"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 16, Number 5, May 2013
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one. Nor will I flatter any man.”
“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”
Shakespeare’s King Lear
Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34
[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com. You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address. Back issues sent on request. All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org
All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only. Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand. Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given upon request.]
A Biblical Perspective on Environmentalism: Part V
The Extinction of Species
All species, or “kinds” (to use the term
employed in the English Bible), of animals and plants are God’s deliberate
creations, and as a consequence had in the past and do have in the present
their niche in the complex “natural world,” though their originally harmonious
contribution may have subsequently become decidedly warped and distorted by the
fall of man. Even the most unremarkable
species may be of particular value to
mankind (though direct usefulness to man is not
the ultimate standard of value). I think
of the armadillo. This species is of no
apparent direct economic value to man (though some folks in
Modern animal extinctions are nothing new. There have been numerous animal extinctions or near-extinctions in the past to most of which man has not directly contributed. Of course, the greatest near-extinction of animals occurred in the historic Flood of Genesis 6-8. Besides destroying and burying multiple billions, even trillions of sea-dwelling creatures of all classes, as well as numerous plant species, it also destroyed all air-breathing land creatures except those preserved on the ark. After the Flood, there were numerous varieties of the preserved kinds that appeared, multiplied, and then went extinct in subsequent centuries. The first to come to mind, of course, would be the dinosaurs, which indeed were part of the zoological cargo on the ark (no doubt juvenile pairs), but have become extinct since. Similarly with the woolly mammoths and mastodons (varieties of the original elephant “kind” rather than separate “species,” I suspect). Though once numbering in the millions, they died out in relatively short order (likely due to “climate change” in the post-ice age epoch) from factors all but entirely outside human control (evidence of human hunting of mammoths is very limited). Other examples of such post-Flood extinctions include giant sloths, saber-tooth cats, and more.
In the present, we often hear ominous
matter-of-fact declarations by environmental extremists of a growing torrent of
species extinctions at the hands of man--50 per day, according to some
claims. What is not stated is that this
is a totally fabricated number, based on estimates of undiscovered and unknown
species that are “no doubt” being lost to decimation by logging of tropical
rain forests (which used to be called “jungles”). Documented extinctions in modern times are a
tiny fraction of these estimates. In
One issue in all this is the definition of “species.” Very often what alarmist environmentalists identify as separate species are really only varieties within a species--a sub-species of sparrows or lizards or minnows that has distinctive coloring or plumage, or a shape slightly different from others of the same species (the same kinds of differences we see between, say, a Chihuahua and a Boston terrier, or a Siamese and a Persian cat). Varieties come and go repeatedly, without endangering a species or kind. The extremists scream bloody murder if some localized minor variety of snail or rat or pigeon is “threatened” by proposed development, when the species prospers elsewhere in the hundreds of thousands or millions.
Some months ago, I made a study of Kansas’ original native mammal species (other than the rodentia), and discovered that the only ones not still extant in Kansas are the grizzly bear, the black bear (though we have occasional incursions of individuals from Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas), and the gray wolf--all predators of domestic livestock, and incompatible with farming and livestock raising. It should be noted that though absent from Kansas, none of these species is totally extinct or even close, but persist, and even prosper in other areas. Mountain lions were long-declared extinct in the state, but in recent decades there have been numerous sightings. For a time, antelope were quite rare, and bison were very few in number, but both have greatly increased in population by direct human action.
Human habitation, and manipulation of the natural environment by farming, construction, paving, and more, has had minimal harmful impact on native Kansas’ mammal species, and has in fact enabled some original species to greatly increase their numbers in the 150 years since Kansas’ settlement began--squirrels (due to extensive tree planting), raccoons, possums, skunks and coyotes, to name just a few, which do remarkably well in close proximity to human habitation.
Likewise deer populations, small a half century ago, have expanded to the point of becoming a nuisance, even a real danger to man. There are some 10,000 deer-vehicle collisions each year in the state, causing multiplied millions of dollars in property damage and resulting in several human deaths. With virtually all their natural predators gone, the only reasonable approach to keeping deer population numbers within bounds is by regular annual harvests of the surplus animals (numbering in the hundreds of thousands) by hunting. Not only are those who hunt deer not “big meanies who kill Bambi’s mother,” they are doing a great service in suppressing an otherwise out of control population growth.
There are also numerous introduced species
that were absent in 1850. Armadillos, at
one time limited to places hundreds of miles south of
I am not particularly well-versed in birds
and reptiles, so cannot speak in detail about them, but I will note that there
are a number of bird species here that were wholly absent in 1850--ring-necked
pheasants, starlings, English sparrows, South African rock doves (pigeons), and
cattle egrets among them. The only
once-present bird species now extinct is the passenger pigeon. At present, there are regularly warnings issued
about declines in prairie chicken populations (though the numbers are still
large enough to support an annual hunting season in
Beyond my immediate personal local observations, there is, among many that could be mentioned, the classic example of the polar bears (a variety of bear, actually, not a separate species; where their ranges overlap, polar bears and grizzlies readily inter-breed). We are “informed” by zealots that the polar bears are about to disappear with the polar ice cap, when in reality, the population of polar bears in the wild has expanded very substantially in recent decades, and continues to grow (from a reported 5,000 or so around 1970 to over 25,000 today).
Those who repeatedly cry “wolf” (or “manatee” or “elephant”) regarding animal extinctions are very long on bold claims and very short on actual evidence.
“Preservation” of Species by Human Economic “Exploitation”
Though it may seem counter-intuitive to those who haven’t thought it through, in truth the best way to preserve an endangered (real or perceived) species is to insure that it is in the direct economic interest of people to preserve and propagate it. And this requires establishing, protecting and maintaining a market for the species and its products. If there is an economic incentive for preserving and propagating a species, it will be safe forever.
Case in point: the North American bison / buffalo (Latin, Bison bison). Originally numbering, what? 30? 60? 90 million? individuals (nobody really knows for sure), but reduced by wanton and wasteful slaughter to under 1,000 animals (some accounts say as few as 88) by the late 1880s, they have increased to nearly ½ million today, a number that is growing rapidly. How is this possible? By giving bison owners the opportunity to make money from them. It is and has always been entirely legal to sell bison--their meat, hides, heads, and horns, and to hunt privately-owned herds, and as a consequence, those who have owned bison have had every incentive to protect, preserve and propagate their herds so as to have a never-ending supply of this commodity to sell. However, had some “genius” environmental extremist in the 1880s insisted on an “endangered species” classification for the bison, and imposed draconian penalties on those who bought or sold their products, the present population would be at best a few thousand--those in zoos or in national parks such as Yellowstone, where they would be a continuing economic burden rather than a profitable economic resource.
In contrast, compare African elephants (and
rhinos and tigers, too). It is currently
absolutely illegal world-wide to deal in any contemporary elephant products of
any kind--ivory, meat, hides, etc, and therefore
there is no economic motivation (beyond tourism) to protect, propagate and
expand existing herds. Poaching, rather
than being stopped or greatly reduced, is encouraged
by the prohibition of trade in elephant products, since the value of illegally
traded products is artificially high due to severely restricted supply. If, instead, the local villagers (and anyone
else so inclined) were permitted to raise and use or sell elephants and their
products (certified as “sustainably harvested”), they would then have a strong
vested interest in protecting and propagating the species. As it is, I understand that they are not even
permitted to eat the meat of rogue bulls that have had to be killed to protect
human life and property. In contrast, I
note that in
Tigers, with declining numbers in the wild (due in part to poaching for hides, meat, glands and more), would immediately become less “threatened” if it were legal to raise and sell living tigers and all their parts. If money could be readily made by raising tigers (and I have read that the various parts of a single animal can generate tens of thousands of dollars), then someone will figure out how to meet the demand for skins, and all else. A free market in “certified domestic-raised” tigers would reduce the “profit motive” of poaching wild animals, and reduce that pressure on remaining populations, while resulting in a great increase in total world tiger populations.
In short, the quickest road to extinction for an animal species is for a government or governments to make the producing, owning, buying or selling of that animal and its products illegal. Severe restrictions and outright prohibitions of trade in elephant, rhino and tiger products have done nothing to stop the precipitous population declines reported, and in fact unintentionally encourage the further slaughter in the wild, due to the high potential profits of such illegal activity.
And consider an inverse situation: what
would happen to the many millions of beef cattle in
So while the zealous environmentalists apparently have good intentions--the sparing from extinction various “endangered” animals--, their favored methods for securing this aim are ineffective and even counterproductive, encouraging further slaughter of the target species. Good intentions count for nothing if they unwittingly spawn bad consequences.
History of the Christian
Church: volume I, Apostolic Christianity A. D.
1-100 by Philip Schaff.
(1819-1893) was one of the pre-eminent Bible scholars and most prolific
Christian writers in 19th century
Though most famous for his 8-volume church history set (volumes 5 & 6 on the latter Middle Ages were actually written by his son David Schaff), so numerous were the works that Schaff either wrote or edited, that it would take a diligent reader the better part of a decade to read them with care if he did almost nothing else (I have read more than half a dozen of his books).
Schaff’s Church History is deservedly famous, and though it is well beyond a century old, still retains its value. Schaff had the necessary academic qualifications to write on church history: he had the necessary linguistic skills in German, French and English among the modern tongues, and was thoroughly at home in Latin and Greek as well (and Hebrew, too!) among the ancients (the great majority of primary documents in ancient church history--the church fathers, creeds, decrees of councils, and such--are in these languages). He had been trained by, inter alios, then-leading church historian Augustin Neander, and had a lifelong devotion to scholarship, with a scholar’s attention to accuracy and detail. And he does a commendable job of sifting his sources and reporting his findings in a readable and informative manner. Of course, his writing reflects his German Reformed theology (defending a-millennialism, infant baptism, union of church and state, a semi-sacramentarian view of the ordinances and more, yet teaches unlimited atonement and conditional salvation), and he gives much more attention to the hyper-critical theories and claims of the radical critics of the Bible than they merit. The set covers nothing beyond the Reformation. Even so, there have been few monumental changes in the state of knowledge of events in church history up to and through the Reformation in the past 100 years, and so the content of the set is not out-dated.
After stating the purpose, design and resources for writing church history, and giving an extended account of his predecessors in the field, Schaff addresses in volume one the Biblical and early post-Biblical history of Christianity in the NT era. He deals with the historical context of Gentile paganism, Roman government, and Jewish religion and customs, the life of Jesus (including the knotty issues of dates and chronology), the history in Acts (I completely disagree with his explanation of tongues in Acts 2 and I Corinthians), post-NT traditions, the Jewish war with Rome (ending with Jerusalem’s devastation), and Christianity’s place in and impact on the contemporary culture. He also provides what is essentially an “introduction” for each NT book, treating all the usual subjects--author, date, purpose, occasion, contents and canonicity (an entirely conservative treatment and defense against the radical critics; he has extended discussions of the Synoptic Gospels’ inter-relationship, and on historic interpretations of “666”). The bibliography in this volume is chiefly, though not entirely, of now long-forgotten and inaccessible German works, and so is to that degree deficient.
Over the years (first beginning forty years ago!), I have read two full volumes of the eight, and enough more of the set scattered through the remaining volumes to equal a third complete volume. I have resolved to go ahead and read the rest of the set through over the next year or two.
Selected quotes from History of the Christian Church, vol. I, by Philip Schaff (and many of these gleanings are absolute gems)--
“[William M. Ramsay] comes to the conclusion that nearly all the books of the New Testament can no more be forgeries of the second century than the works of Horace and Virgil can be forgeries of the time of Nero.” (pp. xv-xvi]
“A view of history which overlooks or undervalues the divine factor starts from deism and consistently runs into atheism.” (p. 2)
“It is difficult to convert a nation; it is more difficult to train it to the high standard of the gospel; it is most difficult to revive and reform a dead or apostate church.” (p. 7)
“More Christian blood has been shed by [professing] Christians than by heathens and Mohammedans.” (p. 8)
“The sixteenth century [is], next to the apostolic age, the most fruitful and interesting period of church history, . . . . “ (p. 17)
“The first duty of the historian, which comprehends all others, is fidelity and justice. He must reproduce history itself, making it live again in his representation. His highest and only aim should be, like a witness, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and, like a judge, to do full justice to every person and event which comes under his review.” (p. 22)
“The number of sources of general history is so large and increasing so rapidly, that it is, of course, impossible to read and digest them all in a short lifetime [this is true in every field of knowledge--editor]. Every historian rests on the shoulders of his predecessors. He must take some things on trust even after the most conscientious search, and avail himself of the invaluable aid of documentary collections and digests, ample indexes, and exhaustive monographs, where he cannot examine all the primary sources in detail. Only he should always carefully indicate his authorities and verify facts, dates, and quotations. A want of accuracy is fatal to the reputation of an historical work” (p. 22)
“There is no use in writing books unless they are read. . . . Unfortunately, church historians, with very few exceptions, are behind the great secular historians in point of style, and represent the past as a dead corpse rather than as a living and working power of abiding interest. Hence church histories are so little read outside of professional circles.” (pp. 24, 25)
“Without the comfort of the Messianic Promise, the law must have driven the earnest soul to despair.” (p. 68)
“Heathenism is religion in its wild growth on the soil of fallen human nature, a darkening of the original consciousness of God, a deification of the rational and irrational creature, and a corresponding corruption of the moral sense, giving the sanction of religion to natural and unnatural vices.” (p. 72)
“Homer knows no devil, but he puts a devilish element into his deities. The Greek gods, and also the Roman gods, who were copied from the former, are mere men and women, in who Homer and the popular faith saw and worshipped the weaknesses and vices of the Grecian character, as well as the virtues, in magnified forms. The gods are born, but never die. They have bodies and senses, like mortals, only in colossal proportions. They eat and drink, though only nectar and ambrosia. They are awake and fall asleep. They travel, but with the swiftness of thought. They mingle in battle. They cohabit with human beings, producing heroes or demigods. They are limited to time and space. Though sometimes honored with the attributes of omnipotence and omniscience, and called holy and just, yet they are subject to an iron fate (Moira), fall under delusion, and reproach each other with folly and crime. Their heavenly happiness is disturbed by all the troubles of earthly life. . . . The gods are involved by their marriages in perpetual jealousies and quarrels, they are full of envy and wrath, hatred and lust, prompt men to crime, and provoke each other to lying and cruelty, perjury and adultery. The Iliad and Odyssey, the most popular poems of the Hellenic genius, are a chronique scandaleuse of the gods.” (pp. 73-74; how utterly UNLIKE the God of Scripture).
“Notwithstanding this essential apostasy from truth and holiness, heathenism was religion, a groping after ‘the unknown God.’ By its superstition, it betrayed the need of faith. Its polytheism rested on a dim monotheistic background; it subjected all the gods to Jupiter, and Jupiter himself to a mysterious fate. It had at bottom the feeling of dependence on higher powers and reverence for divine things. It preserved the memory of a golden age and of a fall. It had the voice of conscience, and a sense, obscure though it was, of guilt. It felt the need of reconciliation with deity, and sought that reconciliation by prayer, penance, and sacrifice. Many of its religious traditions and usages were faint echoes of the primal religion; and its mythological dreams of the mingling of the gods with men, of demigods, of Prometheus delivered by Hercules from his helpless sufferings, were unconscious prophecies and fleshly anticipations of Christian truths. This alone explains the great readiness with which heathens embraced the gospel, to the shame of the Jews.” (p. 74)
“The elements of truth, morality, and piety scattered throughout ancient heathenism, may be ascribed to three sources. In the first place, man, even in his fallen state, retains some traces of the divine image, a knowledge of God, however weak, a moral sense or conscience, and a longing for union with the Godhead, for truth and for righteousness. . . . Secondly, some account must be made of traditions and recollections, however faint, coming down from the general primal revelations to Adam and Noah. But the third and most important source of the heathen anticipations of truth is the all-ruling providence of God, who has never left himself with a witness.” (p. 75)
of the ancient Greeks and the universal empire of
“The Greek and Latin languages, as the Sanskrit and Hebrew, died in their youth and were embalmed and preserved from decay in the immortal works of the classics. They still furnish the best scientific terms for every branch of learning and art and every new invention. The primitive records of Christianity have been protected against the uncertainties of interpretation incident upon the constant changes of a living language.” (p. 79)
“The history of
every ancient nation ends, says Niebuhr, as the history of every modern nation
begins, in that of
“The facilities and security of travel were greater in the reign of the Caesars than in any subsequent period before the nineteenth century.” (p. 81)
“The Romans from the first believed themselves called to govern the world. They looked upon all foreigners--not as barbarians, like the cultured Greeks did, but--as enemies to be conquered and reduced to servitude. War and triumph were their highest conception of human glory and happiness.” (p. 80)
“Man must believe something, and worship either God or the devil.” (p. 82)
necromancers abounded [in first century
“By this dispersion of the Jews the seeds of the knowledge of the true God and the Messianic hope were sown in the field of the idolatrous world. The Old Testament Scriptures were translated into Greek two centuries before Christ, and were read and expounded in the public worship of God, which was open to all. Every synagogue was a mission-station of monotheism, and furnished the apostles an admirable place and a natural introduction for their preaching of Jesus Christ as the fulfiller of the law and the prophets.” (p. 87)
“Whatever their origin and date, [the four canonical Gospels] exhibit essentially the same divine-human life and character of Christ, which stands out in sharp contrast with the fictitious Christ of the Apocryphal Gospels, and cannot possibly have been invented, least of all by illiterate Galileans.” (p. 90)
“There is no conflict between the historical Jesus of Nazareth and the ideal Christ of faith.” (p. 101)
“The better and holier a man is, the more he feels his need of pardon, and how far he falls short of his own imperfect standard of excellence. But Jesus, with the same nature as ours and tempted as we are, never yielded to temptation; never had cause for regretting any thought, word, or action; he never needed pardon, or conversion, or reform.; he never fell out of harmony with his heavenly Father. His whole life was one unbroken act of self-consecration to the glory of God and the eternal welfare of his fellow-men.” (p. 107)
scenes of the earthly life of our Lord and the beginning of his heavenly life
took place in
“No argument in favor of the resurrection will avail with those critics who start with the philosophical assumption that miracles are impossible, and still less with those who deny not only the resurrection of the body, but even the immortality of the soul. But facts are stubborn, and if a critical hypothesis can be proven to be psychologically and historically impossible and unreasonable, the result is fatal to the philosophy which underlies the critical hypothesis. It is not the business of the historian to construct a history from his preconceived notions and to adjust it to his own liking, but to reproduce it from the best evidence and to let it speak for itself.” (p. 175)
Tacitus, ‘all things vile and shameful’ were sure to flow from all quarters of
the empire into
scarcely another period in history so full of vice, corruption, and disaster as
the six years between the Neronian persecution and
the destruction of
“The Logos became man--not partially but totally, not apparently but really, not transiently but permanently, not by ceasing to be divine, nor by being changed into a man, but by an abiding personal union with man. He is henceforth the God-man.” (p. 556)
[On I John 2:2]--“The universality of the atonement could not be more clearly expressed; but there is a difference between universal sufficiency and universal efficiency.” (p. 557)
“. . .the New Testament, a book altogether unique in spiritual power and influence over the mind and heart of man, and of more interest and value than all the ancient and modern classics combined. If ever God spoke and still speaks to man, it is in this book.” (p. 572)
“The credibility of the canonical Gospels receives also negative confirmation from the numerous apocryphal Gospels which by their immeasurable inferiority and childishness prove the utter inability of the human imagination, whether orthodox or heterodox, to produce such a character as the historical Jesus of Nazareth.” (p. 585)
“The credibility of the Gospels would never have been denied if it were not for the philosophical and dogmatic skepticism which desires to get rid of the supernatural and miraculous at any price.” (p. 589)
“[Luke’s] accuracy has been put to the severest test, especially in the Acts, where he frequently alludes to secular rulers and events; but while a few chronological difficulties, as that of the census of Quirinius, are not yet satisfactorily removed, he has upon the whole, even in minute particulars, been proven to be a faithful, reliable, and well informed historian.” (p. 654)
“No wonder that the third Gospel has been pronounced, from a purely literary and humanitarian standpoint, to be the most beautiful book ever written.” (p. 664)
“The Gospel of John is the most original, the most important, the most influential book in all literature.” (p. 688)
“The opening and closing chapters [of Revelation] are as clear and dazzling as sunlight and furnish spiritual nourishment and encouragement to the plainest Christian; but the intervening visions are, to most readers, as dark as midnight, yet with many stars and the full moon illuminating the darkness.” (p. 827)
“All mathematical calculations about the second advent are doomed to disappointment, and those who want to know more than our blessed Lord knew in the days of his flesh deserve to be disappointed.” (p. 850)
“The secret or open hostility to the supernatural is the moving spring of infidel criticism. We may freely admit that certain difficulties about the time and place of composition and other minor details of the Gospels and Epistles are not, and perhaps never can be, satisfactorily resolved; but it is, nevertheless, true that they are far better authenticated by internal and external evidence than any books of the great Greek and Roman classics, or of Philo and Josephus, which are accepted by scholars without a doubt.” (p. 860)