Religions of the World and Ecology home

Calvin B. DeWitt is Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison Wisconsin and Director of Au Sable Institute in Michigan, an Institute that serves 80 Christian colleges and Universities in Canada and the U.S. with courses in ecology and environmental stewardship. He is a member of the University of Wisconsin graduate faculties of Land Resources, Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development, Water Resources Management, and Oceanography and Limnology, and a Fellow of the University of Wisconsin Teaching Academy. DeWitt also has been chair of the Christian Environmental Council and a member of the International Religion & Science Scholars Group, Center for Theological Inquiry, Princeton. He is author of papers in physiological ecology, wetland ecology, ecosystem modeling; editor of The Environment and the Christian (Baker Books, 1991), and, with Sir Ghillean T. Prance, Missionary Earthkeeping (Mercer University Press, 1992). His recent books are Earth-Wise: A Biblical Response to Environmental Issues (CRC Publications, 1994) and Caring for Creation (Baker, 1998).


Abstract of paper given at Christianity and Ecology conference:
Behemoth and Batrachians in the Eye of God: Responsibility to Otherkind in Biblical Perspective

In Christianity, the value of creatures derives ultimately not from their utility, market price, cuteness, or charm. Instead their value derives from their Creator. Creator-based value has profound consequences. Beyond human use and caring that may be elicited from esthetic and practical benefits of creatures in a two-party human-creature relationship, an additional dimension may be elicited in a three-party human-creature-Creator relationship. This is a dimension of respect and love for the Creator that confers intrinsic value to the creatures. The invitation to Job to behold uncomely beasts through the eye of God illustrates this. In beholding Behemoth and Batrachians in the manner God would have us do, we discover the beauty, integrity, and habitat fitness for what at first glance we might have declared ugly. In what we might have seen as an attractive target for our arrow or bullet we find a creature so marvelously made and fitted into its habitat that it can be taken only by its Maker. Based on this respect, people would work to con-serve the creatures, hold them and their habitats together, assure their periodic self-enjoyment and rest, rescue them from human onslaughts, and restore the rescued to full and fruitful life. In so doing, they would mirror the One by and for whom all things were created.

Back to Christianity and Ecology conference participants

Back to Judaism and Ecology conference participants