Saturday, May 08, 2010


If you ask me, “the Fall” had nothing to do with some mythical man disobeying some mythical God after he was told not to eat the fruit of a mythical tree. No, the Fall may indeed be happening now, and it is resulting in large part from some very real sentences in a very real book that millions if not billions of people take to be the Word of the very real God.

Here are those sentences:

“God made wild beasts of every kind and cattle of every kind, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. And God saw that this was good. And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. They shall rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the cattle, and the whole earth, and all the creeping things that creep on earth.’ And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fertile and increase, fill the earth and master it; and rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and all the living things that creep on earth.’” (Gen. 1: 25:28.)

[Spoken by God to Noah:] “Every creature that lives shall be yours to eat; as with the green grasses, I give you all these. You must not, however, eat flesh with its life-blood in it. But for your own life-blood I will require a reckoning: I will require it of every beast; of man, too, will I require a reckoning for human life, of every man for that of his fellow man!” (Gen. 9: 4-5.)

Obviously, this Book has been interpreted a trillion ways. The wiser the sage, the more likely it is that it will be interpreted gently and benignly. Moreover, there are obviously numerous other provisions in this Book that may be giving a very different message. But that’s cold comfort, because, as we all know, it only takes one verse in this Book to thoroughly change a person’s outlook on life, let alone his conduct. So let’s just take a look at the above words and those words alone and consider how ordinary folks are likely to construe them.

As I read those verses, God is telling humankind that we were made in God’s image, and as a result, we will be given the privilege of ruling the earth. When it comes to the animals who live here, we can do with them as we please. In fact, our job is to increase in population so that we literally fill the planet. As to the animals, we will be their “master” … their Lord. We can eat them (subject to some exceptions), ane presumably we can just kill them if we’d like – it’s one another whom we better not kill. For we, not those lowly animals, are made in God’s image.

You’ll forgive me if I have God on my mind these days, because I’ve just taken the week off from work to make some progress on my manuscript on the philosophy of God. My manuscript is very affirming about the concept of God, but that’s not to say that I can ignore whenever organized religions take over the God business and fill our thoughts with what can be very dangerous ideas. People talk a lot these days about the support in the Qur’an for much of the violence that is plaguing our world. But few writings in the history of religion are as dangerous as those passages above. They not only are a major source of arrogance among human beings, but worse, they have lent support for many people to thoroughly abuse our power as a species.

Religious people should see ourselves as trustees for the planet’s true owner (God). In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “the earth belongs in usufruct to the living.” That concept would entitle us to use property, but only as long as we don’t damage it, for it is not ours to despoil as we please. In fact, however, we seem to be seeing ourselves not as trustees, but as the absolute owners of this earth. In this model, God is presumably indifferent to our actions since He resides in the heavens – and besides, He gave us this land and its animal inhabitants to “master.” So, like a big fat man with a cigar in his mouth who guards his family property with a shotgun, even when there are no apparent intruders, we jealously guard our God-given rights to treat this planet in whatever way we believe serves our species’ own interests. If an animal has a problem with that, we can always just shoot it and eat it.

The remainder of this post has been redacted.

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