 104. O Lord how many are your works!In wisdom you have made them all: the earth is full ofyour possessions. There is the sea great and broad, inwhich are swarms without number (just as God blessedthem to be), animals both small and great. There the shipsmove along, and Leviathan, which you have formed to sportin it (Ps. 104:2426). In other words, if we believe thetheology of the psalmist, the reason God made Leviathanwas so that Leviathan might enjoy himself in Godsocean. The same purpose for all creatures echoes throughthe psalm. The high mountains are for the wild goats, thecliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers They all wait foryou to give them their food in due season (Ps. 104:18, 27).Here is revealed a third purpose of stewardshiptoprotect and preserve the provision that God has made forthe individual and unique good of every creature.The Transformation of ValueIf Christians are to continue as transformative agents ofconservation culture, they must not only transform thepurpose of conservation, but also the value of what is con-served. I will not attempt to capture every possible way ofthinking about or categorizing environmental entities andvalues, much less the complexity of ethical systems thatsupport them. For example, in his pioneering work onhuman attitudes toward wildlife, Stephen Kellert identi-fied seven different categories of wildlife values (natu-ralistic, ecological, moral, scientific, aesthetic, utilitarian,and cultural) perceived by humans based on responses todetailed questionnaires about attitudes toward wildlife.34However, what Kellert referred to as categories ofvalues are actually categories of psychological response.That is, Kellerts categories are not categories of norms thatorganize ideas about what is right or wrong withrespect to the entity (in this case, wild animals), but rathercategories of reactions humans display or experience incontact with or in thinking about animals.Similarly, systemic approaches such as MillenniumEcosystem Assessment attempt to consider all values ofenvironmental entities at the ecosystem level to determinethe total value of an ecosystems goods and services forhuman welfare. Although commendably comprehensiveand technologically sophisticated, confusion results wheneconomists fail to understand that such methodology isdesigned for environmental assessment, not ethical analysis.All values are perceived as services that satisfyhuman needs. For example, spiritual and aestheticvalues of ecosystems, which are really recognitions byhumans of values imputed to environmental entities fromother sources, are categorized as cultural ecosystemservices. This orientation repeats the classic error ofconflating values and benefits.35 Benefits are things thatpromote (human) well-being and services are thingsthat contribute to the welfare of others. Values, in con-trast, are bases for an estimation of the worth, and mayhave little to do with a creatures contribution to humanwell-being or welfare. Systemic assessment methodologiesare unable to distinguish the difference between whatpeople value because of services it provides for them and whatpeople believe is valuable for moral and ethical reasons.36Thus, they cannot provide ethical categories regarding theenvironment. They are not to be faulted for this. Thatwould misunderstand their role as an assessment tool.But environmental assessment is not ethical assessment.We must begin the transformation of value in conservationwith a new set of tools.Categories of values [can be] organizedaround how [they] are affected by humanperception, how they are realized orappreciated by humans, and how theyultimately influence human decision-making and environmental management.Modern systems of environmental ethics address morethan value. Such systems attempt to determine correctenvironmental behavior by evaluating the consequencesof our actions (consequentialist ethics), the fulfillment ofmoral obligations or duties through actions that affirm anindependent truth or goodness (deontological ethics),the preservation of interdependent associations of speciesand their functions in their appropriate place (ecocentricethics), or the effect of our actions on our relationship tonature and our own moral development (relational selfand virtue-based ethics).37 But, with due respect to thenuance and complexity of multiple and various ethicalparadigms, the actual categories of values invoked insuch systems are often considerably simpler, especiallywhen organized around how such values are affected byhuman perception, how they are realized or appreciatedby humans, and how they ultimately influence humandecision-making and environmental management.Volume 58, Number 1, March 2006 55Fred Van DykeConsider a basic value trichotomy(Fig. 1). Environmental entities that satisfyour preferences and needs have instrumentalvalue, which we obtain by use or, in somecases, non-use. If non-use, we retain theirvalue by having the option of using themlater, or the possibility that such options mayexist, something ethicists and economistsrefer to as quasi-option value, a category thatis invoked every time you hear someone saywe must save the rainforests today becausetomorrow we may discover yet another plantcompound that we can use to treat humandisease. Humans value created things aes-thetically if they possess qualities that weadmire, appreciate, or enjoy. Small wonderthat the symbol for the World Wildlife Fundis a panda and not a flatworm. But humansvalue those things intrinsically that theyjudge to possess value in their own right,especially value that is conferred upon themfrom a transcendent source. Thus, this sim-ple trichotomy, although not providing norintending to provide a comprehensiveexamination of all possible ethical catego-ries, does offer a framework for identifyingfunctional value categories needed for thinkingabout environmental entities and the humanresponse to them. Identifying these catego-ries is useful in predicting the behavior ofenvironmental agencies toward the environ-ment, and in understanding the underlyingintent of many environmental laws.In the United States and elsewhere, envi-ronmental management agencies are guidedby long-held and historically reveredmissions, missions which hold a particularperspective on the value associated withmanaged environmental entities. Agencycultures grow up and develop around suchmissions, and agency behavior reflects anorganizational understanding of the missiontransmitted through agency culture andpractice. For example, if the value of envi-ronmental entities is viewed as instrumen-tal, then the purpose of conservation is tosatisfy human needs and preferences (well-being), and natural objects must be viewedas resources. Their value is realizedthrough their use, and the ideal manage-ment goal is maximum sustainable use inperpetuity.Following the maxim of their mostfamous director, Gifford Pinchot, whobelieved that natural resources should servethe greatest good for the greatest numberfor the longest time,38 the US Forest Servicecame to define its primary managementobjective as maximum sustainable yield forthe five core resources on US national for-ests, which are, as a Forest Service colleagueonce reminded me in his best Elmer Fuddvoice, wood, watuh, wange, wildwife, andwecweation. That the Forest Service hastended to historically emphasize wood, withits explicit markets and pricing, and under-emphasize wecweation, with its less well-defined valuations, is testimony to the powerof instrumental value to shape agencybehavior and management action.56 Perspectives on Science and Christian FaithArticleCultural Transformation and Conservation: Growth, Influence, andChallenges for the Judeo-Christian Stewardship Environmental EthicTo transformthe value ofwhat isconserved inthe culture ofconservation,Christiansmust affirmthat nature isto be treated asa moral subject.It is not to beperceivedsimply asa source ofecosystemservices, butas a creationof Godwhose rightsmust not bewithheldfrom it Implications of Environmental Value CategoriesInstrumentaln Natural objects are resources of goods and services forhuman well-beingn Value is realized through usen Management goal maximum sustainable use through harvestAestheticn Natural objects are loci of admirable qualities or traitsn Value is realized through perceptionn Management goal maximize aesthetic perception through education and trainingIntrinsicn Natural objects are good in their own rightn Value is realized through fulfilling moral obligationtoward objectn Management goal maximize well-being of object through provision andprotectionFig. 1. Some implications of different environmental value categories and their effects on perception,value realization, and management of environmental entities.In contrast, if natural objects are valued aesthetically,value is realized through perception, and the ideal man-agement goal is to maximize our perception of these quali-ties through interpretive education and training. The USNational Park Service was founded upon a Congressionalmandate to preserve the scenery of US national parks for theenjoyment of their visitors, a mission with a strong aestheticorientation targeted toward human appreciation. Whatkinds of people does the Park Service employ in this task?We call them rangers, but the Park Service calls theminterpreters and their job is to increase the appreciativeabilities of visitors to better apprehend the aesthetic quali-ties, and scientific processes, present in the parkslandscape.In contrast to instrumental and aesthetic values, intrin-sic value is realized not through human use, nor humanperception, but through human response, the fulfillment ofmoral obligation to the environmental entity. If intrinsicvalue drives management decision-making, then manage-ment actions aim to maximize the well-being andcontinuance of the entity through acts of provision andprotection. Today management agencies which were his-torically driven by instrumental values (the Forest Service)or aesthetic values (the National Park Service) are increas-ingly affected by legislative mandates, such as the ESA,or policy directives for ecosystem management, whichassume the intrinsic value of things like rare species orfunctional ecosystems. Such mandates are derivedthrough public debate and deliberation, not economicassessment, and more likely to support values held asnational or religious ideals, rather than as ecosystemgoods and services supplied for human welfare.One of the great questions of modern environmentalethics is: Are environmental entities morally consider-able?39 Viewed instrumentally and aesthetically, theanswer is no. If the environment is valued only in theseways, then it is an arena of ethical decision-making, but it cannever be an object of ethical concern. But in the Judeo-Chris-tian tradition, the nonhuman world is not only good,it is explicitly treated as a moral subject.Then God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying,Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, when youcome into the land which I shall give you, then theland shall have a Sabbath to the Lord. Six years youshall sow your field, and six years shall you pruneyour vineyard and gather its crop, but during theseventh year, the land shall have a Sabbath rest, aSabbath to the Lord (Lev. 25:14).Note the structure of the sentence. God does not say,The sons of Israel are to cease from cultivating the landevery seventh year. Rather, what God says is The landshall have In Gods view, the land is not the object ofthe Sabbath, it is the subject of the Sabbath, and it is primar-ily the land, not the people, which receives this rest fromGod. Thus, God treats the land as a moral subject and theSabbath as its legal right, from which it is to receive duebenefit. This view that God treats the nonhuman worldwith moral consideration is manifested in the history ofGods dealings with Israel. Second Chronicles 36 closes thebook on the story of the kingdom of Judah, ending withthese words:Those who had escaped from the sword he(Nebuchadnezzar) carried away to Babylon, andthey were servants to him and to his sons until therule of the kingdom of Persia to fulfill the word of theLord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyedits Sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept Sabbathuntil seventy years were complete (2 Chron. 36:2021,emphasis mine).In Judeo-Christian tradition, environmental valuesmatter. When the land was deprived of its right to Sab-bath, God restored its Sabbaths by direct intervention. Thepeople who failed to give the land its rest were deported,and did not return until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. Totransform the value of what is conserved in the culture ofconservation, Christians must affirm that nature is to betreated as a moral subject. It is not to be perceived simplyas a source of ecosystem services, but as a creation ofGod whose rights must not be withheld from it, a viewthat is derived from the intrinsic value that God bestowedupon it when he called it good, manifested when he pro-vided it with rest, protected it under his law, and punishedits abusers with deportation.Environmental Stewardship asReconciliationFinally, and perhaps most importantly, Christians in con-servation work toward the transformation of the humanpresence, and thus must engage the final, and perhaps mostsignificant question: What gives human beings the right tobe the environmental managers of creation and the agents of itsconservation? At first glance, the question might seem silly.If human beings do not act as agents of conservation, whatother species would? As Aldo Leopold noted in his eulogyto the last passenger pigeon: Had the funeral been ours,the pigeons would have hardly mourned us. In this fact lies objective evidence of our superiority over beasts.40Today many assert that humans have no such superiority,and no right at all to manage other species. From thisperspective, humanity is viewed, in the words of conser-vationist Max Nicholson, as earths worst pest,41 andone the world would be better off without. It is a viewmanifested in groups like EarthFirst, which claim thereshould be no management at all.If Homo sapiens is but one of the millions of species-specific products of natural selection, such objection isjustified. Humans could make no special claim to man-age other species, nor bear any obligation for theirwelfare. Indeed, natural selection directs us to further noVolume 58, Number 1, March 2006 57Fred Van Dykeends but our ends, no genes but our genes,no progeny but our progeny. Yet, as humanbeings, we seem surprisingly disinclined tofollow natural selections guidance. We tryto put beached whales back in the ocean,clean up oiled sea otters, and mend injuriesto wounded wildlife. We see animals introuble on the evening news and are movedwith pity. We think that someone shouldhelp them. Why should humans displaysuch irrational feelings and behaviors?What strange, non-adaptive combination ofcompassion and obligation toward otherspecies comes so naturally to us?The Lord God planted a garden towardthe east, in Eden, and there he placedthe man whom he had formed Thenthe Lord God took the man and puthim into the Garden of Eden to culti-vate it and to keep it (Gen. 2:8, 15).The verbs rendered in this verse as culti-vate and keep are, in most other passages,translated as serve and protect.42 Theyare usually encountered in Scripture asexpressions describing service to God, espe-cially as vocation, not as agricultural tasks,and are almost always used in sentenceswhere the subject is a priest or a priestly func-tionary.43 To the original audience who readthe words of Gen. 2:15, they, being culturallyinformed, would understand that, in Eden,God had created a sacred space andinstalled the man as its priest.As Old Testament scholar John Waltonhas noted, in these ancient cultures, a priestcharged with the care of a sacred space hadthree primary duties. First, he was to see thatthe sacred space was kept pure, not defiledor polluted in any way, physically or spiritu-ally. Second, he was to establish, within thatspace, a regular and frequent pattern of wor-ship. Third, he was to monitor the needs ofthe inhabitants of the sacred space, to ensurethat, while they continued in his care, theywould lack nothing needful.44 Thus, thehuman presence begins its career on Earth asa presence of priestly service to the world.A correct understanding of Gen. 2:15 notonly brings clarity to the nature of humanobligation, but also reveals, in a way thatsecular environmental philosophies cannot,to whom the obligation is discharged. Thecitizens of the sacred space benefit from ourservice and protection, but our work is anoffering to God, not to them.The sacred space of Eden was destroyedby human sin. As a result, our current situa-tion is changed. Both human and non-human creation stand in need of reconcilia-tion to God. Paul tells us that this is areconciliation God is determined to achieve.For by him all things were created,both in the heavens and on Earth, visi-ble and invisible all things havebeen created through him and for him.He is before all things, and in him allthings hold together For it was theFathers good pleasure for all the full-ness to dwell in him and through himto reconcile all things to himself havingmade peace through the blood of hiscross (Col. 1:1617, 1920).Pauls Colossian doxology describes thecosmic nature and consequences of Christslordship, common themes throughoutPauls epistles (Rom. 5:1221, Rom. 8:1923,1 Cor. 8:6, Eph. 1:1823, Phil. 2:611).45 Whatthe Colossian doxology makes more explicitthan other texts is that the reconciliationachieved through the death and resurrectionof Christ affects every created thing. Therecurring Greek phrase ta panta, translatedin English as all things, remains the samethroughout the doxology. Thus, Paul asserts,first, that Jesus Christ created ta panta(Col. 1:16). Second, Jesus Christ sustains tapanta (or, in more literal Greek, in him allthings consisted Col. 1:17). Third, the ta pantathat Jesus created and sustains are the verysame ta panta that he reconciles through theblood of his cross (Col. 1:20).Christians have shown a historic tendencyto separate the doctrines of creation andredemption. Paul links them by making Christthe agent of both. Evangelical theology, inparticular, has tended to describe the effectsof the atonement in personal terms thatachieve reconciliation between God andhuman beings. Paul describes the atone-ments effects in cosmic terms that achievereconciliation between God and the entirecreated order. He elevates it to being themeans through which Christ redeems thecosmos that he has created.46To understand this view of atonement,we must appreciate that nonhuman creation,like its human counterpart, also shares theneed of redemption, although perhaps ina more derivative way, from the curses,58 Perspectives on Science and Christian FaithArticleCultural Transformation and Conservation: Growth, Influence, andChallenges for the Judeo-Christian Stewardship Environmental EthicThe humanpresencebeginsits careeron Earthas a presenceof priestlyservice tothe world. The citizensof the sacredspacebenefitfrom ourservice andprotection,but our workisan offeringto God,not to them.sorrow, and frustration to which it is subjected because ofhuman sinfulness (Gen. 3:17, Hos. 4:13, Rom. 8:1822).Pauls word to the Colossians restates this truth in Christo-centric terms. Jesus Christ created all things, Jesus Christsustains all things. And the same things, the same ta panta,that Jesus Christ created and sustains are the very sameall things that he reconciles to himself through his blood,shed on the cross. This reconciliation is not somethingthat happens naturally, or something that necessarilyevolves out of the creations own intrinsic properties.Paul is referring to a historic, space-time intervention byGod into the world, precisely to save it from the path it wasnaturally following. Likewise, we must understand thatthere is an interventionist dimension of genuine steward-ship when it is properly understood as a ministry of recon-ciliation, not merely a program of preservation.The Future of ChristianEnvironmental StewardshipAlthough a variety of ethical positions vie for attention onmatters of the environment,47 it is the ethics of ecocen-trism, the view that environmental value resides in theintegrity and function of natural communities and ecosys-tems, that today dominates modern scientific conservationbiology, while, at the level of environmental activism andpopular support, the Judeo-Christian environmental stew-ardship ethic is increasingly emerging as its primaryethical rival.48 In the conservation ethic of ecocentrism,value lies in the whole and its functions. It follows thatthe purpose of stewardship is to preserve the integrity andstability of the natural world by removing those humaneffects which separate and disintegrate natural communi-ties. Thus follows the moral maxim of Aldo LeopoldsLand Ethic, a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integ-rity, beauty, and harmony of the biotic community. It is wrongwhen it tends otherwise.49 In management and conservation,an ecocentric approach focuses on the state of the commu-nity or ecosystem, and attempts to achieve a desired stateof function through various combinations of management,regulation, and education.In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the purpose of stew-ardship is to reconcile the human and nonhuman creationon Earth to a productive, beneficent, and loving relation-ship with God and with one another (Fig. 2). God inhuman flesh is the agent of that reconciliation, and thosehumans who are his disciples are to work with him tobring it about. In that day I will make a covenant for them withthe beasts of the field, the birds of the sky, and the creeping thingsof the ground, and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and warfrom the land and will make them lie down in safetyThen youwill know the Lord (Hos. 2:18, 20). Such an approach,although concerned with the state of natural systems andtheir components, perceives the fundamental problemvery differently than ecocentrism. Here, the problem to besolved is fundamental antagonism between the humancommunity and the natural creation, an antagonism thatis rooted, in humans, in a hostile relationship toward Godand his intentions for both the human and nonhumanworld. Further, although both human and nonhumancreation are loved and valued by God, humans are consid-ered more valuable (Matt. 6:26), and their reconciliationmust come first, because the reconciliation of nonhumannature depends upon it (Hos. 2:1823, Rom. 8:1922).The importance of the reconciliation concept, asexpressed theologically in Pauls Colossian doxology,helps to explain the sensitivity to the human communitythat is manifest in many examples of Christian environ-mental stewardship, but is often absent in ecocentricapproaches. Perhaps no example displays that contrastmore clearly than the work of environmental conflict reso-lution by Susan Drake Emmerich, former US Departmentof State Delegate to the United Nations EnvironmentalProgramme. In her doctoral research, Emmerich examinedthe role of faith-based approaches to environmentalconflict resolution in a community of commercial fishers(watermen) on Chesapeake Bays Tangier Island, many ofwhom were evangelical Christians.50 Here, in the late1980s and early 1990s, conflicts between conservationists,especially between the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF),a regional conservation NGO, and watermen had reachedan impasse. CBF had followed the traditional conservationapproaches of combining more environmental educationwith advocacy for more restrictive harvest regulations.Far from solving the problem, this strategy escalated theconflict beyond verbal disagreement to acts of propertydamage, arson, and death threats.Volume 58, Number 1, March 2006 59Fred Van DykeSome Comparisons of Ecocentrism and Judeo-Christian StewardshipEthical System Fundamental Task to Be Accomplished/Problem to Be SolvedEcocentrism Preserve functional and compositional integrity of ecosystems (the land)because functional ecosystems are goodJudeo-Christian Stewardship Original task: Manifest Gods will and care to created order through humanaction because God is goodContemporary problem: Reconcile human and nonhuman creation to Godbecause God is goodFig. 2. Some comparisons of the fundamental tasks of stewardship as perceived by ecocentrism and Judeo-Christian stewardship.Emmerich began her efforts on TangierIsland by recognizing the legitimacy of localchurches as the primary decision-makinginstitutions of the Tangier community, anapproach CBF had never considered. Shealso began by centering her concerns on thehuman community rather than the catchspecies. Emmerich came to realize that thewatermens first concern was the threat totheir existing way of life, a threat they per-ceived to originate from restrictive harvestregulations and insensitive conservation orga-nizations like CBF.51 The lack of cooperationand outright hostility watermen displayedtoward environmental regulations and theenvironmental ethic advanced by govern-ment agencies and the CBF was a reflectionof their view that these entities had no regardfor their way of life, a way of life whichwatermen wanted to preserve.Working and speaking in the churches toestablish a faith-based environmental ethic,Emmerichs efforts led to the developmentof the Watermans Covenant, a pledgewritten by watermen binding its signers torespect conservation laws as an expressionof obedience to biblical commands and prin-ciples of stewardship. The Covenant was notthe product of long committee meetings andpublic debates. It arose out of a spontaneousresponse by watermen resulting from a newawareness of their sins against God and hiscreation. Explaining her firsthand experienceat a local church service, Emmerich said:I preached on biblical environmentalstewardship and loving ones neighbor.At that service, fifty-eight watermenbowed down in tears and asked God toforgive them for breaking fishery laws.They then committed themselves to aStewardship Covenant Watermenin their seventies and eighties, an agewhen habits tend to be fixed, beganbringing their rubbish back to theisland, rather than dumping every-thing overboard. Many apologized tofellow-Tangiermen working for theChesapeake Bay Foundation, for theiranimosity over the years. Individualsspoke emotionally in church of theirconviction of sin after throwing metalcans overboard or taking undersizedcrabs. Government officials, scientists,and environmentalists, all of whomhad experienced difficulty in institut-ing change of any sort, have beenstunned by the dramatic change in thepeople of Tangier.52Acting from the same theological insightsas Emmerich, A Rochas emphasis on devel-oping embedded indigenous conservationefforts among local (usually poor) commu-nities and the Zahniser Institutes stress onservice to local community and governmentare manifestations of this same theologicalunderstanding. The Christian conviction thatboth humanity and nature are objects of Godsredemptive plan and purpose (Rom. 8:1822)generates conservation strategies inclusiveof human need. Such approaches perceivethe fundamental conservation problem to bean estrangement between God, humanity,and nature, and the solution to be one thatreconciles human beings to their naturalsurroundings, not one that merely supplieseducation or regulatory constraint.This understanding of stewardship incor-porates some of the perspectives of theemerging science of restoration ecology, atleast in redefining the human role towardnature. Pioneer restorationist W. R. Jordan,when speaking of human use of prescribedfire to restore tallgrass prairie, explained:The need of the prairie for fire demon-strates its dependence on us, and soliberates us from our position as natu-ralists or observers of the communityinto a role of real citizenship.53Restoration is an important and tangibleside, the human-nature side, of understand-ing and practicing stewardship as a ministryof reconciliation. In restoration, we are notto view nature as something that must beprotected and preserved from human pres-ence, but something which has been createdto benefit from constructive human careand, at times, intervention. As environ-mental philosopher Fredrick Turner said:Potentially, at least, human civilization canbe the restorer, propagator, and even creatorof natural diversity, as well as its protectorand preserver.54Although Turner and Jordan speak ina secular context, their words capture aportion of the truth required for a correctunderstanding of Christian environmentalstewardship as a ministry of reconciliation.The restorationists also reveal the fallaciesinherent in animism, or in any other alterna-tives that produce the enchantment (or, in60 Perspectives on Science and Christian FaithArticleCultural Transformation and Conservation: Growth, Influence, andChallenges for the Judeo-Christian Stewardship Environmental EthicThe Christianconviction thatboth humanityand nature areobjects of Godsredemptive planand purpose(Rom. 8:1822)generatesconservationstrategiesinclusive ofhuman need.Such approachesperceive thefundamentalconservationproblem to bean estrangementbetween God,humanity, andnature, and thesolution to beone thatreconcileshuman beingsto their naturalsurroundings modern culture, the re-enchantment) of nature. As ThomasSieger Derr notes: When nature was considered sacred,it was as much feared as loved. Biblical thought removesthe fear while leaving the love intact.55 Thus, the task ofstewardship is not to re-enchant nature, to placate imag-inary spirits present in real created things, nor is it to pre-serve some particular state of nature. Stewardship is aninterventionist vocation. It cannot be otherwise. We darenot commit the fallacy, which is both scientific and ethical,that nature is always right in whatever condition wefind it. Nevertheless, we approach the required interven-tions of stewardship with humility, seeking to determinethe pattern that such intervention should take, the way inwhich humans should be involved in it, and the properend it should serve. Understanding the particulars ofintervention in specific time-place contexts requires dili-gent scientific study and technical skill, but, as a ministryof reconciliation, it is guided by the determination to worktoward Gods revealed purposes for nature, which areredemption (Rom. 8:1822), reconciliation (Col. 1:1520),and restoration (Rev. 21:14).Humans have not only physical needs, but moral ones,and their moral capacities and potentials are not devel-oped simply by receiving the material benefits of steward-ship that manifest themselves as healthy air, clean water,and abundant food. Vital as these are, it is the actual actsand processes of being a steward that shape human char-acter to become more like the Lord they serve. BecauseGod is interested not only in the outcomes of stewardship,but also in the moral development of the stewards whoperform this work, modern Christian environmental eth-ics also has rightly begun to recognize the importance ofvirtue-based ethics in conservation. Our ability to serveand protect the creation, and to achieve Gods intendedreconciliation and redemption for it, is not only a matter ofscientific and technical expertise, or even solely a matter ofunderstanding our duties and obligations, important asthey are. It is also an expression of the kind of people weare to be and become.Bouma-Prediger, in his classic paper, Creation Careand Character: The Nature and Necessity of EcologicalVirtues develops seven virtue couplets of stewardshipbased on biblical motifs that reveal the nature of the cre-ated order and our intended relationship to it. These eco-logical virtues are respect and receptivity, self restraintand frugality, humility and honesty, wisdom and hope,patience and serenity, benevolence and love, and justiceand courage.56 Although economist Christopher Barretthas noted that social norms often sustain such ecologicalvirtues in many societies,57 it takes more than social normsto produce them, and the kind of moral choices and char-acter required for genuine environmental stewardship ismore likely to lead one to become the object of social andprofessional censure rather than the recipient of endorse-ment and reward.58 To persist in practice, such virtuesmust be ultimately supported by transcendent value andauthority that is more than accepted social behavior. Thenecessity of appropriate virtue-centered orientation inunderstanding stewardship as a ministry of reconciliationstems from the reality of that transcendent source, andfrom the knowledge that the creation, for all its beauty,complexity, and self-renewing capacities, is not its ownsteward. Humans are its steward. And because they mustreflect the image of God to the created order in their ruleand will, human virtue matters.The necessity of appropriate virtue-centered orientation in understandingstewardship as a ministry of recon-ciliation stems from the reality of thattranscendent source, and from theknowledge that the creation is not itsown steward. Humans are its steward.And because they must reflect the imageof God to the created order in their ruleand will, human virtue matters.Lynn White, Jr. called Christianity the most anthropo-centric religion the world has ever seen.59 In anunintended way he was right, for God chose to achievereconciliation through incarnation. He determined that thereconciling agent would bear human form and flesh, andthat the humans who followed in his ministry would cometo bear his likeness. If the historical roots of our ecologiccrisis are anthropocentric, its future solution is even moreso. The human presence is essential to the purpose of stew-ardship, not only as a loving caretaker carrying out thewill of God to and for the creation that he loves, but as animage-bearer of Christ, active in the work of reconciling afallen world to God in preparation for its final restorationand, in that work, becoming conformed to the image ofChrist. The acts of stewardship have eternal significancewhen they are united to the ultimate purposes of God forhis creation. They are not simply what we have to do,and being stewards is not simply what we merely becomeas part of a natural process of our social evolution. Actsof stewardship are acts of moral significance because theyVolume 58, Number 1, March 2006 61Fred Van Dykeare acts that fulfill moral obligations towardthe intrinsic value of what God has created.By such fulfillment, our character is shapedand changed as we also shape and changethe Earth toward the ends God has in view.This mutual and simultaneous reshaping ofhumanity and nature toward the plan andpurpose of God is the ultimate environmen-tal transformation.In a single generation, Christians havechanged the perception of the Judeo-Chris-tian tradition in conservation from being thecause of the ecologic crisis to a solution to it.Now, to complete what has begun, Chris-tians must transform the value of what isconserved, from what is of instrumentalvalue to us to what is of intrinsic value toGod. Further, Christians must transform thepresence of the human species from being acancer on creation to being a priest of Godssacred space. And, finally, Christians musttransform the purpose of conservation fromthe satisfaction of preference, or even thepreservation of environmental systems, tothe reconciliation of human and nonhumancreation to God.The task of stewardship, in Judeo-Christian understanding, is not to restore orpreserve some particular state of nature.It is rather to work with God as cooperatorsin his purposes for nature, which are thepurposes of redemption (Rom. 8:1822),reconciliation (Col. 1:1520), and restoration(Rev. 21:14). Let our efforts be directed tofurther these ends, and thus transform con-servations culture to affirm the purposesthat bring dignity, coherence, and signifi-cance to its work. AcknowledgmentsI thank Virginia Vroblesky, A Rocha USA,for inviting and stimulating me to developthese ideas and present them at the FirstA Rocha USA Conference, Faith, Commu-nity, and Conservation, (25 September 2004,Annapolis, Maryland), and Laurel Sprenger,who encouraged me to arrange them as apaper. E. David Cook and David Fletcher,Wheaton College (Illinois), and Michael Davis,Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago)provided helpful interaction and commenton ideas in this manuscript. Gene Green andDaniel Treier, Wheaton College, improvedmy theological methods and exegetical skillsthrough the instruction I received in theircourses that I was privileged to take in thefall semester of 2004. Roman J. Miller andthree anonymous reviewers provided sug-gestions on the submitted version of themanuscript.Notes1J. Baird Callicott, Conservation Values and Ethics,in Principles of Conservation Biology, 2d ed., eds.G. K. Meffe and C. R. Carroll (Sunderland, MA:Sinauer Associates, 1994), 2449, 36.2Lynn White, Jr., The Historical Roots of OurEcologic Crisis, Science 155 (1967): 12037, 1205.3Ibid., 1207.4Ibid., 1205.5B. J. McCay and S. Jentoft, Market or CommunityFailure? Critical Perspectives on Common PropertyResearch, Human Organization 57 (1998): 219.6J. OConnor, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism: ATheoretical Introduction, Capitalism, Nature,Socialism 1 (1988): 1138.7Elspeth Whitney, Lynn White, Ecotheology, andHistory, Environmental Ethics 15 (1993): 15169.8Thomas S. Derr, Religions Responsibility for theEcological Crisis: An Argument Run Amok,Worldview 18 (1975): 3945.9Ibid, 40. For some noteworthy examples cited byDerr, see Ian McHarg, Design With Nature (GardenCity, NY: Natural History Press, 1969); PaulEhrlich and Richard L. Harriman, How to Be aSurvivor (New York: Ballantine, 1971).10For example, Robert B. Fowler provides a lengthyexamination of both Christian and secular critics ofChristianity on environmental matters in his chap-ter on The Argument Over Christianity, (5875)in his book The Greening of Protestant Thought(Chapel Hill, NC: University of North CarolinaPress, 1995), but Fowler fails to note the signifi-cance of the fact that all his sources are post-White, and many explicitly draw upon Whitesessay as a basis for their own attacks.11Max Oelschlaeger, Caring for Creation: An Ecumeni-cal Approach to the Environmental Crisis (NewHaven, CT: Yale University Press, 1996), 1.12Ibid, 5.13Carl Pope, Reaching Beyond Ourselves: Its Timeto Recognize Our Allies in the Faith Community,Sierra Magazine 83 (November/December 1998):1415, 14.14Ibid.15Some of the best early responses include Francis A.Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man (Wheaton,IL: Tyndale House, 1969); Richard T. Wright,Responsibility for the Ecologic Crisis, BioScience20 (1970): 8513; Joseph Sittler, Essays on Nature andGrace (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1972); PaulosGregorios, The Human Presence: An Orthodox Viewof Nature (Geneva: World Council of Churches,1978); Loren Wilkinson, ed., Earthkeeping: ChristianStewardship of Natural Resources (Grand Rapids, MI:Eerdmans, 1980). A comprehensive bibliographyof hundreds of scholarly sources defending andarticulating a positive understanding of Judeo-Christian environmental stewardship has beenprepared by Joseph K. Sheldon in Rediscovery ofCreation: A Bibliographic Study of the Churchs62 Perspectives on Science and Christian FaithArticleCultural Transformation and Conservation: Growth, Influence, andChallenges for the Judeo-Christian Stewardship Environmental EthicActs ofstewardship areacts of moralsignificancebecause theyare acts thatfulfill moralobligationstoward theintrinsic valueof what Godhas created.By suchfulfillment,our characteris shaped andchanged as wealso shape andchange theEarth towardthe ends Godhas in view.This is theultimateenvironmentaltransformation.Response to the Environmental Crisis (Metuchen, NJ: American Theo-logical Library Association and Scarecrow Press, 1992).16Peter Harris, Under the Bright Wings (Vancouver: Regent CollegePublishing, 1993).17One example of this cooperation describing the research and man-agement involved can found in Fred Van Dyke, Sarah E. Van Kley,Christy E. Page, and Jodi G. Van Beek, Restoration Efforts forPlant and Bird Communities in Tallgrass Prairies Using PrescribedBurning and Mowing, Restoration Ecology 12 (2004): 57585.18A prairie restoration on lands owned by Northwestern Collegewas funded by the Natural Resource Conservation Service Conser-vation Reserve Program in Sioux County, Iowa, beginning in 2000,and is described in Fred Van Dyke, Conservation Biology: Founda-tions, Concepts, Applications (Boston, MA: McGraw Hill, 2003), 319.19Calvin B. DeWitt, Caring for Creation: Responsible Stewardship ofGods Handiwork (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1998), 223.20Herman Daly, The Lurking Inconsistency, Conservation Biology13 (1999): 6934.21Michael S. Northcutt, The Environment and Christian Ethics (NewYork: Cambridge University Press, 1996).22Richard Carson, Nicholas E. Flores, and W. Michael Hanneman,Sequencing and Valuing Public Goods, Journal of EnvironmentalEconomics and Management 36 (1998): 31423.23Mark Sagoff, Environmental Economics and the Conflation ofValue and Benefit, Environmental Science and Technology 34 (2000):142632, 1430.24Dennis Murphy, Conservation Biology and the ScientificMethod, Conservation Biology 4 (1990): 2034.25E. O. Wilson, Biophilia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,1984).26Daly, The Lurking Inconsistency.27For two of the best explanations of this premise, see HolmesRolston III, Philosophy Gone Wild: Essays in Environmental Ethics(Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1986); Roderick Nash, The Rightsof Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics (Madison, WI: Univer-sity of Wisconsin Press, 1989).28Joseph M. Petulla, American Environmental History (San Francisco:Boyd and Fraser, 1977).29Nash, 177.30Daniel L. Dustin and Leo H. McAvoy, The Decline and Fall ofQuality Recreational Opportunities and Environments, Environ-mental Ethics 4 (1982): 4855.31Joseph Alcamo and others, Ecosystems and Human Well-being:A Framework for Assessment (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2003).32Daly, The Lurking Inconsistency 694.33Oliver M. T. ODonovan, Where Were You ? in The Care of Cre-ation: Focusing Concern and Action, ed. R. J. Berry (Downers Grove,IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 903, 90.34Stephen R. Kellert, Social and Perceptual Factors in the Preserva-tion of Animal Species, in The Preservation of Species: The Value ofBiological Diversity, ed. Bryan G. Norton (Princeton, NJ: PrincetonUniversity Press, 1986), 5073.35Sagoff, Environmental Economics and the Conflation of Valueand Benefit.36Ibid.37Northcutt, The Environment and Christian Ethics.38J. Baird Callicott, Whither Conservation Ethics? ConservationBiology 4 (1990): 1520.39Although framing the query in their own unique styles, this is theprimary organizing question of Leopold, Nash, and Rolston,among others.40Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 117.41Max Nicholson, The Environmental Revolution (London: Hodderand Stoughton, 1970), 264.42For more detailed studies of translation and context, see Fred VanDyke, David C. Mahan, Joseph K. Sheldon, and Raymond H.Brand, Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis for Environmental Stew-ardship (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 96; StevenBouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision forCreation Care (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 74;John H. Walton, Genesis: The NIV Application Commentary (GrandRapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 1724.43Walton, Genesis, 1723.44Ibid., 196.45B. Gibbs, Pauline Cosmic Christology and Ecological Crisis,Journal of Biblical Literature 90 (1971): 46679; Colin Gunton,Atonement and the Project of Creation: An Interpretation ofColossians 1:1523, Dialog 35 (1996): 3541.46Gunton, Atonement and the Project of Creation.47Bryan G. Norton, Toward Unity Among Environmentalists.48Van Dyke, Conservation Biology, 656.49Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 262.50Susan D. Emmerich, Faith-based Stewardship and Resolution ofEnvironmental Conflict: An Ethnography of an Action ResearchCase of Tangier Island Watermen in the Chesapeake Bay (Ph.D.diss., University of Wisconsin, 2003).51Susan D. Emmerich, The Declaration in Practice: MissionaryEarth-keeping. in The Care of Creation: Focusing Concern and Action,ed. R. J. Berry (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 14754.52Emmerich, The Declaration in Practice, 151.53William R. Jordan III, Sunflower Forest: Ecological Restorationas the Basis for a New Environmental Paradigm, in Beyond Preser-vation: Restoring and Inventing Landscapes, ed. A. D. Baldwin, J. DeLuce, and C. Pletsch (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,1993), 1734.54Fredrick Turner, The Invented Landscape, in Beyond Preserva-tion: Restoring and Inventing Landscapes, 3566.55Thomas S. Derr, Ecology and Human Liberation: A Theological Cri-tique of the Use and Abuse of Our Birthright (Geneva: WSCF Books,1973), 43.56Steven Bouma-Prediger, Creation Care and Character: The Natureand Necessity of Ecological Virtues, Perspectives on Science andChristian Faith 50 (1998): 621.57Christopher R. Barrett, Markets, Social Norms, and Govern-ments in the Service of Environmentally Sustainable EconomicDevelopment: The Pluralistic Stewardship Approach, ChristianScholars Review 29 (2000): 43554.58Fred Van Dyke, Ethics and Management on US Public Lands:Connections, Conflicts, and Crises, Evangelical Review of Theology17 (1993): 24156.59White, The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis, 1205.Volume 58, Number 1, March 2006 63Fred Van DykeASA Annual MeetingCalvin CollegeGrand Rapids, MI 49546July 2831, 2006Embedding Christian Values inScience and TechnologyPLENARY SPEAKERS:Celia Deane-Drummond, University College ChesterVernon J. Ehlers, U.S. House of RepresentativesRudolf Jaenisch, Whitehead Institute, MITKaren Lebacqz, Yale University InterdisciplinaryCenter for BioethicsDifferent aspects of the conference theme will beaddressed by the four plenary speakers and will be thefocus of seven symposia. For full details on conferenceplans with updates as they develop,


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