Reply To: Rewriting Of Genese 1, Verses 26 to 31

The British Druid Order Forums BDO Public Forum Rewriting Of Genese 1, Verses 26 to 31 Reply To: Rewriting Of Genese 1, Verses 26 to 31


Morning Raven.

I hear what you’re saying too. This is quite a long post, but I think it’s an interesting discussion that we’re having.

I’ve just reread White’s 1967 article this morning. In terms of the article, I think it’s a little more nuanced than some people often make out. White asserts that practically all human development since the Pleistocene has changed the environment and this, he posits, is a natural consequence of any organism’s interaction with an ecosystem – using the analogy of a coral reel to illustrate the point. He sees the turning point as being the Industrial Revolution and then posits that this goes back to a Medieval attitude rooted in Western/Latin Christianity.

Nevertheless, I find the idea that an idea of that humans have a right to “dominate” nature as an essentially Christian idea in the West, deriving from scripture, a little bit shaky to be honest – especially since there is the whole debate about the word (in translation) dominion anyway and that there are plenty of non-Western Christian examples of environmental destruction. The entire pre-Christian world was not some ecological, animist, nature-loving Golden Age. One point in particular, the type of plough that White mentions, the mould-board plough, actually first originated in China in the 5th – 6th centuries BCE and appeared in Northern Europe only in the 7th century CE. Whether the former influenced the latter or they both developed autonomously, I do not know, however, the fact that technological “mastery” over nature also arises outside of Christianity, is something which makes White’s conjecture a little difficult to sustain completely. Furthermore, White himself provides examples of Christian ecology and concern for the environment, notably St Francis of Assisi, which naturally leads me to question how such concerns could arise if they, as in the case of St Francis, were deeply rooted in Medieval, Western/Latin Christianity, which is the origin, according to White’s thesis, of the problem. It seems a bit paradoxical.

One of white’s central theses is, as you mention, that the “roots of our trouble are largely” religious, which I think may be a little contentious. I think people create the religion they need – were there any harvest deities before agriculture or were they any smith gods before metallurgy? Moving on, I’m not sure about viewing Marxism as a Judaeo-Christian heresy either. It’s also a bit disappointing that little mention is made of the great Arabic-Islamic scholars who did indeed write on what we consider today as ecological concerns. I also find the idea that Christianity is anthropocentric problematical, I’m sure many would argue that it is theocentric: in Christianity, God is central – no one else. However, to be fair to White, he does differentiate and does not treat Christianity as some monolithic block, focusing more on a specific form of Christianity, which arose in one historical and geographical context.

Nevertheless, it is an interesting article and it explores a view point in a novel (given the times) way. What I think White is proposing at the end is also interesting, he seems to indicate moving towards the Christianity of St Francis of Asissi. Given that the current Pope is Pope Francis and has definitely spoken out about and written on ecological concerns, this 1967 article seems all the more contemporary.

In terms of your personal experience, it seems strange to me that any Christian would challenge someone for being a vegetarian or vegan. John Wesley advocated vegetarianism and William Cowherd, founder of the Bible Christian Church, was a staunch vegetarian and his church promoted vegetarianism. Members of this church went on to found the The Vegetarian Society in 1847, one of the oldest – if not the oldest – vegetarian societies in the world if I’m not mistaken. However, to any Christian trying to defend environmental destruction or lack of concern as being somehow justified by scripture, I would point out that there’s plenty of scripture to the contrary; moreover, you could simply ask whether the person in question thought that Jesus himself would advocate what goes on today; would Jesus advocate destroying and treating cruelly his Father’s creations? I think not somehow. Finally, the trouble with cherry-picking scripture to suit any whim was also noted by Shakespeare: “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.