Friday, June 1, 2012

Thinking About Tomorrow I

Christian belief conceives of time as linear. There is a beginning and there is an end. How one looks at the ending depends greatly where one is located under the sacred canopy of Christianity. These beliefs may have significant impacts on the conservation and preservation of biodiversity.  In terms of Christian eschatology, it is the ending, or actually the period of time just before the ending that most concerns us when we think of human responsibility for caring for Earth and life on Earth. How one perceives the end of history and when one perceives that happening, is where the concern lies when this aspect of theology intersects with issues relating to ecosystem health and the conservation and perpetuation of biodiversity.
There are about 77 million fundamentalist Christians (biblical literalists) in the United States. Between 20 million and 30 million adult Americans follow dispensational theologies, while a much smaller number of Dispensationalists are in the Reconstructionist (or Dominionist) camp. While the dispensationalist might be willing to wait for the Apocalypse, Rapture and other projected End Times events, the Reconstructionists are motivated by theologies that require that they prepare the way for the return of the Christ. These adherents are socially, culturally, and politically active and influential in the development and application of current US government policy and laws.
When encountering Christianity, conservation biology and efforts to preserve habitat and biodiversity do not usually find themselves in conflict. However, the more ‘fundamental’ the adherent the more likely one is to stress apocalypse and eschaton in one’s beliefs. And it is here that we run into conflict.
While there are millions of evangelical Christians who are active in their concern for earth care, millions more, especially in the fundamentalist camps, actively oppose such support.  According to many of them, humanity is approaching the End Time, God’s end game. The core of this theology is a subset of Dispensational theology often referred to as Christian Reconstructionism. 
(Continued in the next post.)
(For a fully referenced version of these thoughts go to and scroll down until Interdisciplinary Institute appears on the left and click.)