environment religion

A Christian response to Gaia theory

I’m writing this in anticipation. For a lot of Christians, the word Gaia alone sets all sorts of alarm bells ringing. A lot of Christians are dismissive of environmentalism as ‘new age’, I’ve been called it myself, and things like Gaia don’t help that.

It’s true, Gaia was seized upon by certain people. It has a bit of a hippy vibe to it. But then The Lord of the Rings was a huge hippy favourite, and that doesn’t make it bad literature. Likewise, Gaia is not bad science, and in fact Lovelock slightly resents the attention his theory got from the wrong people.

The name Gaia was suggested by the novelist William Golding. Gaia was a Greek goddess, and Lovelock says this about the name: ‘I have found it useful to imagine the earth as like an animal… It has never been more than a metaphor – an aide pensee, no more serious than the thoughts of a sailor who refers to his ship as ‘she’.” So there you have it.

If you’re still not sure, what about “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth ” as the Apostle Paul says in Romans 8. Paul uses Mother Earth imagery.

More interestingly, I think, the Bible talks about the land regulating itself. Have a look at Leviticus 26, where God talks about abuses of the land. ‘I will remember the land’, God says, and the land will drive out those who do not respect it. If you overfarm a piece of land, its yields drop until you have to rest it, let it lie fallow. That’s just one example of a natural rhythm that has to be respected, and the Old Testament has plenty of them. I’m not going to labour this point, but read the passage if you’re interested and see whether or not it sounds like God has made the earth to police itself.

5 comments

  1. Importantly, personification need not imply divinisation. Mother Earth can be – imaginatively, and even scripturally* – conceived as a coherent entity within our moral community (or rather, within which our moral community exists), and so it is neither pagan nor incoherent to speak of proper duties and delight with regard to Mother Earth.

    *(in addition to those you mention, see also Genesis 1: “let the earth bring forth”, a divine invitation to an action on the part of the earth)

    1. This is a post I’d long forgotten about, but thanks for reading it and commenting. I love the way that right from the beginning, God is working with the earth. It’s a partnership, an invitation as you say, an ongoing and dynamic relationship between creator and creation. And what could be more glorifying to him than a creation that is in itself creative?

  2. Gaia to you might not mean much but it is from her that man first walked from. She might not be as you call GOD or the DIVINE. But without GAIA our life force is nothing. She gives us the shelter from space and beyond. She gives us air to breathe. Water to drink. She is innocent compared to the God title and son of god. Jesus was a good man indeed. He was a Jew who gave his life for what was supposed to be peace. But to this day Christians still abuse and torment the Jews. A lot of people have no faith in the Old Testament. But it has more facts than the new. There are 7200 religions in the world. No one can say which one is the right one. It’s for each to decide on there own. I come from the earth and will give back to Gaia at some point. I am not knocking anyone’s beliefs. But to me personally God is no Saint. If he really believes in forgiveness then all fallen angles should of been forgiven. Kids would not be born with severe chronic illness. There would not be wars. The Bible is both good and bad depending on how you translate the scriptures.

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