THE MESS THE MYTH HAS MADE
Once upon a time in the dawn of civilization somewhere at the crossroads of his world, a human with a poetic imagination decided to describe fancifully how he and all his brethren and sisters and all organic and inorganic things came to be. A God, he imagined, created man in His image and woman from a rib of man and enjoined man to multiply and subdue the earth and have dominion over it and every living thing that moved on it. The poet had no notion of what an impact his poetry would have on following generations and on God’s creation.
Centuries later a human who suspected that the poetic myth wasn’t what really happened took ship and sailed to many lands with his notebook; and after years of scientific scrutiny of nature concluded that man wasn’t created in a day but that man evolved over millions of years from a simple-celled something to a complex animal with sense and conscience. And that he was not created in the image of a God but in the image of nature. The scientist had a notion of the impact of his study and the controversy it would engender. But he told the truth as he saw it.
Today, more people believe the poet’s myth than believe the scientist’s evolutionary theory. And thus more people believe that the earth was made primarily for man’s consumption and convenience regardless of whether such a belief is to the detriment of all else or not. As a result one species, namely, man has made and is making a mess out of the good earth that God put him on or on which he evolved. He is not only jeopardizing his very existence by carving out of the earth what he wants instead of just what he needs but endangering the existence of all other species most of which are content to get just what they need from earth and are circumspect in the quantities that they store up.
Man knows no limit to the variety of his wants or to the quantities of them, particularly since many of his brothers are in the business of producing what is not needed and an army of others are in the business of convincing man that he cannot do without what he doesn’t need, if he really wants to be happy. And from all this business the earth suffers and the birds and butterflies suffer and all else that is not man suffers, except those men who provide the insatiable wants of men in power. They suffer from over work and inequitable pay.
The man who believes that he was made in the image of God and that he is different in kind from all other life has little compunction with regard to how he exploits and plunders the creation he religiously believes God made in days and exhorted him to dominate and subdue along with every other living thing on earth.
But the man who believes that he is blood kin to all other life, that he evolved over millions of years from swamp cells to a human and that his future health is tied inextricably with the health of all other species, plant and animal, has compunctions of a moral kind and also has concerns related to the question of whether or not his kind can have a future without a future for all life. The earth to an evolutionist is a biosphere and the toll for any species is a toll for man. Ask not for whom the bell tolls.
“As world population has doubled and as the global economy has expanded sevenfold over the last half-century, our claims on the Earth have become excessive. We are asking more of the Earth than it can give on an ongoing basis. We are harvesting trees faster than they can regenerate, overgrazing rangelands and converting them into deserts, overpumping aquifers, and draining rivers dry. On our cropland, soil erosion exceeds new soil formation, slowly depriving the soil of its inherent fertility. We are taking fish from the ocean faster than they can reproduce.
“Throughout history, humans have lived on the Earth’s sustainable yield—the interest from its natural endowment. But now we are consuming the endowment itself. In ecology, as in economics, we can consume principal along with interest in the short run but in the long run it leads to bankruptcy.”
The poet who envisioned man as a semi-god, the child of the only God, and immuned to the consequences of profligacy in the uses of the home his Father prepared for him—if he is looking on to what is happening to that creation—should be concerned if not in a panic state over its welfare. But from what a man reads today, the poet’s successors are complacent and smug and doubt not but that whatever they do with the creation is pre-approved by Him, who told them to use it and to procreate a multi-progeny to use even more of it, ad infinitum.
The successors to the man who shocked the creationists can see the handwriting on the wall. What it says is that time is running out for those whose god is consumption and whose religion is that of the poet that spun the myth that has led to this mess.
To prevent catastrophe to the entire world, men who have must share it and share a painful amount of it. And populations must be stabilized, soil erosion must be contained, soil rehabilitation must be enhanced, water use must be conserved, carbon dioxide emissions must be reduced, habitat destruction must be mitigated, Earth’s endowment must be preserved, and Earth must be honored as the mother of us all and the only nurture, physical and spiritual, of us all.