In the gnostic philosophical-theological tradition, a strong form of dualism is believed. Adherents maintain that the substance we call ‘material’ is perverted, unclean, and evil. Meanwhile, ‘spiritual’ substance is good, holy, and pure. Thus, enlightenment and religious growth come from a rejection of the material world as evil. One is liberated through spiritual wisdom, and ultimate hope is found in being rid of one’s physical body and leaving the material world.
Modern Christianity would not openly endorse such an extreme doctrine. However, from my experience, it seems that Christians do maintain a softer form of gnosticism. Our churches hold little regard for the earth and its creatures. We are far too anthropocentric in our thinking.
St. Francis of Assisi taught us to pray with thanksgiving for and intercession on behalf of God’s creation and all of nature. In modern days, we call such a disposition “biophilia” — the love of life. Our love must extend to all living things in the world, including plants and animals, in that they are fellow members of God’s creation.
However, Christians today rarely emphasize this need. Instead, we focus on individual spiritual experience and often neglect our duties to take care of the earth.
Therefore, we as Christians must recapture this loving disposition toward all life. It must encompass our teachings and lifestyle. Such a disposition is filled with peace and the love of Christ. Hopefully, by experiencing the care and compassion of a Christlike follower, our brothers and sisters in faith will understand the need to live a biophilic life.