Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the Earth, and subdue it. That's what God told Adam and Eve in the King James Bible. Do Christians therefore have an obligation to tame the Earth and exercise “dominion” over all its plants and animals?
Not according to Pope Francis. In a speech on May 21, he noted that our planet is a great gift to humanity. Nature and the cosmos beyond are objects for wonder and awe—an awe that the Christian deity also shared after creating it.
That experience of awe suggests that the obligation we humans bear is to care for God's creation. At least, that's how Pope Francis apparently thinks about the natural world. According to the leader of the Earth’s more than one billion Catholics, we should be stewards of creation—not its masters or owners.
His remarks included a caveat. Translated into English, Pope Francis said, "If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us. Never forget this!"
Sounds like he was issuing a warning about climate change, mass extinction and other negative human impacts on our only planetary home. A warning we should heed, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]