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The Earth Is Not Our Mother

With the arrival of Earth Day comes the renewed charge to “Love Your Mother.” According to that platitude and those who own it, our mother is the earth. Loving “her” requires a high level of commitment to environmentalist causes. The Earth Day Initiative has even put together a website that lists fifty ways to love your "mother" by helping make sure that you’re embracing and using green energy. Even if I agree with some of the actions encouraged by those who celebrate Earth Day (and I do – note “some,” not all), I unequivocally reject the notion that the earth is our mother.

As a Christian, I believe that God is the Creator of the universe and all that’s contained in it. Furthermore, I believe that He created all things by the power of His Word. The creation account found in Genesis leaves little room for any other interpretation. If you want to quibble with me about how God's creative process played out or how long it took Him to do so, that's fine, assuming, of course, that you agree with me that God is the creator of all things, including a literal Adam and Eve. If you do agree with me on that point, then I submit that you, too, should wholesale reject the notion that the earth is our mother.

For starters, tagging the earth as our mother is tantamount to elevating the created to the level of the Creator. That's idolatry. No matter how allegorically the word "mother" is used, the obvious implication remains that the earth should receive some of the credit for the existence of humans—that the earth helped God, on some level or other, during His creative process. Robbing God of any amount of His deserved glory and credit while turning His creation into an object of worship should be a non-starter for all Christians.

The other obvious implication is that the earth possesses some level of authority over humans. The interesting thing is that the ancient Mesopotamian creation myths often presented the earth as having authority over humans, albeit a capricious and vindictive authority. Assyriologist Alexander Heidel pointed out in The Babylonian Genesis that "the Babylonian creation stories are permeated with a crude polytheism." That polytheism extended to nature itself, a form of pantheism.

Many of the ancient creation myths tell the story of angry and warring gods who imbued the earth with levels of divinity. Often, humans were painted as the objects of distrust and jealousy from the perspective of the gods, and nature (the earth) along with the gods were often at war with humans. This is why many of the cultic practices of the ancients involved sacrifices with the objective of appeasing nature. Humans were afraid of nature, yet understood that unless nature surrendered "her" bounty, they would most likely perish. Likewise, ancient humans believed that if nature didn't restrain "her" wrath, they would perish. Humans worshiped nature as a capricious god from whom life flowed. However, the book of Genesis completely reverses that idolatrous perspective.