In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, introducing the cosmos; for it sets forth in the fewest words the elemental fact that the formation of the created earth lies above and before man, and that therefore it is not man’s but God’s. Man finds himself upon it, with many other creatures, all parts in some system which, since it is beyond man and superior to him, is divine.
Yet the planet was not at once complete when life had appeared upon it. The whirling earth goes through many vicissitudes; the conditions on its fruitful surface are ever-changing; and the forms of life must meet the new conditions: so does the creation continue, and every day sees the genesis in process. All life contends, sometimes ferociously but more often bloodlessly and benignly, and the contention results in momentary equilibriium, one set of contestants balancing another; but every change in the outward conditions destroys the equation and a new status results.
Of all the disturbing living factors, man is the greatest. He sets mighty changes going, destroying forests, upturning the sleeping prairies, flooding the deserts, deflecting the courses of the rivers, building great cities.
He operates consciously and increasingly with plan aforethought; and therefore he carries heavy responsibility.
Man is given the image of the creator, even when formed from the dust of the earth, so complete is his power and so real his dominion: And God blessed them: and God said unto them. Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, but be the responsible steward over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
One cannot receive all these privileges without bearing the obligation to react and to partake, to keep, to cherish, and to co-operate. We have assumed that there is no obligation to an inanimate thing, as we consider the earth to be: but man should respect the conditions in which he is placed; the earth yields the living creature; man is a living creature; science constantly narrows the gulf between the animate and the inanimate, between the organized and the unorganized; evolution derives the creatures from the earth; the creation is one creation.