Why did God create us as part of complex biological systems where a “win” for one species often means a “loss” for another? What is God trying to teach us?
The basic premise of the author is poorly founded. The complex system was built on the coming and going of species. In the Permian extinction, 75% of all species vanished. Only 25% survived. In the KT extinction about 2/3 vanished, including the dinosaurs, making way for mammals and us. And, to show that photograph with those white puffs coming from the chimney and cooling towers and pretend that it is bad, is showing harmless WATER VAPOR. The Earth took care of itself for 4.3 Billion years, it does not need our help Whereas, the Bible spends 66 books urging us to CARE FOR EACH OTHER. Clean water, ample clothing, abundant food, strong warm shelters, good health, caring communities. The electricity coming from that power plant is a part of providing clean water, warm clothing, strong shelter and useful medicine.
Yes… While I very much support taking responsibility for the human impact on the environment and climate, I think you are right to draw the line at negative effects upon people. Too often political policies which are not accepted in the U.S. get pushed on third world countries in an oppressive manner. And while many in the U.S. and Europe can afford alternative energy sources this is too much to expect in the third world.
For this reason I think our efforts to take responsibility for our impact on climate should instead of exclusive focus on this backward approach of reducing emissions should include more forward thinking ways of finding ways to support the conversion of CO2 back into O2 with ocean plankton and biofuels. To be sure, we have many good reasons to cut back our dependence upon fossil fuels which is logically returning the Earth atmosphere to the primordial one without O2. But I would still prefer to see a more balanced approach.
The Earth is old and has gone through many periods when the world was a different place to live. For example, the sea level has varied a lot and ice ages has turned much of the northern hemisphere to a white desert. Human populations have adapted to live in the present conditions and it would be a disaster if sea levels would rise rapidly by 10+ meters, or a combination of extreme floods and long periods of drought would regularly destroy the crops in many of the important agricultural areas.
Caring for each other necessarily includes caring about the living conditions of others. If the changing conditions turn the environment to something that does not provide food and fresh water, then people suffer and those surviving need to emigrate. That is one reason why we should care what happens globally. If you don’t like the term or idea of climate change, then we do not need to use that expression. We can speak of global warming, melting glaciers, rising sea levels (all facts). All of them environmental changes that will cause and have already caused much suffering, independent of what is causing the global environmental changes.
Scenarios about what will happen within the next decades predict that we will have globally 200 M new ‘environmental refugees’ (range 25-1200 M by the year 2050 in different scenarios). Those refugees will move to areas and countries where they can get food and water. USA and Europe are among the preferred destinations if they cannot live in areas close to their former home. Even if you would not care about people that live in distant countries, they become your problem when they come to knock on your door.
I am probably a panentheist and believe that God is inherent in all living creatures and is the “I AM” that is entwined with our biological survival instinct. We only observe the latter in our everyday experiences, but the former covertly observes the experience of life, and imparts wisdom in silence. Many of our opinions are guided from our biology rather than from introspection and meditation, but also from a mind that sees itself separate from nature, rather than part of it. We speak of coming into the world, but on the one side we come out of the ground, out of the natural world and are infused with the breath of life.
For me the purpose of our physical existence is to be and witness the coming and going of life, the ephemerality of sensual experience, our entanglement with our environment, and our oneness with all creatures. Our vulnerability, our growth and decline impart important lessons, and teach humility and compassion. But it is also our calling to be caretakers, to work against the decay and destruction and instead understand, plant, and cultivate, and care for life. Each of us has a particular talent that we can employ, mine was nursing, what is yours?
I put a like on that not because I agree with your theological position but because it is well thought out and reveals your way of thinking… which is good. Though I see many commonalities that others here including myself will agree with.
I had a few years experience with nursing when taking care of my mother as her primary caregiver. It was quite a crash course as she declined and I had to keep adjusting methods in order to care for her. I am not trying to claim similarity with your experience since I was completely untrained. And I wouldn’t call it a talent but only a reason for interest. It helped me understand the nurses a bit in my recent stay in the hospital after surgery (two weeks ago).
I have more talent with teaching, physics, mathematics, and computer programming. And I also spent a few years writing science fiction (another amateur experience/familiarity).
I am a pragmatist and existentialist before Christian and scientist before that – in layers. I see our purpose as something we find and decide for ourselves rather than being something dictated to us. This is the “existence precedes essence” from existentialism translated to Christianity as a belief that we are created as an end in ourselves like children, rather than a means to an end like tools. So I have no objection to your declaration of purpose as applying to yourself… though I can see much of what you have described in my own life also.
I am very strongly theist. But I have great respect for other positions especially if they are honestly and well articulated including atheism, pantheism, paganism, polytheism, etc… I do not see theism as inherently better and have frequently said atheism is preferable to me than many forms of theism.
Maybe. It looks a lot like what was put out by a paper plant I used to drive by well over the speed limit because those “white puffs” smelled worse than a combination of sewage, a slaughterhouse, and sulfurous hot springs.
The whole article is well thought out, but if kenosis is a “self-emptying,” we know that this will be exploited because it is the way of life on this planet. Of course, it is often associated with virtues like humility, compassion, and service to others, but it’s crucial for mental health to balance these virtues with self-care, healthy boundaries, and a sense of one’s own worth and identity. It is finding the right balance between selflessness and self-preservation that is challenging.
If individuals prioritize the needs of others to such an extent that they disregard their own well-being, it can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion, burnout, and a decline in their own mental and physical health. Unfortunately, I can tell a story about that, so we must also look at the tendency of communities to thoughtlessly exploit such an ideal, although in an ecological setting, it would be even further prone to exploitation.
As an ideal within healthy boundaries, and with an overseeing body, that cares for the people and warns them against tendencies towards self-neglect or self-abandonment, it is a very effective service to a community, but without, is self-destructive. The fact that Jesus neglected himself so much that he accepted death on the cross may sound like an exemplary behaviour, but in practise it is very different and dependent upon control. There have been enough examples of people reduced to feelings of resentment, bitterness, and frustration, negatively affecting their mental and emotional well-being – I have seen it in young novices in monasteries.
That got me in the campus clinic my second year in college. I still have a hard time saying “No” to people.