COSMO-CENTRISM AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE VII

Our default ego- and species-centrism have naturally arisen. Their unquestioned perpetuation, however, has become a matter of cultural programming. Though I think it can be demonstrated that this is largely true of every religious expression (when we look at behavior rather than words), this is especially the case with the three “great” monotheistic religions.

The belief that the world is there for our use is an ineluctable derivative of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic creation myth. God created the world for himself, and it exists solely for his pleasure. Sentient beings fulfill this purpose through worship, bringing “glory to God”.

This is the fundamental template by which we order our own relationship with Nature. Created “in the image of God”, we are his earthly surrogates. We are exhorted to go into all the world and “subdue” it. We are a special species within creation (“a little higher than the angels”), and it exists for us to use as we wish. The idea of “stewardship” is the only accommodation toward environmental concern that this can offer, yet it remains species-centric.

Man’s first task was to “name all the animals”. Naming them, we own them. They are objectified through language and as such become wholly other than ourselves and objects for our manipulation.

Woman was an afterthought—man was lonely. She is there for man, his “helpmate”—the help. She, too, is to be subdued.

It is easy to see how millennia of this and other similar creation myths have reinforced our natural inclination toward species-and ego-centrism. They have divine sanction. Indeed, they are mandated.

Clearly the radical paradigm shift required to transform our relationship with Nature will require moving beyond our formative myths. It’s past time to grow up. It’s time for Humanity 2.0.

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