Ecology And Apocalypse

Pollution and Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology, by Francis Schaeffer (Tyndale House, 1970, 125 pp., paperback, $1.95), Brother Earth, by H. Paul Santmire (Nelson, 1970, 236 pp., $4.95), This Little Planet, edited by Michael Hamilton (Scribner, 1970, 241 pp. $6.95), and The Doomsday Book, by Gordon Rattray Taylor (World, 1970, 335 pp., $7.95), are reviewed by Wilbur L. Bullock, professor of zoology, University of New Hampshire, Durham.

During the past few years we have been deluged with books, magazine articles, TV programs, and political speeches warning us of a variety of environmental crises such as pollution, famine, and overpopulation. Ecology, previously a little-known term for an obscure branch of biological science, has now become a household word. The environment has achieved equal status with race, poverty, and the Viet Nam war as an emotional issue with the younger generation, as well as in many political campaigns. That there are deep ethical implications is readily apparent. Yet, except for a few anti-pollution campaigns and some emotional controversy over abortion and birth control, the Church—and especially the evangelical sector—has been strangely silent. If this silence indicates a desire to handle a critical matter with a carefully reasoned approach, then the silence could be helpful. However, we cannot remain silent forever.

Four basic questions must be answered as we tackle the theological aspects of the ecological crises. What is the historical background of the present concern with environmental problems? Are these problems “for real” or have we been subjected to emotional exaggerations by prophets of doom? What is the biblical view of man’s relation to nature? And finally, ...

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