In the Gospel, we discover a hope, that of the life of eternity. With this, the Bible indicates that there is a beyond earthly life, that God's love is not limited to our existence here below. As the author of the letter to the Hebrews writes, we are "seeking a homeland," and it is "a better homeland" to which we aspire, one that is "heavenly" and not earthly. So through the life of Jesus, especially through his resurrection, God invites us to a life beyond life.

Therefore, taking an interest in the fate of the planet may seem secondary: isn't it ridiculous to want to protect an environment, all temporary, at all costs? One might even ask whether devoting great efforts to protecting the planet might not be a sign of a lack of hope in this life of eternity... a lack of respect for your creative work. 

Eternal life and the fate of the planet

Some, without any sense in their lives, start not to take care of themselves anymore and have self-destructive attitudes; the same could be said of a disoriented humanity that would no longer have respect for this environment.

Thus, having confidence in this eternal life becomes rather a call to safeguard God's creation now. If God deems us worthy to be welcomed with him forever, this undoubtedly indicates that our life here below also receives inestimable value, and with it all of creation in constant renewal, that which "now still groans in the pains of childbirth" (Rom. 8: 22). Continuous creation and eternal salvation are one and the same movement, that of God who never ceases to manifest his love to all mankind.

Believing in the life of eternity cannot, therefore, be contradictory to a concern for the environment. To expect the hereafter promised by God implies respecting the here below already given by Him. It is he who fills the whole universe: "The Lord your God is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath" (Josh. 2:11). 

Our presence in this world has a meaning, and the hope of eternal life only makes that meaning even deeper. The Gospel calls us to love our neighbor, to a spirit of wonder, which are all reasons to care for the created world: my behavior also has consequences for my brothers and sisters in humanity and for future generations.

Now, God's creation wants to live, today and forever. As Albert Schweitzer said, "I am the life that wants to live, surrounded by the life that wants to live" (Civilization and Ethics, 1976). The life of eternity is a promise that keeps us awake, a responsibility for today.

The human being at the top of creation

The first two chapters of Genesis relate the creation of the universe (if you haven't already, I invite you to read them). God made the universe and everything in it: the stars, the elements, life on earth. 

The literary form of the Genesis account presents creation not in chronological order, but by categories: first the settings (light/night; sea/sky; land/vegetation), then what populates these settings (stars, sea animals and birds, land animals). 

Man's responsibility towards creation

We read in verse 28 that God asked the man and the woman to be fruitful and to fill the earth. Without a doubt, this injunction was respected! Notice also that this command to be fruitful was given to aquatic animals and birds:

And he blesses them with these words: Be fruitful, be fruitful, multiply, fill the waters of the seas, and let the birds also multiply on the earth. (Genesis 1, verse 22)

This mission of fruitfulness is the same for humans and animals, and comes with the blessing of God, who cares for all of his creation.

However, for humans, it goes further because they are vested with authority over the animals of the earth. God wants humans to take control of the earth and dominate it. 

The words "dominate" and "become masters" can be misinterpreted and lead to justify the disproportionate exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of nature. However, if we put ourselves in the perspective of man created in the image of God, who is love, we understand that the authority in question is marked by love.