Inspired and Blessed by Bob Acebedo
Inspired & Blessed

‘Dominion’ is stewardship, not exploitation

Feb 24, 2024, 1:00 AM
Bob Acebedo

Bob Acebedo


The biblical book of Genesis (1:28) says that Adam, the first human, who was created to dwell in paradise, is told by God that he has “dominion” over what God has created. However, such “dominion or mastery over creation” cannot be construed as humans having the unrestrained upper hand in harnessing or exploiting our natural creation.

Sadly, however, this wrong notion of “dominion” is inescapably palpable in our contemporary scheme of things, that indeed our mother Earth is being grossly abuse, despoiled – if not “raped” – and sacrificed at the altar of profit accumulation.

Verily, there’s no escaping the stern warning from the Cree Indian prophecy:

“Only after the last tree has been cut down; only after the last river has been poisoned; only after the last fish has been caught; only then will you find out that MONEY CANNOT BE EATEN (underscoring mine).”

Pope Francis’ encyclical, “Laudato Si (On Care For Our Common Home)” is unequivocal in stressing that it is our moral obligation as humans to care for our environment:

“We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (Gen. 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.”

From the theological perspective, hence, it is clear that the biblical “dominion” is aptly understood as man being a “responsible steward of God’s creation” and therefore has the moral duty to “serve and love, take care and offer all creation back to him” (Catechism of the Catholic Church or CCC #358).

This idea is as well resonated by existentialist philosopher Martin Heidegger who describes human as a “being-in-the-world”, and this entails having the wholeness of vision that allows a “caring and responsible” relationship with the world and natural environment.

In sum, the proper relationship between humans and nature is not dualistic, but holistic – that is, human beings are an integral part of nature, and nature is an integral part of humans. So, instead of being a relationship of “survival of the fittest” or the domination of one species over the rest, the relationship ought to be reciprocal and holistic in which all aspects or part-members of creation are preserved, protected and co-exist in harmony.

After all, we are all sailing in just one and the same boat, the Earth.

In closing, it is worth quoting Pope Francis’ Earth Day celebration message:

“The Earth is an environment to be safeguarded, a garden to be cultivated. The relationship of mankind with nature should not be guided by greed, by manipulation and exploitation, but it must preserve the divine harmony that exists between creatures and creation with respect and care, so that it can be put to the service of our brothers, and also future generations.”

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