One Species Among Millions

Every now and then when I see a story about how we are gradually destroying our planet, I get a bit depressed. When I get angry about this issue I have been known to say that humanity is a destructive infestation of the planet that deserves to be removed so that the myriad other life forms will be left undisturbed to continue their evolution in peace. It is amazing how much destruction so few (humans) can do to the planet.

It seems that since time immemorial man has seen himself as above all other life. Perhaps the only superiority we can claim is intelligence. However, even that is questionable.

Look at all of the stupid things we have done that endanger, not only our existence, but that of all life on earth. Things like creating weapons of mass destruction, releasing toxic chemicals into the environment, putting chemicals in our food, pumping huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the environment while at the same time destroying forests around the world that can mitigate their effects on climate change. It was stupid and irresponsible to have done these things, and even more so for us to allow them to continue.

How is it that we believe we are the most important life form on earth with the most to contribute? We are but one species among millions of others. In terms of population (the total count of individual organisms), we are approximately seven billion among a non-comprehensive estimate of one million billion organisms including mammals, birds, fish, insects, and trees. This estimate is just a sampling and does not include all species in each category and does include reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, other plants, fungi, protozoa, bacteria, and others. We have yet to identify all of the organisms on earth, and we do not understand the importance of the multitude of organisms in the web of life now, or as they continue to evolve over the millennia.

Because humans are by far the minority on this planet, we should bow down with humility before God and the throngs of life all around us that allow us to live among them, and give us sustenance. Surely other organisms have a right to live among us. After all, in reality, the earth belongs to them, not us—humans are a vanishingly small percentage of the world population of organisms. We have no right to alter the course of evolution or to destroy the earth’s natural ecology.

Other organisms are not here for us to exploit or exterminate. All members of the community of life rely on one another in countless, largely unknown ways. We should respect and care for all members of the community. Humans are not above nature; rather they are but one lineage among millions of others who came from the same Source. We embody but one of the many expressions of our Creator reflected in the diversity of life on earth.

Our intelligence and inherent sense of right and wrong should lead us to see ourselves as stewards of the earth and all living things. We should not presume that one life form (including our own) is more important than another. We have been given a sacred trust and responsibility to preserve and protect all life. By doing so, we show love and respect for the Creator of all things.

If we wish to claim a unique intelligence, then we must rise above our own selfish needs, cherish all life, and take responsibility as stewards and protectors of the earth. Only then can we hope to be the species most blessed by God.


Estimates concerning the number of species of plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria on earth range from 8-14 million. Approximately 15,000 new organisms are discovered each year. The New York Times article found here reviews the research behind these estimates.

Data used for aggregate estimates of the population of organisms can be found here


GMOs (genetically modified organisms) Part 3 – Environmental and Spiritual Considerations

Credit: Fishhawk (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: Fishhawk (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

If health and safety are not reasons enough to do whatever is necessary to avoid potentially harmful GM (genetically modified) foods, then environmental and spiritual considerations may provide further impetus. There is a very real threat of GM crops cross pollenating and eventually eliminating unmodified conventional and organic crops. GMOs are already being found in unexpected places near and far from GMO farms (see this article in Scientific American).  Also see section 5.11 of GMO Myths and Truths  for many cases of GMO contamination of native fields and their economic impact.

Action needs to be taken to preserve and protect the genome of natural varieties of plants that were used for genetic modification before it is too late. Remember that the gene modifications in GMOs are irreversible. Should GM varieties eventually supplant the native species, it is unlikely that they can be reverse-engineered to restore the original, native genome of the plant.

DNA, the genetic make-up of organisms contains the instructions for all facets of living things—how they look, how they behave, how the life process functions within, how they reproduce, their function and place in the web of life, and their natural strengths and weaknesses.

All living things are creations of God and as such were created in a specific fashion, for a specific reason, and made to function a certain way in the broader scope of the interconnected ecosystem. Even the weaknesses and limitations of an organism were intentional in order for the organism to best serve its purpose in the global ecology.

Our understanding of the connections between members of the community of life on earth is extremely limited at best, and perhaps more accurately all but non-existent. Our tiny brains cannot begin to comprehend the complexity, interconnectedness, and perfection of creation.

We have proven our ignorance and irresponsibility repeatedly by upsets we have caused in the environment and ecosystem through pollution and by bringing some organisms to extinction, and introducing others to environments where they do not belong. We have raised animals in unnaturally large numbers to feed our appetite resulting in environmental damage such as global warming and health risks such as antibiotic resistant bacterial strains.

The above have occurred primarily due to ignorance, and denial of any negative effects or connections. However, genetic engineering seeks to actually change or modify God’s work. It assumes that we know how to make God’s creations better. This is beyond arrogance and must be an affront to God.

Some might argue that it is acceptable to do genetic engineering because God gave us the intelligence to figure out how to do it. As long as it is used for good, it should not be offensive to Him.

But this misses the point. God gave us intelligence, reason, and conscience so that we can distinguish right from wrong, and recognize the risks and potential consequences of our actions.

In the case of GM plants, where is the good in exposing people to poisons and carcinogens and making them sick? Where is the good in dumping large amounts of herbicides into the environment? Where is the good in an engineered plant whose pollen can be transmitted to native plants by the wind and insects converting them to GMOs and possibly making the native plants extinct? Where is the good in producing genetically altered plants that we may have great difficulty controlling or eliminating (due to herbicide resistance) if we subsequently find them to be a threat to our survival?

This series of articles has attempted to demonstrate that there are serious consequences to producing GM plants from an environmental, human, and spiritual perspective. Companies such as Monsanto that produce and sell GM plants and the herbicides used to farm them continue to deny any dangers and rely on the public’s uninformed or passive acquiescence.

The tragedy is that the greed and irresponsible actions of a few have far-reaching implications for the rest of us and for the planet. We must take action to preserve and protect the natural, God-given make up of all living organisms, and maintain the natural order of the ecosystem. We must protect our families from harm by those who would seek to circumvent nature’s checks and balances for personal gain.

For related articles see:

Nature: A More Expansive Spirituality

An Impediment to Our Spiritual Evolution