I’m not a huge Richard Dawkins fan. I think he’s a brilliant biologist, and I applaud his efforts to increase science education. I’m also sure that if we ever had the chance to talk over coffee, we would have a good conversation. Yet I think he relies on the old “I’m right, you’re wrong, get used to it” mentality way too much. From what I’ve read from him and seen on YouTube, he tends to think that anyone who believes in any kind of higher power without any piece of objective truth is automatically an idiot.
Having said all that, though, I did read something of his years ago that I haven’t stopped thinking about since then.
While explaining evolution in his book The Magic of Reality, Dawkins writes:
Although we may lack the fossils to tell us exactly what our very ancient ancestors looked like, we are in no doubt at all that all living creatures are our cousins, and cousins of each other. And we also know which modern animals are close cousins of each other (like humans and chimpanzees, or rats and mice), and which are distant cousins of each other (like humans and cuckoos, or mice and alligators). How do we know? By systematically comparing them. Nowadays, the most powerful evidence comes from comparing their DNA. 
This may sound strange, but this reminds me of the creation account in Genesis chapter 2. Most people think the first two chapters of Genesis tell the same creation account, but they don’t. In the second chapter, man is the first living being God creates “from the soil of the ground” (7) to tend to all the plants of the Earth. The man is lonely, so God creates all of the animals out of the same ground Adam originally came from (19).
Of course, I don’t believe Genesis is a science book. I don’t mean to say that we all literally came from the ground. But I do find it interesting that both scientific fact and the creation allegory found in scripture both tell us that humans and animals are made of the same stuff. Think about that for a moment: we are more connected to animals and other human beings than we think.
But our interconnectedness doesn’t end with just DNA. According to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson:
. . . the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool. That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe; we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us. 
So there you have it. To borrow a phrase from Carl Sagan, we are made of nature stuff. Our goal isn’t to “pass through Nature, beyond her,” in the words of CS Lewis.  We are nature.
So what does this mean? To me, it means two things: 1). We need to do a hell of a lot better job at taking care of the planet, and 2). We need to do a hell of a lot better job at loving each other. Going back to what I said earlier, Adam’s first job was to tend the Garden of Eden. So contrary to popular belief, this new ‘creation care’ movement isn’t all that new. We just got it wrong about the whole “dominion over the animals thing.” When scripture says we have dominion over the planet, it does not mean we have the freedom to abuse it. As Jonathan Merritt explains:
The Hebrew word for “rule over” or “dominion” literally means to exercise a given authority over something. This word can be used to describe priests executing their duties or shepherds taking care of their sheep but is most often used to refer to the power of kings over their subjects. 
Now that may not sound like much of an improvement, but let me explain. Throughout Scripture, the kings of Israel act more like caretakers than dictators. According to Merritt, “When an Israelite king abused his dominion—when he got greedy, oppressed the people, or enslaved his subjects—God would judge and punish him.” Now I’m not saying God is going to strike you dead if you throw a recyclable item into the garbage can, but if we are called to be caretakers of the planet, and if abusive caretakers make God mad, how do you think God feels about the way we abuse Earth?
As far as loving each other, well, that should be obvious. If we all share star stuff and DNA, then that should automatically make us want to be more compassionate, right? We’re all connected. We’re all related. Why wouldn’t that make you want to take better care of your fellow human?
Alfred North Whitehead once said, “All actual entities are drops of experience, complex and interdependent.” And science proves this. Now the question is, “What are you going to do now?”
1. Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True (New York: Free Press, 2011), 50.
3. C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses (New York: Harper Collins, 1949), 44.
4. Jonathan Merritt, Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet (New York: Faith Words, 2010), 45.
6. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: Free Press, 1979), 18.