Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Worshipping amoral nature

Dennis Prager's column today was really interesting, insofar as it discussed the difference between Judeo-Christian thought and nature worship. After describing how the Bible, for the first time, envisioned a God separate from and greater than nature, he goes on to discuss the problems with the elevation of nature that we see so often today:

Major elements in secular Western society are returning to a form of nature worship. Animals are elevated to equality with people, and the natural environment is increasingly regarded as sacred. The most extreme expressions of nature worship actually view human beings as essentially blights on nature. Even among some who consider themselves religious, and especially among those who consider themselves 'spiritual' rather than religious, nature is regarded as divine, and G-d is deemed as dwelling within it. It is quite understandable that people who rely on feelings more than reason to form their spiritual beliefs would deify nature. It is easier — indeed more natural — to worship natural beauty than an invisible and morally demanding G-d. What is puzzling is that many people who claim to rely more on reason would do so. Nature is unworthy of worship. Nature, after all, is always amoral and usually cruel. Nature has no moral laws, only the amoral law of survival of the fittest. Why would people who value compassion, kindness or justice venerate nature? The notions of justice and caring for the weak are unique to humanity. In the rest of nature, the weak are to be killed. The individual means nothing in nature; the individual is everything to humans. A hospital, for example, is a profoundly unnatural, indeed antinatural, creation; to expend precious resources on keeping the most frail alive is simply against nature. The romanticizing of nature, let alone the ascribing of divinity to it, involves ignoring what really happens in nature. I doubt that those American schoolchildren who conducted a campaign on behalf of freeing a killer whale (the whale in the film "Free Willy") ever saw films of actual killer whale behavior. There are National Geographic videos that show, among other things, killer whales tossing a terrified baby seal back and forth before finally killing it. Perhaps American schoolchildren should see those films and then petition killer whales not to treat baby seals sadistically. If you care about good and evil, you cannot worship nature. And since that is what G-d most cares about, nature worship is antithetical to Judeo-Christian values.
I remember when my children were little, they exclaimed that lions were bad, because they killed people. And I struggled to explain that lions are lions, and that's why they kill. Good and bad only apply to those with the capacity to reason. A person who kills another person, is bad; a lion that kills another animal (even another lion), is just a lion, since he lacks moral insight. Strangely enough, my kids seemed to accept my inarticulate statements, and they do appear to be suspicious of attempts to humanize animals (and they do love animals).