And with this growth in awareness we have developed greater understanding of our role in the natural life of our small planet and our essential responsibility for our actions. Essential not simply to preserve our own fragile existence in this immense treasure-house of living creatures, but also to preserve this almost infinitely varied life-support system upon which we depend for the necessities of life in a very large, cold and forbidding universe which is devoid of perceptible life everywhere but here on Earth.
The Bible tells us Noah was commanded to take with him on his Ark two of every creature, male and female, that they might be saved along with Noah's family from the Flood. The Spirit helping Noah to survive knew that Noah and his family alone would not be enough to support their continued lives after the waters receded. Every creature and all the generations of its offspring would be necessary to maintain life on Earth and to fulfill any future planned for Noah's succeeding generations. Without even the smallest creature in the oceans, the plankton, humanity would be doomed.
And now, in the twenty-first century, we can see the wisdom of that command. Even to our dawning comprehension, the absolute necessity of a diverse biological system to support life can be measured and proven to the most devout skeptic. The chain of life cannot be broken and endure.
However, we have also discovered that many keystone species are on the edge of extinction. So we have brought back the wolf, the herdsman's enemy. We have brought many animals back from the edge of extinction, but many are dying out now and many have gone forever. Not merely for our own well-being, but that the immense network of life might continue, that humanity may benefit not only physically but spiritually from insuring the continuity of life on this planet we can see it is necessary to further all life everywhere.
We have created tragic disasters and literally millions of dead where we can no longer afford to do so. We have wiped the great oceans nearly clean of fish in many of the formerly most abundant fisheries. The Cod is nearly gone. The Salmon are threatened. The once teeming oceans are now a desert. Many other species hang on the edge of continued existence.
Humans are too efficient as hunters and fishermen for our own good. We have upset the balances of Nature between prey and predator. We have killed every last one of many species. Our fishing has denuded the oceans, our hunting has made the earth barren. Not only the Cedars of Lebanon are gone, but the Amazon Forests and the Jungles of Africa and Borneo are disappearing.
Not merely polluting our waters beyond drinkability, we have drenched them with nutrients from factory farms and chemicals from pharmaceuticals and pesticides to petroleum and plastic. Our industries release hundreds of tons of heavy metals including mercury into our air each year. In bringing back the deer, we have also brought ticks that carry fatal diseases. Millions of people, too, die from Nature out of balance, polluted water, earth and air. Humans have overwhelmed our life support destructively to the point we ourselves are threatened. But it is not only our physical lives that are threatened.
If we are to grow into our inheritance in the functional image of our Creator, our spiritual lives must be taken into account. If we are to be the protector and not the destroyer of life, the natural world of nearly infinite abundance must not suffer under our stewardship. To survive we must be provident, not parasitic. If we are to dress the garden according to Genesis, we must outgrow the activities which have enabled us to get where we are and only now to see that we need Nature more than she needs us. Thoughtless and indiscriminate harvesting of our oceans has brought them to the brink of being deserted of life. Raising cattle from European ranges has been destroying the ecology of our own Great Plains. Careless discharge of the by-products of production has made our land and water unlivable.
The habitual unloosing of millions of tons of lead bullets every year, which pollute those animals we eat as well as those who scavenge on our kills, threatens the healthy development of our own children in addition to poisoning our life support. A simple change from lead to copper would help alleviate that threat.
But in the final analysis, the end of hunting on wild lands and the end of taking wild fish is the only cure for the death of our ecology. We are just too good at what we do for Nature to suckle us into adulthood. We have grown teeth, we are biting the nipple.
In the future we will see the end of hunting and fishing in the wild. Not merely because it will enable humanity to survive physically, but because we are better than merely a creature who sees killing as sport, who needs to kill to live, who must convert every living thing into cash profit or food on the table. And we need to be better than that if we, ourselves, are to endure. Our growing understanding has led us to the brink of maturity and far beyond Darwin's "Nature red in tooth and claw".
Because we do not live by bread alone, but by the eternal spirit within us. The commandment to tend the garden and dress it cannot be denied if we are to live in the image of our Creator. And there is no other option, no enduring life without the spirit. Either our species will go back into the mud and dust whence we came because we have wasted our sustenance and failed our destiny or we will ascend into the stars as the truly wise and consciously human beings we were created to be and save this precious garden forever.