Meditating on environmentalism, antihumanism and gardening


I wonder how many people like me remember a television ad from four decades ago. It featured a Native American crying at the pollution that he saw. It was part of the Keep America Beautiful ad campaign, and impacted me deeply.

The wanton and careless destruction of natural resources is a misuse of the great land that God has given us. I am extremely happy to see the tremendous progress that we have made in the past four decades. The clean-up of water, land and air has been remarkable.

I can remember my first hike into the Frontier Creek drainage above Dubois. Seven miles in we found a pile of Chef Boyardee cans under a juniper. I am happy to report that in hundreds of miles of hiking since, I don’t see that very often. And when I do, it is usually litter from the bad old days.

But while we were cleaning up America, something more sinister was happening. A network of religious zealots were organizing under a quiet philosophy that is called antihumanism. Unlike the ad campaigns of the 70s that preached, “People start pollution; people can stop it,” antihumanism rejects the second sentence and preaches simply, “People cause pollution.”

The Club of Rome is a group of such thinkers who have had an undue influence on the environmentalist movement. The environmentalism that all of us cheer has been so successful and popular that this group, and others like them, have used it as a Trojan Horse to bring in more sinister ideas.

In 1974 the Club of Rome published a book titled “Man at the Turning Point.” In it, they claimed, “The World Has Cancer and the Cancer Is Man.”

Read that again and let it sink in. Cancer serves no useful purpose. Cancer cannot be taught, reformed or redirected in a more positive direction. Cancer is to be exterminated. It is to be hated. The Club of Rome believes that man is to be hated and exterminated from the earth.

As rhetoric, this is over the top. But it is more than rhetoric. It is the solemn belief of a growing number of elites who spend billions of dollars to limit and reduce the human population. I call them elites for the obvious reason that they do not consider themselves to be “cancer” in need of extermination. 

Some occasionally vow, on principle, never to “reproduce,” but they do not believe their own words about their own personal life. I thank God for that. I do not wish any of these people to take their own lives. I only wish they would see that their judgment about their own worth is equally true of you and every other human being on this planet.

Antihumanism, as expressed by the Club of Rome, is really nothing new. It is the resurgence of the ancient dualist religions. These religions looked at the evil in the world around them and concluded that the very people and things themselves were evil. They thought wrongdoers couldn’t be reformed but only killed.

This is fundamentally different from the Christian notions which have shaped our culture and our laws for 17 centuries. Christians believe that evil is a cancer that infects man. They do not believe that man himself is the cancer. Most Americans, whether they are Christians or not, think this way, but antihumanism does not. 

This great divide in thinking about human beings has a direct application to the way we think about environmental issues. Antihuman approaches to environmental issues treat human beings themselves as the problem, so they talk incessantly about “reducing man’s footprint” on the earth. 

Practically speaking, that means the promotion of birth control, abortion and suicide. This is exactly what we are seeing when the Prime Minister of Canada pledges millions of dollars to provide abortions in developing countries. Here, again, the humans targeted for thinning are not ourselves or our own, but someone else entirely.

Robert Zubrin, a scientist retired from NASA, wrote a compelling and well-documented book which traces the influence of antihumanism through two centuries. In “Merchants of Despair,” he documents the deadly ideas behind the Irish potato blight and the Indian famine of the 1870s right on through to the modern policies of USAID and the UN. 

But if antihumanism is bankrupt, what is the answer to environmental issues? If I may make a pun, fix the sin, not the sinner. We don’t need to keep humans from reproducing. We need to help each other be truly human. Human beings are unlike every other animal. We serve vital roles in the welfare of the earth.

This is not only a Christian teaching; the very existence of the Club of Rome proves the point. Why else would a bunch of thinkers from all over the world spend copious amounts of money, energy and time to make the world a better place? I checked their website. There is not a single animal listed in their entire organizational directory.

Christian doctrine speaks of this phenomenon with the words, “Let them (male and female) have dominion over … the earth” (Genesis 1:26). But common sense teaches this as well. In 1879, Henry George wrote, “Here is the difference between the animal and the man. Both the jay-hawk and the man eat chickens, but the more jay-hawks, the fewer chickens, while the more men the more chickens” (Progress and Poverty).

Contrary to much of the hijacked environmental movement, human beings are more than just mouths to feed. They are persons who think and solve problems and make their world a better place. America’s response to the “Keep America Beautiful” ad campaign was to clean up our environment like never before. 

But in third-world countries, where they can barely scrape by, the pollution is worse than you have ever seen. The answer is not to thin them out, but to help them grow. All over the world, the cleanest, safest and most environmentally responsible countries are also the most developed countries.

According to the Bible, God created the world with all its wild beauty, but He also did something else. He planted a garden. It was not in the wilderness, but in the garden, where God put Adam and Eve. Then, He gave them a calling: cultivate the garden.

The implication of this teaching is that humankind exists to extend the borders of the garden out into the wilderness. Once again, here we find common ground. Whether you are a Sierra Club environmentalist or a country club industrialist, we all like gardens. Let’s make this world one.

So, this Saturday, on the 47th annual Earth Day, let’s keep this in mind. Pick up some trash and plant a tree — but don’t trash your fellow humans, and don’t let the deathly ideas of antihumanism get planted in your mind.

While sin and evil exist, there will be pollution and waste. But the problem is not human beings; it is the sin and evil that infects us. That’s why, last Sunday, the world commemorated another day. On that day, a human being who was planted in a garden tomb began to grow through the entire world. The footprint of this Man does not kill the earth but renews it.

Jonathan Lange has a heart for our state and community. Locally, he has raised his family and served as pastor Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Evanston and St. Paul’s in Kemmerer for two decades.Statewide, he leads the Wyoming Pastors Network in advocating for the traditional church in the public square.