In order for mankind to subdue the earth and have dominion over it, humanity would eventually have to occupy every region of it. Man was to keep the earth (Genesis 2:15), not exploit and waste its resources. The command to subdue does not imply that the earth was an enemy, but rather that it was a complex and wonderful world, to be ordered and controlled for man’s benefit and God’s glory.
Performing the function of subduing and exercising dominion over the physical and biological creations necessarily implies the development of physical and biological sciences (physics, chemistry, hydrology, etc., as well as biology, physiology, ecology, etc.) Thus, the work involved suggests the study and understanding of the created world, or, as Kepler and other great scientists have put it, “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.”
Since sin entered the world, profound changes have taken place in all of God’s created domains. The ground itself was cursed (Genesis 3:17), as were the living creatures (Genesis 3:14). The principle of decay and disintegration began to operate in physical systems; mutations, disease, and death began to debilitate biological systems. No longer is science merely required to understand the function and organization of earth; it must now attempt to uncover the original designs of those processes and to learn now to repair the increasing damage being done.
Factual and quantitative data in all areas of study are accessible to all men with the capacity to pursue them. The interpretive and philosophical applications of such data, however, depend strongly on one’s spiritual condition.