Are we as a species guilty of committing the sin of Lucifer while harming our shared planet?

This week, it is argued that ignoring pollution, environmental damage, and humanity's devastating impact on other life forms is tantamount to completing the evil work of the Christian Lucifer.  Stock photo.

This week, it is argued that ignoring pollution, environmental damage, and humanity’s devastating impact on other life forms is tantamount to completing the evil work of the Christian Lucifer. Stock photo.

According to the Bible, Lucifer, one of God’s archangels, was cast out of Heaven at the beginning of time, i.e. before the creation of the material world, because he thought he was God’s equal, if not better than Him. (“He” in the sense non-gender of the word.)

Lucifer figures in the Bible in the form of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Satan tempting Jesus during his 40 days and nights of fasting in the Judean desert, and the dragon in the Book of Revelation.

According to the Bible, Lucifer’s purpose is to harm humanity by any means possible, including the destruction of the biosphere, the upholder of every living thing that the Bible, Quran, and other religious texts state was created by God.

That said, the question we should ponder is whether by destroying the biosphere, ruining God’s handiwork, we are actually doing exactly what Lucifer did, which is thinking we know more than God.

One way we could be said to be doing this is by wiping out species from the multitude and altering the very physicality of the Earth with which the Bible on at least five occasions says God was pleased, if not delighted.

Genesis: 12, for example, says the following.

β€œThe earth brought forth vegetation: herbs bearing seed of every kind, trees of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed itself. And God said it was good.”

We are systematically and intentionally extinguishing other species through trophy hunting; one example is the widespread practice in Southeast Asia of taking songbirds from their natural habitat and confining them for life in cages for the gratification of people.

Another way we exterminate species is by turning habitat into farmland or using it to extend the range of towns and cities.

In countries like Brazil and Indonesia, this is done through burning and clearing of forests.

In Ireland, it is done by planting acre after acre of Sitka Spruce on biodiversely rich peat bogs, extracting the peat to be burned as turf and, until recently, sold as garden compost.

Human-induced extinction is also caused by overfishing; the pollution of rivers, lakes and seas by industrial waste; the release of untreated wastewater and the runoff of toxic chemicals used on farms, including insecticides, pesticides and herbicides.

Plastic pollution, the causes and extent of which are well documented, leads to the deaths of a whole range of land and marine animals.

And as is regularly reported in the news and explained in documentaries, the disappearance of wildlife is caused by global warming through the burning of fossil fuels and the release of methane from various sources, including landfills, rice paddies, farm animals and the oil and gas extraction.

Human-induced extinction is also caused by invasive species. One example is the extinction of 28 seabirds on Marion Island in the Indian Ocean caused by rats eating ground chicks and birds nesting in burrows.

As reported in The Irish Times (Weekend Review, 25 March 2023), rats were unwittingly brought to the island by sealers in the 19th century.

Such is the extent and speed with which we are ending non-human life, that we are now experiencing what is being called “the sixth mass extinction”.

Scientists tell us there have been at least five mass extinctions in the past 540 million years.

The last one occurred about 65 million years ago and led to the disappearance of 76% of life forms.

This was caused by an asteroid impact on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, which, as most schoolchildren know, led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

It should be borne in mind that extinctions are an integral part of evolution, with the disappearance of some species leading to the emergence of others.

Scientists, such as those working at the Natural History Museum in London, estimate that between 0.1 and 1 percent of species go extinct every 10,000 years. This is called ‘the bottom rate’.

A mass extinction occurs when species go extinct faster than they are replaced, with at least 75% going extinct in a relatively short period of time, which in geological terms is two million years.

Though we’ve made species extinct since the end of the last ice age, we’ve done so at an ever-increasing rate over the past 500 years, turning whole swathes of the planet β€” including parts of the Irish-British archipelago β€” into dead zones.

We were reminded in March when the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland published ‘Plant Atlas 2020’, available online, which is based on 20 years of data collected from 2,500 botanists, scientists and trained volunteers, and shows that there has been a 56% decline in native plant species in Ireland since 1987, and that in both Ireland and Britain, non-native plant species now outnumber native ones.

Given the role we knowingly play in extinguishing life on Earth, which diminishes the chances of our survival, it is understandable that one could conclude that we are guilty of committing Lucifer’s sin.

Do we borrow a common phrase, play God, when deciding which species we want to continue to exist and which not, which mountains to level, which rivers to let flow freely, and which habitat to remain intact or turn to ashes? ?

The biblical Lucifer must be very pleased with us, for unless we change our attitude towards non-human nature, there will soon be nothing left of God’s work to destroy, and the last human being may very well feel Lucifer declare checkmate to God.

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