Pollution. Ecological destruction. This then is the nemesis that modern Western society, together with its imitators in countries like Asia and China, have brought upon themselves by following the directive given in the first Book of Genesis. That directive has turned out to be bad advice, and we are beginning, wisely, to recoil, or at least reflect more on it. Meanwhile, we are confronted by at least three puzzling questions…
First, why was there such a long delay in putting this directive into practice? The application of science to technology and the consequent outbreak of the Industrial Revolution lagged about twenty-six centuries behind the probable date of the Book of Genesis. Secondly, why was the directive given in Genesis only acted upon effectively at a time and place in which people were losing their traditional belief in the inspiration of the Bible and even in the existence of the God of Israel, Christianity, and Islam? Third, why is it that only a minority of the Yahweh worshipers- and ex-Yahweh worshipers- has carried out the directive even now.
Why did not the Jews do the job? The Torah’ is the Jew’s own sacred book, inherited from their pre-Exilic ancestors; the Chrsitians have borrowed it from the Jews unchanged and have merely christened it the “Pentateuch,” or the first five books of the “Old Testament.” Why has it been the Christians, and only one local sect of them, who have acted on the directive in Genesis?
The answer is that the injunction to subdue the earth was bound to remain a dead letter “until the times of theGentiles be fulfilled,” and this occurred when Western Christian Gentiles succeeded in enhancing the potency of human technology to a degree that gave Westerners and their non-Western pupils mastery over the rest of nature. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Westerners have put their treasure in the increase of material affluence; they have set their hearts on this; and “verily…they have their reward.”
We have been obsessed with economic growth through the advancement of technology, taking unlimited liberties with nature, thinking of nature in monotheistic terms as sacrosanct “raw material.” Oddly, this obsession has not been shared totally by other monotheists like Jews, Muslims or Eastern Christians to the extent where economics and technology are at the same degree. Jews have played some part in the mechanization of industry, but never overly prominently. The Muslims were ahead of the Western Christians in science and technology in the early Middle Ages, and if they had kept their lead, they, not the Westerners, might have been the first Yahwists to fulfill scripture by subduing the earth.
Among the Eastern Christians, the Russians have adopted Western technology in self-defense since the time of Peter the Great; in our time they have competing with the Americans, particularly during the Cold War in nuclear science and space exploration, but for the most part they have been following the West’s lead and playing catch up to remain relevant.
Six centuries before the Industrial Revolution, there was the confrontation between Saint Francis of Assisi and his father. Saint Francis’s father was the precursor of the modern Western businessman; Pietro Bernardone the money maker. His son Francesco chose to espouse poverty. In this, Saint Francis was consciously following Christ’s example, but without knowing it he was also following the Buddha’s.
Saint Francis renounced the inheritance of a lucrative family business; the Buddha had renounced the succession to the throne of a kingdom; and the motive of each of these renunciations was the same. Material weand power were seen to be obstacles to spiritual achievement. ( to be continued)…
(see link at end)…Many Christian thinkers have reacted with horror to White, believing that he—or at least his followers—has misinterpreted a specific historical moment as a manifestation of Christianity’s essence. They argue that a broader reading of Genesis calls for stewardship of God’s creation, and that environmentalism is best considered an extension of Christian humility and the search for social justice. They also argue that it is unfair to take a single interpretation of one passage, that proclaiming man’s dominion, as so central to Christianity’s environmental message. One theologian argues against the idea of a split between human and nature, and calls for “rejection of the body-soul dualism of classical Christian thought and a return to the biblical view of man as a unitary being.” Raymond Grizzle and Christopher Barrett further develop the idea of unity, calling for a humble anthropocentricism that conjoins economic, social justice, and environmental needs. They echo earlier calls to treat these as part of one body, metaphorically the body of Christ and of the church: “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:14-26)….
… At the other extreme is a fundamentalist millenarianism—exemplified by the popular Left Behind series—which believes that, since the end of the world is near we have no need to look after the environment. Explains one writer hostile to this viewpoint, “Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the Apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the Rapture?” Millenarianism derives much of its power from Jesus’ words in Luke, expanded in the Book of Revelation: ” And there shall be signs in the sun, in the moon and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25-26).Read More:http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/envrel/review.php