Behold the Earth
Director: David Conover
Runtime: 63 minutes
Celtic Christians felt that there were places where heaven and earth almost touched, where God could be felt and heard and perhaps, in a way, seen that much clearer. They called them “thin places,” a phrase that resonates with me deeply.
I live in Colorado, where the air itself is thinner. When I feel spiritually lost (which happens more than I’d like to admit) I head to the mountains and find a pocket of nature; the chatterbox chipmunks, vanilla-scented pines, the muted rainbows of rock-resting lichen.
I feel closest to God when I’m in the fist of His creation.
Behold the Earth, a 2018 film from David Conover, tells me that I’m not alone. In this gorgeously filmed documentary, Conover talks with several Christian or faith-friendly scientists who make the case that protecting nature isn’t just good for the earth: It’s what heaven would want us to do. We meet younger evangelical Christians who say that protecting the environment is deeply engrained in their own understanding of faith. And we hear from several folk singers, too, who sing and play and pay homage to God’s wondrous work.
Ben Lowe, founder for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, suggests that environmentalism is a distinctly pro-life issue: To care for the lives and health of babies not just in the womb, but once they leave it. Scientist Theo Colborn presses the point further, saying that the chemicals we put into the air and water can twist God’s design, even into the womb itself.
“This thing has invaded, I think, the most sacred thing on earth, and that is the construction of a baby,” she says. “That miraculous thing that takes place when the sperm enters the egg and that egg begins to split.”
The interviewed scientists point to the story of Noah’s ark—stressing that God wasn’t just out to save a remnant of humanity, but strains of all life. They point to the directive given to us at the very beginning of days—that we are to be masters and stewards of God’s creation. They direct us to the Psalms, where aspects of nature are used again and again to illustrate both God and His design.
“The creation of the scientist and the creation of the fundamentalist [Christian] is—how shall I say it—harmonious, in seeking the goal I think we both have,” says biologist and Pulitzer prize-winning author E.O. Wilson.
Conover’s film is both an homage to God’s miraculous, multilayered creation and a plea to take better care of it. It tells us that science and faith need not squabble over such matters, and that the two can and should work together. (After all, if our faith has foundation, science is a tool made by God, not a threat to His followers.)
Behold the Earthis a beautifully filmed movie, and one I’d love for lots of people to see. I’ve always been a bit mystified with evangelical Christianity’s sometimes seeming indifference to the environment. I understand the political divide to some extent. But I’ve always thought that Christians, whether they vote red or blue, can still appreciate a bit of green.
Behold the Earthis out now from iTunes or wherever you download films.
— Written by Paul Asay