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Excerpt from Dreams

Fundamental Religion of This Culture (p. 106)

From chapter "Life Wants to Live"

I want to be very clear about this. If you asked ten thousand scientists if they believed that all of evolution has taken place so that humans could come into being, I’m sure the overwhelming majority would say no. They might even laugh at the absurdity of the question. But when they were finished laughing, and got back to work, what would they do? Most likely their work consists of in some way contributing to, as Dawkins put it, science’s “spectacular ability to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command, and to predict what will happen and when.”So if you judge the answers not by what these scientists say—not by mere rhetoric—but by what they do—by their actions—the answer from an equally overwhelming majority would be a resounding yes: you cannot act as though the world consists of resources to be exploited unless you believe—deeply, oftentimes beyond conscious statement—the world was made (or evolved) for you. Just today I got into an argument with a high school science teacher who believes this culture won’t collapse, because “we will find better and better ways to exploit our resources and maintain our way of living while still protecting our forests and oceans and the rest of our environment.” Leave aside the utter lack of historical or current evidence for this possibility, and leave aside that humans have grossly exceeded carrying capacity, meaning his statement is also physically impossible, and just focus on his language: exploit; our resources; our forests and oceans; our environment. I pointed out to him that forests and oceans are not ours but that they belong to themselves, and have lives and relationships all their own. I pointed out to him that resources do not exist, that perceiving a tree or fish or river as a resource means you are, as he stated, perceiving it as something to be “exploited” and not as something with its own life and desires independent of him, that was not put here for him. No matter how many times I explained it, he could not understand. Even though he does not believe in Christianity, and even though he does not believe God created the world for him, or that God created the world at all, his belief that the world was made for him to use remains such a deeply fundamentalist article of faith that it is entirely invisible to him: from his perspective it is not faith, but simply the way the world is, and it is utterly inconceivable to him that any other way of perceiving is possible, even when at least one other way has been laid out before him. I may as well have been quacking like a duck.

The fundamental religion of this culture is that of human dominion, and it does not matter so much whether one self-identifies as a Christian, a Capitalist, a Scientist, or just a regular member of this culture, one’s actions will be to promulgate this fundamentalist religion of unbridled entitlement and exploitation. This religion permeates every aspect of this culture.