Theoecology Journal
Charlie Darwin vs Dr. George

Description

The Theoecologyjournal is open access, peer reviewed web-journal that seeks to bridge the gap between the sciences and theology by promoting dialogue and charitable interaction amongst researchers, students, and professors. Please visit The Journal’s Core Values to better understand the unique framework to which this journal ascribes. The Theoecologyjournal is copyrighted and may be used in digital and print format as long as proper methods of citation are utilized. Please see the letter on copyright and manuscripts for guidelines pertaining to the submission of papers. If you would like to submit an article please visit HERE. Additionally, you will want to review theEditorial White Paper before submitting an article.

Editorial Board

Dr. Robert George,
Theoecology Journal Director
Raleigh, NC

Dr. Dwayne Milioni,
Open Door Baptist Church
Raleigh, NC

Dr. Bruce Little,
Center for Faith and Culture,
Raleigh, NC

Dr. Craig Bartholomew,
Redeemer University,
Ontario, Canada

Mr. Michael Schut,
Office, Presiding Bishop
of Episcopal Church

Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger,
Hope College,
Holland, Michigan

Mr. Tom Rowley,
Director, A Rocha USA,
Frederickburg, TX

Dr. Bruce Ashford,
Dean of College, SEBTS

Dr. Norman Wirzba,
Divinity School,
Duke University

Dr. Reggie Harrell,
Environmental Science,
University of Maryland

Dr. Rusty Pritchard,
“Flourish”, Atlanta, GA.

Dr. Dyron Daughrity,
Pepperdine University,
Malibu, CA

Falls Lake Christian Stewardship Symposium, held on May 6 & 7, 2012 at the North Wake Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina was indeed an unique event since the conference brought under the roof of God’s House leading theologians and outstanding ecologists to give a critical evaluation to assess the health of Falls Lake and recommend environmental ethical actions to restore the lake to a healthy ecosystem. Our goal was to establish the truth that Falls Lake is really a troubled water body that provides drinking water to half a million citizens with costly treatment facilities that are efficiently operated by the City of Raleigh. Nevertheless, as clearly elucidated by Prof. JoAnn Burkholder, in her paper presented in the symposium, Falls Lake is virtually dying, with nearly 66% of the lake in either hypoxic or anoxic condition. The papers, presented by theologians, appealed for developing Environmental Virtue Ethics (EVE) for swift restoration of the lake to allow Baptism in the lake, swimming, kayaking, boating, wildlife observations and camping for family recreation in the Falls Lake.

Symposium Papers

Parables of Environmental Kudzu by John. A. Baden
I begin my talk with a question: Is environmentalism the kudzu invader of Christianity in the western world? Most Christians agree green symbolizes the renewal of vegetation and the promise of new life. Southern Baptists may be surprised that for more than half the year in many Protestant andCatholic churches green is the liturgical color. In sum, green has a rich and honorable tradition in Christianity. Now, however, we see a new shade of Green, one identified with the Gaia hypothesis rather than the Holy Bible.

A Dialogue Between A Scientist-Believer and A Theologian-Philosopher by Robert Y. George and Bruce A. Little.
This “Town-Hall Dialogue” comprises six key-questions posed by a scientist/believer to a theologian, followed by six key-questions posed by a theologian to a scientist-believer. The verbal responses by these two scholars expose some crucial issues that deal with “Tragedy of the Commons” and “Uniqueness of Man”, with implicit human responsibility for prudent and sustainable stewardship of God’s Creation and Created order on ‘Planet Earth’.

Church-based Christian Creation Stewardship for Falls Lake, North Carolina: A New Approach for Knowing God as Creator and Plans for Pastor Interviews Extending to Coastal Counties by Robert Y. George.
The results of the Listening Project (LP) clearly reveal that the grass-root church- based approach for restoring the ecosystems of Falls Lake may lead to the first step in ecological restoration by Raleigh city, Wake county and NC state government. The proposed “Action Plan” will minimize the fate of Fall Lake in moving toward a “Tragedy of the Commons” scenario Falls Lake must be viewed as God’s property, and people should have “dominion” but not domination over the lake ecosystems. With seed money from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, GIBS (George Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability) imitated this project in the Fall 2011 and interviewed 10 pastors of conservative Christian protestant Churches of Baptist, Lutheran and Presbyterian denominations. Pastors were posed with twelve questions that revolve around the Biblical concept of “Dominion”, as narrated in Genesis chapter 1. The Biblical concept of “Dominion” was elucidated in a paper by Milioni and George (2013), presented by Pastor Dwayne Milioni in the Falls Lake Symposium held on May 6 and 7, 2012 at the North Wake Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Why Care for Stewardship for North Carolina Wildlife and Biodiversity by Clarence E. Styron
There are any number of reasons why we should care for stewardship of North Carolina wildlife and biodiversity, and many will be covered at this symposium. Three that come to my mind immediately are the following: personal, scientific and theological. On a personal level, simply watching and photographing wildlife can be very rewarding. Diversity is important when you are a consumer of wildlife, whether for personal use or in commerce. Our health and wellbeing, as well as that of wildlife, depend on good quality of the environment. The scientific literature on benefits of biodiversity is very extensive. The advantage of diversity of species lies in increased stability and survival of a biological community or ecosystem that includes different natural communities. The study of ecology suggests that we should have a healthy respect for all forms of life, from microbial to higher predatory mammals like gray fox and black bear that inhabit the Outer Banks environment. The concept of stewardship dates from the beginning of time when God entrusted the earth to Adam and Eve and their offspring. We are to use and care for it for His glory. Man has dominion over the earth and the environment, but he is not sovereign over it. God is. Wildlife in North Carolina faces increasing challenges and impending threats with sea-level increase and abrupt outburst of hurricanes like Irene in 2011. The cooperation of an informed citizenry is required to carry out the charge to care for God’s creation. Our Wildlife Education Centers in the NCWRC (North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission) conduct a comprehensive and continuing wildlife education program to enlist North Carolina citizens and out-of-state tourists to learn about our natural resources and to encourage our youth, in particular, to be stewards of wildlife in the future. These stewardship efforts will help to safeguard our rich natural resources.

Ancient Wisdom for A Current Crisis: Sacramental Ontology and Ecology by Donnie McDaniel
I am going to give great hostages to fortune with these remarks, because I am going to lean on the ontology of the Patristics and Scholastics to formulate a Christian approach to valuing nature.1 It will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the conversation between Christianity and ecology that neither the Patristic Fathers nor the Scholastic Masters are considered as valuable resources for many current ecotheologians.2 In fact, many theologians and ecotheologians have dismissed the Fathers and Scholastics as sources of Platonizing dualism that blocks the rich, biblical teaching on nature’s value from view.3 For example,noted ecotheologian Michael Northcott claims that creation’s redemption recedes from view early on in Church Father’s works, especially in the thought of St. Athanasius of Alexandria.4 This claim about the Fathers is also supported by church historians like Jaroslav Pelikan who identifies Platonic and Neo-Platonic thought at work in multiple Christian doctrines that emerged in the Patristic era.5 This paper will contend that this familiar picture of the Great Tradition’s theology is ill conceived and is built upon a shallow understanding of their worldview, especially their participatory ontology.6 Rather than being the source of a theological drift that robs creation of significant value, the ontology of the Great Tradition gives creation a lasting value because the Patristics and Scholastics ground creation’s existence in the life of God. This paper will, therefore contend that the ontology of the Great Tradition can provide an excellent way for Christians to understand creation’s value. St. Thomas Aquinas gives us some insight into the Great Tradition’s ontology and the value of creation that is derivative of it: Since all creatures, even those devoid of understanding, are ordered to God as an ultimate end, all achieve this end to the extent that they participate somewhat in his likeness. Intellectual creatures attain it in a more special way, that is, through their proper operation in understanding him. Hence this must be the end of the intellectual creature, namely, to understand God.

Environmental Virtue Ethics: Pursuing Ecological Virtue Through Theological Perspectives by Seth Bible
The thesis of this paper is that a viable, distinctively Christian version of environmental virtue ethics (EVE) must be grounded in the nature of God, guided by moral norms revealed in Scripture, and teleologically focused on God‘s glory. Evidence will be presented to defend the proposition that the most influential writers in the popular and growing field of EVE do not adequately ground, derive, or direct their ethical systems in ways that are adequate for a distinctively Christian environmental ethic. The methodology used to demonstrate this thesis will be in the form of critical analysis applied to the ethical systems of current EVE writers with a specific focus on the ontological, epistemological and teleological components of their comprehensive environmental ethical systems. Finally, the purpose of this presentation will be twofold: First, to promote increased Christian engagement in this up and coming segment of environmental ethics and, two, to offer a platform for further work in the field of EVE that promotes not only a guide to normative behavior but also instruction on character formation as it relates to caring for God‘s created order. This purpose will be accomplished with the presentation of six premises which are reflective of several of the most important points of departure in the current EVE discussions. These premises combine the ontological, epistemological, and teleological conclusions of a historically biblical approach to virtue theory with the strengths of prominent EVE writers to provide Christians with a viable starting point for cultural engagement. This will not be an exhaustive meta-ethical system but rather a beginning foundation, which can serve as a normative guide for a more thorough treatment.

F.A.I.T.H.: Fellowship Actions Impacting the Habitat by Fred Harris
The North Carolina Wildlife Federation is dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and wildlife habitats. The Federation’s F.A.I.T.H. program is a non- denominational initiative designed to recognize and certify places of worship that meet crucial requirements for a wildlife-friendly habitat. The initiative is designed to encourage ongoing stewardship of our wildlife and wild places in urban, suburban and rural settings and in doing so, help foster an appreciation and awareness of nature. The program is adaptable to opportunities afforded by diverse locations and land types. The Federation has developed guidelines to assist local congregations in developing wildlife habitat conservation plans that are consistent with available sites and resources. The Site Assessment is the first step. This is an opportunity to look at the property and determine what components of a wildlife-friendly habitat are already present and what components will need to be added. Assessing the property will help determine what projects need to be done first, as well as what projects the F.A.I.T.H. team will want to accomplish in subsequent years. The next step is to prioritize project goals and develop specific projects for the initial year and future years on the site. Upon completion of the plan congregations may apply for certification of their church property by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation as a wildlife friendly property.

Impact of Falls Lake Impaired Water Quality on Reservoir’s Fish Populations by Scott Van Horn
As concern over reversing the long term water quality decline in Falls Lake intensifies, there is little information suggesting a concurrent decline in resident fish populations. Recent NC Wildlife Resources Commission studies (Rundle, pers. com. and NCWRC 2007) suggest quality largemouth bass and crappie populations are still present in the reservoir. Craig Holt (2012) with Game and Fish Magazine includes Falls Lake in his article entitled “7 North Carolina bass hotspots you don’t want to miss” and Hall, Jones, and Blitz (2012) rank Falls Lake 44th in the nation in their Bassmaster Magazine article “100 best bass lakes”. The purpose of this paper is to review some broad concepts relating water quality and fish population health in reservoirs in generally and Falls of the Neuse particularly.

Fresh Water Mussel Community in Falls Lake: A Change in the Ecosystem by Arthur Bogan and Jane Smith
The freshwater bivalve fauna of the North Carolina is comprised of 80 species from three bivalve families. The focus of this paper is the diversity of freshwater bivalves in the family Unionidae found in the Neuse River basin. This includes 25 species of Unionidae in the Neuse River basin with only 3 native and one introduced species found in Falls Lake. These mussels have an obligate parasitic larval stage on the gills or fins of certain host fish. A relatively short residency on the host fish is necessary for the mussel to complete its reproductive cycle. This mussel fauna is characteristic of a free-flowing river system. Impounding the river limits the movement of migratory fish and may exclude host fish necessary for the reproduction of native mussels. Thus, the mussel fauna of Falls Lake is different from that occurring in the headwaters and in the free flowing sections of the Neuse River downstream of the lake. The quiet water, soft bottoms and restricted fish fauna only supports a reduced number of mussel species. Freshwater mussels are also impacted by degradation in water quality.

A Witness to Water Quality Deterioration in Falls Lake Reservoir by Tina Motley
I live a few miles from Falls Lake, and saw a lot of sediment flowing into it. Why was this happening? Why didn’t someone fix these problems? Who is responsible? I started researching water quality issues and became fascinated by the history of the lake, its dynamics, and why the lake is in such bad shape. People often don’t realize how important water is. We just turn on the faucet and there it is! There are many people that do not have that luxury. Millions die every year from lack of clean water. Even though water covers more than 2/3 of the earth, only 1% is available for drinking. 97% is salty sea water and 2% is frozen in polar ice caps and glaciers. That precious 1% is a necessary resource for the survival of many humans, plants, and animals. Humanity’s tragic flaw is self destruction by destroying the vital resources that make life possible. A few people benefit and billions suffer.

Implications of Aquaculture and Genetic Conservation in Freshwater and Estuarine Ecosystems: An Ecological, Ethical and Christian Stewardship Perspectives by Reginal M. Harrell
Falls Lake, as part of the Neuse River watershed, is a classic example where a natural ecosystem has been altered and a portion of the river impounded. Typical with such activities are shifts in the hydrography, habitat, and biota from a river system to a lake-structure impoundment. The underlying purposes for impounding such rivers are often tied to instrumental, utilitarian needs for flood control, water supply, power generation, and, indirectly, recreational purposes. Associated with shifting from a lotic (flowing water) to lentic (standing water) aquatic environment are changes in population and trophic structures that remain dynamic over time due to natural successional patterns. What once was a system dominated by specialized riverine species often becomes largely colonized by generalist lake species. Included with such population demographic shifts can be changes in predator-prey interactions and loss of certain ecologically-sensitive species. There also is often an increase in excessive sedimentation and nutrient loading. Additionally, dependent on the number and diversity of initial founder populations, there are the potential changes in the genetic structure of the colonizing species in question. Over time, these new population and habitat shifts, as well as new species interactions, can require supplemental stocking (fish, shellfish, invertebrates, or plants) for restoration purposes or niche utilization maximization. Important here is maintaining ecological and genetic balance. As such, aquaculture (in this case state or federally-operated hatcheries) is but one of the many tools biologists use to manage the habitat, genetic diversity, and the biota of an aquatic ecosystem by stockings, reintroduction of native species, or even introduction of non-natives or hybrid stocks for some intended management purpose. The latter, for example, may be for controlling changes in the aquatic plant communities or controlling exploding prey populations. In these cases it may be prudent to genetically sterilize such introductions to prevent them from becoming established in the system and becoming a problem themselves. Thus, stock introductions and or enhancement is a means to help balance these changes for population, biota, and even nutrient management purposes.This paper generically outlines the impacts associated with impounding rivers for water storage purposes and the use of hatcheries as a resource management tool. The emphasis is on the use of hatchery-produced products for effective management of an impoundment and its tributaries that have an important place for humans (i.e., drinking water and flood control). Finally, a brief discussion on the use of these hatcheries as a management tool will be addressed from a prudence, wisdom, and Christian stewardship perspective.

What did We Learn from the 2012 GIBS/CFC Falls Lake Creation Stewardship Symposium? And What is Next? by Robert Y. George
This paper gives a critical look at the major issues concerning the health of the ‘FallsLake Ecosystem’ that is now declared as “Troubled Waters”, with peak levels of nitrogen pollution, caused by severe storm water flux and frequent septic tank failures. The lake is either hypoxic or anoxic in 50 to 60 of its area (5055 hectares, 5 m in depth, 55 million cubic meter in volume) and therefore, invertebrates and fish fauna are no longer abound as it was in the past, prior to the impoundment to create this man-made lake to provide drinking water to half a million citizens in and around the rapidly growing city of Raleigh. An attempt is made in this concluding paper to highlight presentations from both scientists and theologians in this unique symposium which brought both theologian and scientists under the roof of God’s house.. A discussion on the influence of theologian Francis Schaeffer’s model of Christian stewardship is included. Finally, the author presents a new definition of “Christian Creation Stewardship” on the basis of five different perspectives. I am grateful to Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation for providing a grant to “the George Institute’ for interviewing 10 pastors of churches around the Falls Lake for the ‘Listening Project” which laid the foundation for this unique grass-root/ faith-based approach for addressing environmental issues in the head-waters area of the Neuse River basin in North Carolina.

Appendix

Pastoral Interviews from the Falls Lake Listening Project 2012
1. Michael Carter Interviews Jamie Dew
2. Robert Y. George Interviews Dwayne Milioni
3. Robert Y. George and Dwayne Milioni Interview Stephen Wagner
4. Robert Y. George and Dwayne Milioni Interview Scott Cook

View the Theoecologyjournal Editorial White Paper