Does Nature Have Rights?

By Richard Nelson

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March 22, 2019

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Voters in Toledo, Ohio passed a law recognizing Lake Erie as an entity with rights. Voters in the special election approved the idea that Lake Erie has “the right to exist, flourish and naturally evolve.” Practically the measure allows any resident of Toledo to sue any farm, city or corporation that might be harming the lake. We should respect and value the creation but it's dangerous to pretend that any part of creation has equal standing in a court of law. Rights only exist within the context of corresponding duties. And rights are only afforded to human beings, not animals and not inanimate natural objects. Why? Because human beings are created in the image of God. And as image-bearers humans are tasked with both dominion and the stewardship of creation.

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