Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Revisiting 'Dennis Prager on the environment' Part 1

In every society on earth, people venerated nature and worshipped nature gods. There were gods of thunder and gods of rain. Mountains were worshipped, as were rivers, animals and every natural force known to man. In ancient Egypt, for example, gods included the Nile River, the frog, sun, wind, gazelle, bull, cow, serpent, moon and crocodile.

Then came Genesis, which announced that a supernatural God, i.e., a god who existed outside of nature, created nature. Nothing about nature was divine.

If the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park are not divine in some way even if not the divinest of the divine, then I'm lost on this one.

(Added later)

Funny again how Prager doesn't mention that a "God" created nature, and we can love and appreciate God's gift to us without the need to have ritual dances for our sacred environmental fixtures.

Professor Nahum Sarna, the author of what I consider one of the two most important commentaries on Genesis and Exodus, puts it this way: "The revolutionary Israelite concept of God entails His being wholly separate from the world of His creation and wholly other than what the human mind can conceive or the human imagination depict."

But if "a" God created the Earth and Nature, how can they be wholly seperate from him to begin with? It is a part of the creators blueprint.

This was extremely difficult for men to assimilate then. And as society drifts from Judeo-Christian values, it is becoming difficult to assimilate again today. Major elements in secular Western society are returning to a form of nature worship. Animals are elevated to equality with people, and the natural environment is increasingly regarded as sacred. The most extreme expressions of nature worship actually view human beings as essentially blights on nature.

Even among some who consider themselves religious, and especially among those who consider themselves "spiritual" rather than religious, nature is regarded as divine, and God is deemed as dwelling within it.

Environmentalists who consider themselves "spiritual" but not "religious" are in my estimation missing the point like I stated above. Since in my mind a supernatural power created Nature (and its powerful wonders), there is no doubt in my mind it is religious as well as spiritual. So to be spiritual is to be religious because of godly creation. It's just that spiritualists are in denial of religious creation in the form of nature.

It is quite understandable that people who rely on feelings more than reason to form their spiritual beliefs would deify nature. It is easier -- indeed more natural -- to worship natural beauty than an invisible and morally demanding God.

Here Prager is trying to say that if you have "feelings" towards nature, they must be irrational. He often uses this scenario when comparing liberals to conservatives and secularists to non-secularists. Of course he never mentions that humans naturally have all kinds of feelings when witnessing some of the more extraordinary wonders of nature.

What is puzzling is that many people who claim to rely more on reason would do so. Nature is unworthy of worship. Nature, after all, is always amoral and usually cruel. Nature has no moral laws, only the amoral law of survival of the fittest.

Theoretically speaking this is where I see Prager using a 'dumbed down' or acts of an unknowing and innocent tone. Frankly, I don't even believe he believes his words. People appreciate nature despite its obvious violence because there is much beauty in it. Prager is presenting his "it's a cruel world" so one-sided, words cannot express my anger for his deception.

Why would people who value compassion, kindness or justice venerate nature? The notions of justice and caring for the weak are unique to humanity. In the rest of nature, the weak are to be killed. The individual means nothing in nature; the individual is everything to humans. A hospital, for example, is a profoundly unnatural, indeed antinatural, creation; to expend precious resources on keeping the most frail alive is simply against nature.

I like my old answer:

"Because those same qualities are found in Nature just as Dennis says they are not. A pack of lions devouring a large prey is vicious and unforgiving. Yet when the meal is over, watching a mother lion clean her younger offspring of blood is "compassion" and "kindness" while creating "justice" in Nature by keeping a balance in the ecosystem for the survival of the fittest."

The romanticizing of nature, let alone the ascribing of divinity to it, involves ignoring what really happens in nature. I doubt that those American schoolchildren who conducted a campaign on behalf of freeing a killer whale (the whale in the film "Free Willy") ever saw films of actual killer whale behavior. There are National Geographic videos that show, among other things, killer whales tossing a terrified baby seal back and forth before finally killing it. Perhaps American schoolchildren should see those films and then petition killer whales not to treat baby seals sadistically.

The need to bring in naive schoolchildren into making ones point isn't convincing and pardon, is cheap. Of course children are not aware of the true predatory nature of whales. Yet adults, the studied age group on nature, appreciate it despite its violence. Guess which age group Prager excluded from his persuasion?

If you care about good and evil, you cannot worship nature. And since that is what God most cares about, nature worship is antithetical to Judeo-Christian values.

Nature surely reflects the divine. It is in no way divine. Only nature's Creator is.

Well, theoretically speaking again, it looks to me like Dennis Prager doesn't want you to enjoy nature at all. And frankly Dennis has no interest in the environment. (He lives in if not the most developed county in America, one of the most in LA. In other words, he doesn't live near nature.) After three years of listening to his program, he hasn't actually expressed any interest other than his passion towards environmental extremism (a leftist reactionary phenomenon). He has no pro-environmental positions (and the key operative, no passion towards the subject). I find much of his column rather self-serving to his party's ideology. No realization, or intentionally not wanting you the reader to realize, that the environment actually benefits humanity in ways (spiritual) other than just as a useful commodity.

Dennis Prager's entire writings on the environment can be diffused simply on the basis that God created nature. A religious person persuading people to dislike or to be against or find nothing of value in nature goes against a higher powers plan of environmental creation and the dependency humanity has upon it for survival.

I'm reminded of a beautiful quote Pharyngula once said on the environment:

...dolphins are great and beautiful creatures, as are spiders and sea anemones and scrub pines and E. coli. The universe is a wonderful place, huge and complex and diverse and largely independent of my existence, and I am greatly privileged to be one small but precious voice singing in a mighty cosmic choir. Embracing the majesty of existence does not make me a smaller man.

No comments: