We recently watched the last Episode of the BBC series Africa. It’s been another epic televisual experience giving us a window into the awe-inspiring landscapes, vegetation and remarkable animals great and small on that vast continent. It ended rather solemnly, with the veteran broadcaster David Attenborough taking a look into the future – for plants, animals and for the human race.
Attenborough seems to suggest that global population growth and climate change could wipe out whole species and change the continent and perhaps the world forever. Maybe there will be just a few humans left fighting over the last habitable areas and dwindling food stocks.
But why should this matter to Attenborough? After all – he is a convinced evolutionist, why should this matter? If there are no more lions, that’s just natural selection working its magic. Why should he want to interfere. What is the philosophical basis for wanting there to be lions for our children to marvel at?
The inconvenient truth is that there’s this strong feeling imprinted on us that we really ought to care, and a sense of duty that we ought to take responsibility for our world. Isn’t that because God has given us a mandate to subdue and fill the earth but at the same time to be responsible rulers?
The most chilling thing to notice from that closing programme is the hopelessness of a world of chance and accident. We cling on to the thought that we might be able to find solutions to environmental problems. We whistle a tune and desperately hope we don’t blow ourselves up or burn the earth’s resources into a desert, but we know it’s only a vague optimism.
But what if you knew that there really was a better world to look forward to, where all that spoils is kept out and all that is beautiful and fascinating and awesome is there?
What if there was a place so extensive and rich and diverse that the BBC could never produce a series sufficiently epic to do it justice?
Now that’s something to look forward to.
That’s the hope given by the good news about Jesus Christ: certainty in an unpredictable world.