Applying knowledge without wisdom
I sometimes refer to my past columns to reinforce points. Early this month mention of past pieces “The environment must come first” and “Making do and going without”, saw me cop this:“Apart from being immensely vague and all-encompassing” you offer absolutely no actual solutions; and “God must come first”.
I responded that I believe in the oneness of everything, that the whole of nature is God, and “Making do and going without fits Christian values”.
He replied, “Pantheism has no power to replace the human ‘heart' with one aligned with the God of the Bible.” I disagree.
I think oneness of all things, Alexander von Humboldt's “Forces of nature interlaced” and similar modern-day views are more heart-based than the permission to dominate nature that God in human form gave our ancestors of eons past.
Dictionary definition: Pantheism is a doctrine that equates God with the forces and laws of the universe.
India 520BC: Jainist, Mahavira (Vardahamana) abandoned all his worldly possessions to teach compassion, von-violence and the close physical association of all living organisms in connection to elements — earth, water, air, fire and space.
Ancient Greece philosopher Diogenes, born around 404BC, also rejected luxury and committed to working and living “in agreement with nature”. Thoughout later life he preached universal unity with nature, seeing no difference between insects, animals and plants.
Around 400AD famous Christian Saint Augustine of Hippo began preaching we should all live harmoniously with creation . . . “Call nothing your own, let everything be shared and all live together in oneness of mind and heart, mutually honouring God in everything.”
In 1208 St Frances of Assisi also renounced a life of luxury to go barefoot in nature, to realise all things human and non-human had one father. With great compassion, he embraced humans, animals, birds, insects, earth and heavenly bodies all as brothers and sisters. St Frances is now a patron saint for ecologists and a great role model for nature-nurture.
Pope Frances saw fit to adopt his name and himself preaches great respect for the environment, and that all creation is connected.
Yet my critic shows he believes in the ancient God of the bible, in human form (wholly independent of, and separate from, the material universe). Most modern Christians I know don't believe that. Even our science-minded Pope Frances says God is not a magician, with a magic wand.
This is unlike the Genesis story of aeons past, of man the master, able to subdue and have dominion over all living things and nature.
It is only by believing we are the most superior of beings that we have brought about the problems I go on about.
Some readers might remember a few years back an angry respondent likened me to a worm. I replied that my hero Charles Darwin studied earthworms for 38 years, describing them as the most important creatures on Earth. I suggested they might be more important to a functioning planet than us . . . no reply, so I say here they truly are by far.
Every worm, every insect, every animal is working for the ecological wellbeing of the planet. Only we humans, who claim to be the most intelligent species here, are not doing that.
In truth, the industrial age brought a surge of new knowledge with much of it used for ecological detriment — and God is not a magician to put it right.
Humanity may have a wealth of knowledge, but sadly with only poverty of wisdom to match.
Again, the environment must come first. As Martin Hanson wrote recently: “Our high-energy lifestyles must be radically changed.”
Yes indeed, and pronto.