If punctuation is not used, or if it is misused, then a sentence or phrase can take on a number of meanings. Sometimes, this can cause amusing misunderstandings, as in the famous bad comma in the definition of the panda as an animal that “eats, shoots and leaves,” providing a mental image of the cuddly black-and-white animal discharging a submachine gun before exiting the building!
Sometimes, the absence of punctuation creates a deliberate ambiguity that is required for the author’s multiple meanings. That is the case with the title of this article. The title has also been used for a t-shirt competition that we ran to coincide with Earth Day in 2013. Just to emphasize the multiplicity of meanings, I could rearrange the title, by grouping words together, using single quotes. So, the title could be:
‘God created Earth’ day – a day on which we celebrate the fact that God created the Earth.
God created ‘Earth Day’—implying that the day of celebration itself was created by God.
The main meaning is the former. However, though the concept of Earth Day was placed on the calendar by human beings, one could argue that every day is “the day that the Lord has made.” Therefore, the latter meaning has validity, also.
The concept of Earth Day is closely associated with so-called environmentalism—often referred to as “green” issues. Green thinking influences many people across a wide range of the political spectrum. In its broader sense, it has many positive features. For example, we believe that Genesis 1:28 suggests that we should take care of our world. We should be good stewards over what God has given us. So, unnecessary pollution should be avoided and cleaned up.
However, the concept of green issues is most closely associated in people’s minds with the highly suspect “science” of climate change and anthropogenic global warming (AGW – global warming caused by human activity). History shows us that the Earth’s climate has gone through a range of many natural cycles of warming and cooling. The reliance of energy policymakers on AGW concepts, that rely more on political correctness than genuine science, is coercing many people in very poor countries of the world into further poverty, as they are being prevented from expanding their economies, with power made from readily available fossil fuels. Indeed, a new green morality has developed, which is highly authoritarian and even “puritanical” (using the incorrect negative connotation of that word). For example, it is no longer immoral in the Western world to have multiple sexual partners, but society is highly dogmatically critical of those who drive autos perceived to use too much fuel.
Many of these more critical concepts are evolutionary in influence. They stem, not from a belief that God requires us to be good stewards of the planet, but out of a sort of mythical Gaian connectedness thought to exist between Nature and Humanity. There is something nearly neo-pagan about celebrating an Earth Day, without giving glory to the God who created it. As Psalm 24:1 puts it: “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.”
That is why we are choosing to mark April 22nd as “God Created Earth Day.” If we tidy up our neighborhoods and free them of litter and make our gardens look nice, we should do it to give glory to the Creator. And God Created Earth Day is a wonderful opportunity—which we really should take every day—to tell people how and why Jesus came to save this world from our sins.