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WE SHOULD USE, PRESERVE EARTH

As someone interested in the current Utah wilderness debate, I have finally lost patience with the sanctimonious drivel of those on the fanatical right who are forever claiming it is a divinely revealed truth that the earth and all its creatures were made for the express use of mankind, which they smugly call "wise use" - people of the contrary opinion constantly being labeled by them as "environmental extremists."

In the interest of serious inquiry, I issue them this challenge: Show me in the Bible where it says God created all creatures for the express use of man (or mom liberally, humans). That they are for "meat," we will grant at the outset (Genesis 1:30), but this does not support your case, for it is certainly not a license for despotism. Virtually all creatures live at the expense of other creatures. We are all meat in this sense.Also, we admit "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it" (Genesis 2:15). But as Susan Bratton points out, the verb "abad" translated as "to till" has the connotation not only of work but of service and can be translated as "to serve" or "to be a slave to." The word shamar, "to keep," might also be translated "to watch" or "to preserve."

In light of this, the commandment to subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over it (Genesis 1:28) receives clarification: We are to use it, but we are at the same time to serve it, i.e., to preserve it. And not surprisingly, for it is not ours but God's: "Behold, the heaven . . . is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is" (Deuteronomy 10:14).

Kirk Robinson

Salt Lake City