ELEPHANTS slaughtered for their ivory tusks until threatened with extinction. Exotic birds smuggled for trade, many perishing en route. Sea mammals entangled in abandoned fishing nets and drowned. How can we stop this sad -- and ecologically unsound -- destruction of earth's creatures? However magnificent, beautiful, or powerful a species is, environmentalists warn, these qualities cannot ensure its survival in the face of human destructiveness. Yet we also see many evidences of mankind's concern for animals. Many individuals support environmental organizations, aid animals in need, take an interest in the welfare of all creatures from condors to whales.
These efforts are laudable, certainly, but sometimes seem to be having limited impact on an urgent situation. We can, however, increase the effectiveness of our efforts by basing our actions on a fuller understanding of God, Spirit, as the source of creation. ``The earth is the Lord's,'' says the Psalmist, ``and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.''1 The variety and richness we see on earth hint at the fullness of God's enduring creation. God, divine Spirit, upholds all His creatures. His creation is totally spiritual. Prayer enables us to witness His sustaining power more consistently in our lives, and this includes bringing to light practical means of helping to preserve life.
Many have loved the familiar story of Noah and the ark.2 We might think of the ark, which sheltered Noah, his family, and earth's animals from cataclysmic floods, as representing the God-given safety that is the birthright of all His offspring. Similarly today, the safety of all creation can be perceived as our prayer makes us increasingly aware of God's saving power.
Christian Science explains that all God's creatures reflect Him and are actually spiritual. This understanding enables us to see beyond the limited view of creatures as vulnerable to random destruction. God's power, beauty, and grandeur, which His creation expresses, are enduring. And when we acknowledge the imperishability of these God-derived qualities in prayer we are helping to build an ark of safety to protect the earth and its inhabitants.
One of the greatest threats to wildlife is generally seen to be the growing human population. But when we see that God's care is not given to some and withheld from others, we realize that there need not be a hopeless struggle for limited resources in which animals and their habitats are the first to lose. In fact, acknowledging God's care for all His creatures assures us that His resources are ample for all His creation. As we use these spiritual resources wisely, we are led to discover new sources of supply.
When destruction of animals stems from wantonness or greed, mankind is harmed too. Indifference and cruelty, however, are not natural to humanity. The actual nature of man, God's likeness, is spiritual and good. As we begin to understand that the real man is pure and harmless, we become freer to cherish the beauty, power, and grandeur of animals, because these spiritual qualities are quickened within ourselves.
In truth all God's offspring reflect His immortality, are safe in His care. Prayer that uplifts thought to God, the divine, creative Principle, enables us to feel His shelter. It builds an ark. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, spiritually defines ark in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Part of this definition is: ``Safety; the idea, or reflection, of Truth, proved to be as immortal as its Principle; the understanding of Spirit, destroying belief in matter.''3
God's spiritual creation endures in all its fullness and perfection. And our prayerful efforts to align our own thought with God's saving power can bring to light measures through which all living things will dwell together in greater harmony. For example, endangered animals have been successfully introduced into new habitats: peregrine falcons have multiplied amid skyscrapers and black rhinoceroses on ranches.
Christ Jesus made God's protecting love for His creation evident in his healing ministry. He ended suffering and brought freedom and wholeness. Divine Love, to which he bore witness, is universal. Not one sparrow is forgotten by God, Jesus said.4 As we understand that all living things are supported by divine Love itself, we build a spiritual shelter that includes all. We see more evidence on earth that living creatures are wisely and successfully cared for. It is God who is the source of creation, and He is able to preserve in safety and harmony every one of His offspring.
1Psalms 24:1, 2. 2See Genesis, chapters 6-8. 3Science and Health, p. 581. 4See Luke 12:6.
BIBLE VERSE And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Genesis 1:25, 26