Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Christianity and Ecology

Last week I briefly discussed the absurd attempt to claim ecology as an essentially xian value. This week Alexander Cockburn does an excellent job of bringing out some key quotes to illustrate this. Dominion over the animals was spelled out in the bible and has been a key to their attitude toward nature ever since, whether the xians were left or right.

In the beginning:

    'Let us make Man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion. . .over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. . .Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it.'Genesis 1:26 28

    'And [Peter] saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.' (Acts 10: 11 13.)

and now moving on to modern times:

    ...Dominion over 'Un-Christian' nature was at the heart of it, as C.S. Lewis spelled out frankly enough: 'Atheists naturally regard. . .the taming of an animal by man as a purely arbitrary interference of one species with another. The "real" or "natural" animal is to them the wild one, and the tame animal is an artificial or unnatural thing. But a Christian must not think so. Man was appointed by God to have dominion over the beasts, and. . .the tame animal is therefore, in the deepest sense, the only "natural" animal-the only one we see occupying the place it was made to occupy.'

Although the word "dominion" is still widely popular with the xian right, the xian left has tended to adopt its bastard stepchild "stewardship". Whatever the name, the radical distinction in value between people with "souls" and creatures without them remains.


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