||Chief of Security, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang)
Do we thank ‘Mother Earth’, as Avatar suggests?
James Cameron’s 2009 movie Avatar combined an immensely popular
‘Pocahontas-type’ narrative and eye-popping visuals to drive home
his perspective on, as he put it, “the detrimental effect that man has
on his environment when driven by greed and power.”
Movie critics and movie goers are divided about the reasons for its
popularity, but with over $2.6 billion in revenue, and still earning, Avatar
has become the most successful movie in history. Certainly, the universal
popularity of Avatar’s ‘green’ message is not
Mankind’s duty to wisely manage our environment, not pillage it, was
instituted by our Creator from the beginning and is written on our conscience.
In the first chapter of Genesis, God made Adam and Eve in His image or nature,
and delegated to them rule or dominion “over all the earth”. Then
He commended them to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth
and subdue it” in accordance with His nature, which is both just and
loving. However, Avatar’s message goes far beyond wise stewardship of
The movie suggests that we have nature to worship and thank for our existence,
a belief that has been part of indigenous cultures for centuries. Similarly,
many people in contemporary society do not believe in a Creator God, but
believe nature itself is god. Rejecting the God of the Bible, they venerate
‘Mother Earth’ or the universe as their creator, rather than
attributing its glory to the character of the true and living Creator God.
Some say: “if there is a God then why does He not just appear in front
of me and then I will believe”. God has said in the book of
Romans Chapter 1, verses 20-23:
“For since the creation of the world God’s
invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature — have
been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are
without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God
nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish
hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and
exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal
man and birds and animals and reptiles.”
In Biblical times, people worshipped carved images of people or creatures from
wood, stone or precious metals. Today more and more people have elevated
nature to the position of God. Is there truly any difference between these two
positions? Man continues to exchange the person of God and embrace that which
was made by God. It is the trap of worshipping the gift of creation rather
than the Creator.
This is spelt out for us in the Ten Commandments when God said in the book of
Exodus chapter 20, verses 3-4;
“I am the Lord your God… You shall
have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image [to
What is intrinsic to these commandments is that mankind is created to worship
God, but if we choose not to we will inevitably worship something. Not only
that, we will create a god of our own making and give it the glory, honour and
power that is due only to the God who made us.
Since nature has been elevated to the position of god or ‘our spiritual
mother’, it is not unexpected that many are devoted to protecting and
preserving nature while side-lining, even ignoring, the desperate needs of
people in this world. There is no logic in worshipping something that requires
us to protect it. When we look into God’s word, we will realise that our
Creator God does not need our help to preserve Him but we actually need His
help to rescue us from the consequences of our rebellion against Him.
God gifted us this world for us to enjoy, and so we will see His character in
what He has created — not forgetting that Adam and Eve’s rebellion
in the beginning introduced sin and suffering into the world. Since then, He
has been continually reaching out to rescue us. He gave us a Saviour, the
God-man Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our rejection of Him, and if we
will believe in Jesus, we will have the gift of eternal life.
We may try to preserve nature, but in the end every one of us will perish.
Jesus, God the Son, holds out His hand to every one of us, declaring,
“God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever
believes in Him
should not perish but have ever-lasting life”
(John chapter 3, verse 16).