Genesis, dominion and Copenhagen

By Jonathan Bartley
December 15, 2009

It's appropriate with all that's going on at Copenhagen right now that Bruce Clarke at The Economist has just directed my attention to two short visual essays by American film-maker, Steven Ounanian.

Is the Bible to blame for an over-heated, over-crowded world whose fate hangs in the balance in Copenhagen? Sir David Attenborough caused a small uproar when he told the journal Nature that the Book of Genesis, with its instruction to go forth and multiply and have dominion over the earth, had encouraged human recklessness.

Steven gives an alternative view from a range of scholars, philosophers and commentators (including me). Attenborough was undoubtedly right that some interpretations of Genesis down the centuries must bear responsibility for widespread environmental destruction. But the contributors here offer some different readings of the Creation story, with all its subtle messages about humans, nature and knowledge.

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