Hebrews 11:3 [ESV] “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
On the heels of Jeff’s article posted a few weeks ago regarding the New Age, I received a message from a dear brother in my congregation asking if I’d seen the new Julia Roberts video on YouTube. I don’t typically make a habit of searching for Julia Roberts on YouTube so, naturally, I responded in the negative. This video, and ten others, were created and published by an organization known as Conservation International (you may view all eleven in the playlist at the end of this article).
While these short videos are well-produced and entertaining, simply put, they are logically and theologically wrong. Julia Roberts, narrating the Mother Earth video, says, “I have fed species greater than you, and I have starved species greater than you.” Oh really? Logically, there is absolutely no debate that there has never been a greater species than humans. Wesley Smith remarks, “How is that in any way disputable? Humans are exceptional. There has never been another species in the known universe with our capacities, moral sense, rationality, or intelligence.“
What exactly, then, is the purpose of these Nature is Speaking videos? Is this a war on humans? I would submit to you that these videos are yet another saliva projectile aimed directly at the face of our most high and merciful Creator. They are further evidence of lost people acting lost and continuing to suppress in unrighteousness the Truth of the God they know exists. (Romans 1:18) Without a doubt, they serve no purpose other than to demean and mock those who have been mercifully regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
These lost individuals look at everything God has fashioned and, because they hate Him, choose instead to exchange the Truth for a lie and worship and serve the creation instead of the Creator. (Romans 1:25) Should we be good stewards of God’s Earth and the creatures therein? Of course. But do not be so blasphemous as to elevate the clay to a stature above the potter. The fact that such people have not been struck dead from their blasphemy and disrespect is evidence of God’s supreme patience and mercy with we who are at enmity with Him.
The truth is that the mindset behind the creation of this media is nothing new. This type of faulty thinking is the heresy known as Pantheism (not to be confused with Panentheism). In case you are unfamiliar with this term, I’ll take a brief couple paragraphs to explain.
Pantheism is the position that God and nature are the same thing. Pantheism comes from two Greek words, pan meaning ‘all’ and theos meaning ‘god.’ So, it would teach that all the stars, galaxies, planets, mountains, wind, and rain, are all one and the same; part of what God is. So, pantheists would say that all is God. Biblical Christianity teaches that God is separate from his creation and he created it (Gen. 1:1-30), where pantheism says that God and creation share the same nature and essence.1
Further, Pantheism is a subtle form of atheism in that it denies the existence of a God who stands apart from and independent from the existence of the universe. Pantheists believe that what is, is God. Pantheism serves as the philosophic base of classical Hinduism, northern Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Christian Science, Unity, the “mind” cults and the New Age Movement. In its Eastern or Western forms, God is often reduced to an impersonal “it” which forms the basis of the universe. God is referred to as the “force” or “energy” which makes up the world.2 In other words, Pantheism is the belief that God and the universe are identical and that God is not a personality but the expression of the physical forces of nature.3
Pantheism does not say, “The universe is God.” That, in effect, would be atheism. But what it says is, “The universe is a phenomenon, an existence-form of God.” God it regards as the esse, underlying the attributes or conditions; and a “phenomenon,” as its etymology suggests, is a transient form of being “coming into sight.” To illustrate—water is the existence-form of Oxygen and Hydrogen. But these, in their synthesis, may exist as ice or as vapour too. So God, says Pantheism, may have many existence-forms. 4
With the term thoroughly defined, you may be wondering why I would look to refute something that has been thoroughly refuted countless times already. The answer is simple: people are still falling for it and, sadly, a growing number of proclaiming Christians inside the walls of the church are falling prey to this anti-biblical nonsense.
There is a strain of pantheism that is based on the observation that the same matter and energy that makes the universe makes us. We are made by the universe, sustained by the universe, destroyed by the universe, and returned to the universe after we die. The universe is all that exists. Awe, reverence, humility, and respect follow from a proper understanding of the universe. This strain of thought is called scientific pantheism. One major differentiator of scientific pantheism is that it does not deny opposites. Rather, it relies heavily on logic and reason.5 This is the brand of pantheism presented in the Conservation International videos.
So, what’s the big deal? Why is pantheism heretical?
First and foremost, pantheism says that since all is God, and man is part of all, then man is God. That is heresy. Men are not God.
Further, pantheism is the supposition behind many cults and false religions (e.g., Hinduism and Buddhism to an extent, the various unity and unification cults, and “mother nature” worshipers). Does the Bible teach pantheism? No, it does not. What many people confuse as pantheism is the doctrine of God’s omnipresence. Psalm 139:7–8 declares, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” God’s omnipresence means He is present everywhere. There is no place in the universe where God is not present. This is not the same thing as pantheism. God is everywhere, but He is not everything. Yes, God is “present” inside a tree and inside a person, but that does not make that tree or person God.
Pantheism is not at all a biblical belief. The clearest biblical arguments against pantheism are the countless commands against idolatry. The Bible forbids the worship of idols, angels, celestial objects, items in nature, etc. If pantheism were true, it would not be wrong to worship such an object, because that object would, in fact, be God. If pantheism were true, worshiping a rock or an animal would have just as much validity as worshiping God as an invisible and spiritual being. The Bible’s clear and consistent denunciation of idolatry is a conclusive argument against pantheism.6
Again, pantheism is heresy.
Let us, then, direct our attention to the videos themselves. I just spent over 1,200 words explaining what pantheism is and why it’s heretical because I have seen more than a dozen brothers and sisters in Christ sharing these productions using descriptors like, “cool”, “so artistic”, “I love Julia Roberts”, “God is great”, and on and on. I truly believe this stems from a basic lack of knowledge of Scripture, but in the eyes of the Father, the ignorant are not excused.
Julia Roberts narrates Part 1, as “Mother Nature” who is self-aware, has cognitive function, transcends mankind and can communicate. In other words, a form of Deity. An excerpt from this video reads,
“I’ve been here for eons. I have fed species greater than you. And I have starved species greater than you.”
Name one. We are the top of the heap! Humans are the greatest species to ever exist. Why? Because we are made in the image of God, imago dei. As I mentioned in the second paragraph of this article, there is absolutely no debate that there has never been a greater species than humans.
“MY oceans. MY soil. MY flowing streams. MY forests. They all can take you or leave you.”
Christine Pack, of the recently defunct SolaSisters.com, said “I’m a former hard-core, Militant Eco-Greenie, so I know this worldview that these actors are giving voice to from the inside. But these are scary videos!”7
For all the reasons listed above, I could not agree more! Mrs. Roberts also narrates,
“I’ve been here for over four and a half billion years.“
Anyone ever observe that? As Todd Friel rightly observed, “So, Mother Nature knows more than we do because she doesn’t actually exist. She’s an inanimate object but she’s older than we are by a lot. So, yea.“8
In the second video, Harrison Ford speaking as “The Ocean” says,
“Humans? They’re no different (from any other creature on the earth). I don’t owe them a thing. I give. They take. But I can always take back. That’s the way it’s always been. It’s not their planet anyway. Never was, never will be. But humans, they take more than their share… I’m only going to say this once, if nature isn’t kept healthy, humans won’t survive.“
Again, in this video, an aspect or object in nature as been assigned cognitive function and is self-aware. As I outlined above, this is rank pantheism. Further, there is an overriding hatred of man that is proudly, arrogantly proclaimed.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, beware of pantheism, for it is a lie through which the devil causes many people all over the world to worship the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, and also some animals and trees, and even some human beings, who are considered God. We can say that pantheism leads people to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator who is blessed forever. In other words, as mentioned previously, pantheism leads people to idolatry, and as you know the Scripture says that idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).[X. Butindaro, Giacinto. “Pantheism refuted.” He Who Has Ears Let Him Hear. 10 Aug. 2010. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.]
These videos are well-produced and voiced by Hollywood heavy-hitters, but their message mocks the triune God and his deity. And as Paul reminds us in his letter to the Galatians, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
The Conservation International video playlist (exercise biblical discernment while viewing):
- Slick, Matt. “What Is Pantheism?” CARM. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. ↩
- Morey, R. A. (1989). How to keep your faith while in college (pp. 31–32). Iowa Falls, IA: World Bible Publishers. ↩
- Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on New Age Spirituality: A New Mask for an Old Message (p. 4). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart. ↩
- Salmond, C. A. (2009). Princetoniana: Charles & A. A. Hodge, with class and table talk of Hodge the younger. (pp. 148–149). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. ↩
- Powell, D. (2006). Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics. Nashville, TN: Holman Reference. ↩
- Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software. ↩
- Pack, Christine. “Hollywood Actors Give Voice To Nature in Anti-Human Video Series.” Sola Sisters. 17 Feb. 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2015. ↩
- Friel, Todd. “Wretched Radio, Hour 2.” Wretched Radio. National Religious Broadcasters. Atlanta, GA, 23 Mar. 2015. Radio. ↩