On July 3, 2016 Ray Hertzler, Beryl Lawson, Linda Dove, and Amy Thompson presented “Perspectives on Evolution.”
Linda A. Dove
In 2006, in his last book, Evening Thoughts, Wendell Berry, cultural historian and eco-theologian, was concerned about our human devastation of Planet Earth through our aggressive commercial industrial Western culture. As a Catholic monk, he argued that this destructive behavior was sanctioned and encouraged by Christianity. (As you know, most UUs were Christian for many centuries until recently, and some still are).
Berry made these points:
- The Christian Church rejected the earlier feminine Earth-dwelling deities and made God into a patriarchal deity above and separate from the natural world. The result was that we humans withdrew our previous reverence for the sacred in nature and, having created God in our own image, we saw ourselves as spiritual and separate from nature which we viewed as merely material.
- Secondly, the Christian story of redemption encouraged us to see ourselves as saved and so separate from and transcendent over nature. Thus we could treat the natural world as a resource to be exploited for selfish human benefit.
- Third, since the Cartesian division of the world into mind and matter, we have claimed mind for ourselves and we have “de-souled” nature, adopting a metaphor of the world as mechanistic, and mere machinery for human use.
- This in turn has led us to use technology to overwhelm and dominate nature—to undermine natural population limits, to preserve our lives and delay death, to extinguish other life-forms, and to subvert the entire chemical composition of the Planet in a way that it cannot easily remedy.
- Finally, Berry argued, the Christian theology that gave us the vision of a transcendent destiny in some heavenly other world served also to diminish our concern for other, “inferior” life-forms and our living Earth.