I recently overheard a Christian say "I open my heart to everyone, since each and every person was created in the image of God." To me, something just isn't quite right about that. Clearly this man has elevated every person on the face of the earth.. above every animal. Jerry Sandusky is--within this mindset--better than that mother cat in Russia who covered an abandoned human baby, which she discovered in the snow, with her fur overnight until help arrived. If she were run over by a car, the "in the image of God" guy might say "it's just dead cat"; but may also compassionately comfort Ted Bundy before his execution.
Just in a simple pragmatic way, a mountain lion is--to an extreme degree--not a threat to a lone hiker, even though it certainly could be physically. In other words, there have been only about a dozen recorded mountain lion killings of humans in the state of California since the 1800s. Still, the media gets so excited every time one is spotted near any urban area. There's a much greater chance of being attacked, or even just harassed, by another person than by any animal even when in the wild. Mr. "in the image of God" is protesting nature and evolutionary struggle itself. There are human predators of every type, all around us if we look. Christians would call this, man's "sin nature."
I don't understand how Christians can believe in two entirely different concepts at the same time. On one hand, all men were created in God's image (inherently good) vs. the "sin nature" concept in which all individual humans are "wretched" by nature (inherently evil). There's even a Christian television program called 'Wretched', in reference to mankind's evil nature. I used "vs." for comparison, but actually those two ideas are commonly just mixed freely together.
It would seem obvious that the answer would lie somewhere in the middle. Recently while hiking, I came upon a few brush rabbits feeding on a mountain slope with a breathtaking view of San Francisco in the horizon. Those rabbits are not able to comprehend this sight. They can't even see it. Even if these rabbits were feeding upon a mountain slope with a beautiful view of a valley with forest and lake, green land and blue sky on a perfect day.... they couldn't see it, nor comprehend it if they could. Even more intelligent animals like dogs or cats, although we can observe them enjoying the sun and the environment sometimes, really aren't able to comprehend the horizon, or the earth... or contemplate the vast universe or existence itself. Mankind is a little bit special, under the right circumstances.
What would the earth be like if there were no humans? Of course, it would be better off in many ways. However, what good would it be without a person--lets just say a more intelligent and spiritually developed person--to stand on a mountaintop on a sunny day and gaze upon the beautiful sky and horizon, or observe a deer or hawk in the distance? It would seem somewhat pointless. This marriage is both complimentary and destructive.
Recently I was driving amid a new housing development along a mountain slope. In this particular case, these homes were constructed to be a little larger and more beautiful than the typical housing development we see. Each home seemed to have its own special and unique place, elevation, spacing, and setting. These homes were constructed on only one side of a beautiful green valley. Although I wasn't very enthusiastic about this new development, I begrudgingly had to admit that I could see dramatic views of the rugged opposite mountainside which I was unable to see before. Also, the homes were well nestled into the hillside, rather than the "urban jungle" or "suburban sprawl" look. Since the opposite mountainside was part of a park, developers cannot touch it.
As a consequence of all of this, it was a good marriage of civilization and nature, earth and mankind. Of course, there have been nightmares with commercial high rises constructed on the edge of beautiful parks and neighborhoods. I am not referring to downtown areas in big cities, which have their own scale, and the people who prefer dense urban life; or not even to rural areas in particular. Suburbanites, like vast majority of people, want their cake and eat it too. They want "quiet" and big city convenience. I don't seem to have an appropriate ending to this, so I'll just end by saying that we shouldn't just be indiscriminately paving over the earth. Mankind needs limitations.