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Conquering and Having Dominion

In recent posts (here and here), I shared some things I was learning about what the ancient Hebrew appears to really be saying in Genesis 1 about God’s command to “Be fruitful and multiply; replenish the earth (or fill it, depending on your translation) and subdue it.” I shared how it appears the God created the world to be wild and adversarial and that our job was to tame it.

This has all new meaning as I look at the disasters that have befallen Japan and the Pacific Rim. According to geologists I’ve heard, if the earth didn’t have the plate tectonic action it does (which causes the earthquakes), continents never would have formed and we wouldn’t be here. Nonetheless, it is a hazard of the planet.

Such disasters as earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes are often referred to as ‘natural evil.’ I disagree. They are not evil, except to the degree that they inconvenience, harm or kill us. It is, in my opinion, just a matter of perspective; as such forces have no forethought, malice or intention.

It is further argued that we set ourselves up for disaster by living and building cities in areas prone to flooding, earthquake, volcanic activity and so on. Yet we do this because of the beauty and/or resources such perilous areas provide.

So the question that rises to the surface is, should we take it literally to subdue the very earth itself? Is that part of our charge as a race from God? If we were able to, what would be the long term impact? We have a tendency to look at the short-term and fall victim to the Law of Unintended Consequences—in effect sawing off the branch on which we sit.

If we conquer even the geology and meteorology of the planet, what then will be our fate?

In the meantime, as we meditate on the opportunities God gives us, let us not neglect to pray for and serve those that are suffering as a result of what we cannot yet control. Such ministrations are very much in our control, and we are responsible for acting upon them. We have the opportunity to be the compassion of Christ to fellow human beings, as we would have them do unto us.

May mercy and grace be upon them, and the overflow of bounteous help sustain them.


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