My least favorite animal

Recently, I was watching a landscape photographer on YouTube. He was shooting on location in a wilderness area of America’s desert southwest. His love for nature was obvious and I appreciated his enthusiasm for capturing and sharing it.

He loves the outdoors, as I do, and makes time regularly to experience and enjoy it. No doubt he is a responsible hiker and camper, leaving areas he explores in the same or better condition than he found them.

At one point, he came across (apparently) some litter or garbage or other unfortunate evidence that humans were camping in a particularly remote area. Whatever they left behind shouldn’t have been there. Someone was not being as responsible as he had been.

As you might imagine, this was a source of great frustration for him. Eventually he made a statement I’ve been thinking about almost every day since: “this is why humans are my least favorite animal.”

You could be forgiven for believing this was a poor attempt at humor. Judging by his demeanor, the tone of his voice, and previous sentiments expressed on his channel, I disagree. The disdain he evidenced was unmistakeable.

I don’t wish to reveal any more of this man’s identity. My purpose is not to call him out personally, but rather to address his statement and discuss an alternate worldview.

He is not expressing an opinion that is unique. I have personal relationships with nature-loving people who regard humans as invaders. We are both part of nature – animals (they say) – and also the defilers and defacers of it.

They describe the wild places of earth as “pristine.” They are speaking only of those habitats that are void of human development or dwelling. And when humans arrive, they encroach upon and endanger the purity of these places.

As a person who tries to address every human dilemma with a Biblical worldview, I must object to sentiments of this sort.

Let it be said, first, that I believe men are stewards of God’s creation. There are no excuses for wanton destruction. In fact, I think setting aside preserves and having protected wilderness areas is a good idea.

Litter is bad. Dumping garbage in the wilderness should be consequenced. Cruelty, lack of regard, irresponsibility, and selfishness are wrong.

I also believe that, while sinful, human beings are precious. We are not animals. We are made in the image of God, with eternal souls, distinct from all animals, possessing unique intellect, language, and creativity.

God sent His son to die for people!

Earth, on the other hand, is passing away. Plants, insects, and animals will pass away with it. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. The creation we enjoy today will be destroyed.

If the well being of people and the well being of trees, plants, and animals are ever in conflict, people must be considered first.

As a nature photographer myself, I am repelled by the evidence of man’s sin in our jungles and on our beaches. Garbage dumping is illegal but common on our island. Dumpers are committing sin.

If I am thinking Biblically when I find their trash, I should be reminded of man’s depravity, of God’s love, and of the eternal salvation offered in Christ. I should remember that the earth is cursed, but that man can live eternally with God.

My love for people should far surpass any love I have for mountains and rivers, animals and plants. God requires this. This is right.