This term first surfaced on the Assembly of WCC in 1983.
At that time people were still very much involved in the nuclear treats. The awareness that there was another big threat came very slowly: the collapse of the ecosystems of the Earth. Integrity of creation deals with nothing less than with all life on Earth.
Integrity of Creation: the value of all creatures in themselves, for one another, and for God, and their inter-connectedness in a diverse whole that has unique value for God.
J. Mc. Daniel
To forget the integrity of creation means to forget that the Earth is a beautiful whole in itself.
The integrity of creation has six dimensions:
1. The integrity of creation describes the integral functioning of endless natural transactions throughout the bio-sphere and even the geo-sphere. They comprise the specific exchanges and cycles from which all nature lives; we humans included atop of the food chain. They have an integrity that must not be violated. The behaviours of one domain are integrated with those of others. These exchanges are totally integrated. They have an integrity all together. Earth is a dynamic, but closed system.
2. The integrity of creation refers to nature’s restless self-organizing dynamics. While creation is finally one, its internally connected condition is dynamic. There is a persistent restlessness in nature, but this novelty is self-organizing. Nature is comprised of charged and changing stabilities. While all life is a restless adventure, it exists within vital boundaries and depends on elements working together as an astounding community.
Sometimes the changing relationships are harmonious, sometimes symbiotic, sometimes predatory, sometimes a mix of these. Destruction is certainly a part of nature’s creative process.
Integrity of creation means recognition and respect for these boundaries and integrated processes.
Recycling is a fundamental Earth dynamic. Waste in one phase normally becomes food or habitat in another, via cyclical and spiral processes.
Yet the natural recycling can be altered, in ways destructive of the processes themselves. E.g. destroy the ozone shield and see what happens on Earth and in the oceans. Earth is one and on the move. The fundamental law of nature is that human activities must stay within the boundaries of nature. If we transgress the boundaries, the consequences are that we alter nature in dangerous and unforeseen ways. In religious moral context this means the failure of humans to submit their power to Earth’s finitude and inhabit the Earth on terms it can accept.
3.The integrity of creation also points to Earth’s one -time endowment. The planet is self-renewing all the time, in ways seen and unseen. This totality is immensely rich, varied and dynamic. The Earth is also finite, limited, vulnerable, and subject to subversion and exhaustion. Our Earth is also fragile. Yet, we live as if the endowment were boundless and forever. We see now that the one – time endowment of the Earth is being violated.
4. The integrity of creation as a one-time, dynamic, natural endowment that can and is being jeopardized is related to another dimension, the integral relation of social and environmental justice. Earth is our shared home. AII, humans and otherkind alike, are relatives of one another as a consequence of basic relatedness on a closed planet. Earth knows this. The implication is that justice for people and for the rest of the planet are knotted together. Both poverty and affluence threaten and degrade basic life-support systems. (Affluence is responsible for roughly 70% of environmental degradation). At the same time human well – being and justice cannot be realized in an utterly devastated environment.
” The integrity of creation has a social aspect which we recognize as peace with justice, and an ecological aspect which we recognize in the self-renewing, sustainable character of natural ecosystems”.
Seoul conference, 1990.
5. The integrity of creation also names a divine source and a certain intrinsic dignity. It gives theological voice to faith’s conviction that creation in its totality and its differentiation is good and the work of a life-giving God. “Integrity” is a word for the preciousness integral to creation’s being.
“Creation” is a theological word rather than a scientific one. It means all things together, in, with, and before God, in their totality and in their differentiation as an expression of divine life.
6. The true understanding of integrity of creation carries more than the common conviction of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam about the interior goodness of creation as God’s. Creation is the gathering of independently good expressions of the divine love. This means deep respect for the otherkind as differentiated
It means respect for each creature and the fact that each creature has a right to do and be what it is created for.
More deeply, integrity of creation means here being with, as creation’s one way of being. Creation is social by nature, life requires mutuality. It means being- with rather than being above.
It also means consideration of other kind’s well-being as more than an extension of ours. The “integrity of creation’ carries moral freight of this kind. We are all symbionts. Evolution is the history of the total extended family.
An Earth Ethic that follows out of all this.
The integrity of creation pertains to all life-forms, not just to humans. For earth ethics, the integrity of creation means that all creatures are entitled moral consideration even when that does not issue in moral equality. Before God all creation has standing.
” A thing is right (for the Earth and the Earth community) when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” (Aldo Leopold)
How can humans be just towards plants, animals, streams, and land? How can we live morally just and preserve the integrity of creation? Nash proposes the following biotic rights;
1. The right to participate in the natural dynamics of existence. The right to flourish as nature provides this, without undue human alteration of genetic or behavioural “otherness” of non-human creatures.
2. The right to healthy and whole habitats.
3. The right to reproduce their own kind without humanly induced chemical radio- active, hybridized, or bio-engineered aberrations.
4. The right to fulfil their evolutionary potential with freedom from human induced extinctions. Extinctions are a natural part of the evolutionary process, but human-induced extinctions are unjust. Humanity’s exercise of its power ought not to undermine the existence of viable populations of non-human species in healthy habitats until the end of their evolutionary time.
5. The right to freedom from human cruelty, fragrant abuse, or profligate use.
6. The right to reparations or restitution through managerial interventions to restore a semblance of natural conditions disrupted by human abuse.
7. The right to a fair share of the goods necessary for individuals and species.
From a Conference of Justitia et Pax, S.America
Earth Community, Earth Ethics. L. Rasmussen ISBN 1-57075-186- 2