What does it mean to subdue creation and how do we know if we are obeying this fundamental command from Genesis 1:28?
In one sense, my wife Ana and I subdue creation in our backyard every summer. We use a rototiller to turn over the soil and then plant seeds. Soon, the earth yields tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers (lots of cucumbers). The earth has been subdued when it provides useful things.
In another sense, I was part of subduing the world when I worked for Ford Motor Company. At one time in the factories of Ford, iron ore was brought in to smelt steel, petroleum was brought in in the form of plastics, and all the components of glass were melted together. At the end of the assembly line, a new car purred to life and drove away. While any Ford customer could have purchased iron ore, petroleum, and the components of glass, without question they preferred these elements in the form of an automobile. In other words, the earth had been subdued and the creation was made useful when a car was assembled from parts.
How do we know that the creation was useful for our customers? They were willing to pay for the finished automobiles. In a free market transaction, the customers willingly traded money for the means of transportation. In fact, the market price is a helpful measure of how useful creation had been made for an individual.
People are willing to pay high prices for things that are useful and are willing to pay only low prices (if at all) for things that are less useful. For this reason, the price established in a free market transaction is an important part of understanding how well we are obeying the commands to subdue the world. Thus theology and economics intersect at this critical juncture and investigating these points of intersection is the purpose of this blog.
Gentle reader, we’ll examine the the other essential element in our next post tomorrow.