Across the Aisle: Environmentalism

16:18 Podcast – #9 Across the Aisle: Environmentalism

In today’s episode we will be looking at the topic of environmentalism. What does the secular world say about our place in this world, what does the Bible say, and how can we reach “Across the Aisle” to evangelize on this issue?

Defining our terms: Ecocentrism vs. Anthropocentrism

Environmentalism can be defined as “a general term to refer to concern for the environment and particularly actions or advocacy to limit negative human impacts on the environment.”1 I am quoting the International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, and it goes on to say:

Contemporary environmentalism is associated with a range of social and political movements that have emerged to promote particular environmental philosophies and practices. There have been numerous attempts to classify these activities with most adopting a dualistic strategy contrasting those who are concerned to protect the environment for its own sake (ecocentrism) and those who are concerned with the environment because of its role in human development (anthropocentrism).2

In general, these two categories, ecocentrism and anthropocentrism, are the leading philosophies behind environmentalism today.


Ecocentrism, as briefly defined above, is the view that we must protect the earth for the earth’s sake. In other words, the earth has inherent moral value and must be protected from irreparable harm.3 On the surface, that might sound like a great thing, but what is driving this ideology? The underlying factor, here, is that the humans are no more important than the earth on which they live. What is the irreparable harm from which the earth needs protection? Mainly, us. The Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere, or MAHB, an initiative of Stanford University, has an article called “Why ecocentrism is the key pathway to sustainability.” In it, the authors state:

Ecocentrism goes beyond biocentrism (ethics that sees inherent value to all living things) by including environmental systems as wholes, and their abiotic aspects. It also goes beyond zoocentrism (seeing value in animals) on account of explicitly including flora and the ecological contexts for organisms. Ecocentrism is thus the umbrella that includes biocentrism and zoocentrism, because all three of these worldviews value the nonhuman, with ecocentrism having the widest vision.4 Just look at that last phrase: “…all three of these worldviews value the nonhuman!” That’s extraordinary honesty when it comes to the place of humans in this world.

Worldview Implications of Ecocentrism

If humans are simply a more advanced species, more evolved than their ecological counterparts, then the only thing that makes them “more important” than any other life on earth is the fact that they progressed sooner. If divergent evolution is true, then other species will eventually evolve that also have the same mental, verbal, emotional, and societal capacities that humans possess. Therefore, if the human race is just an advanced species, then they are no more important than any other life on earth, nor are they more important than the earth itself which provided for them the means for their evolution.

How does this play out? It comes down to the necessary belief that if it comes down to the humans or the earth, the earth must take priority. At some points, this can take the form of protests against development, an emphasis upon lowering carbon emissions, and the push for better sources of energy, but on an extreme level this can lead to euthanasia and infanticide. How so? Because if humans are taking the earth’s energy and resources, but are failing or unable to contribute to the betterment of the earth, then it is better for those humans to be eradicated. If we are just an advanced species, then it is just a sacrifice that must be made in order to preserve the earth.


Anthropocentrism does hold that human beings are the most important species, but its view on the earth and our responsibility towards that earth is lacking. To define by distinction, the ecocentric worldview holds that all life is equally important and so inanimate life is just as important as human life, but the anthropocentric worldview holds that human life is the most important and the rest of the earth is just a tool or resource for the human.

Worldview Implications of Anthropocentrism

How does this play out in the world, then? Well, it can easily lead to humans acting without care. Whether that is unbridled pollution, needless destruction, or just negligence, if people have the worldview that they are the only thing that matters and that the earth is just a tool for them, then it doesn’t matter what they do to it. At this point, the only reason not to just throw your trash out on the ground or even think about recycling is the social ramifications.

Putting it all together

When God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days, resting on the 7th, part of his mandate for Adam was that he be a steward of the earth, working it and caring for it. What’s missing in both of these worldviews is the clear mandate given by the Creator.

Creation mandate

Genesis 1:26-28 says: Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Furthermore, when speaking of Adam’s place in the Garden of Eden, Chapter 2 of Genesis says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”

This is the truth for all human life: First of all, we have dominion over all living things and over this world. However, we are also stewards of this earth and the creatures living on it, and it is our duty to care for them.

How should Christians use resources?

If we need natural resources for the betterment and improvement of our country, not pursuing those resources because it will destroy plant or animal life may not be in alignment with the Biblical worldview. We must remember that the earth was given for us to use as we need it, of course that means we ought not abuse it, but at the same time it means that we shouldn’t starve or deplete ourselves of resources for the sake of the earth. At the same time, however, we must be careful to not recklessly harm the earth for the sake of human gain. It is our duty to care for the earth as it belongs to God and it reflects our love for Him when we care for what He has given us.

Final thoughts

Environmentalists are afraid of one thing: destroying the earth. As Christians, we know that this will happen. However, we not only that this will happen but exactly how this will happen. Just read Revelation to get a picture of how God will completely destroy this earth in the last days. What does that mean for us? It means that the earth will not be destroyed by carbon emissions, it will not be destroyed by natural disasters, it will not be destroyed, according to God’s promise to Noah, by a flood. But it will be destroyed in the last days by fire from God.

This is something that Christians ought to care about. I can say from personal experience that I have often put the topic out of my mind because the field of environmentalism seems so wrought with political, theological, and social liberalism. While that is very often the case, Christians must have an answer to these questions. So, as we approach this topic with our non-believing friends, or even our believing, but deceived friends, it is important to first point to creation, the Creator, and the mandate given to us through Adam. Our job is to rule over the earth, to use it for our benefit, but to care for it for the glory of our Creator.

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. You can also support me on Patreon.

Visit to find more great Christian podcasts!

S1E21 – Stewardship of the Earth and Climate Change


1, 2 Anna R. Davies, in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Second Edition), 2020

3 Journal of Environmental Psychology Volume 21, Issue 3, September 2001, Pages 261-272

4, 5 Cryer, Paul, et al. “Why ecocentrism is the key pathway to sustainability.” MAHB, edited by Joan Diamond, Brittany Ganguly, and Erika Gavenus. MAHB, 4 July 2017.,

6 L. Goralnik, M.P. Nelson, in Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics (Second Edition), 2012