Sunday, July 30, 2006

Environmentalism, Part 2

In my last post I stated that my interest in protecting the environment was watered by my interest in evolution. What I mean is that the claims of environmentalists make little sense to me until I got two things into my head:

  1. That humans are not a special creation, above and separate from everything else of earth. We are as natural and dependent on the earth for survival as any other creature.
  2. That God is not going to come back and destroy the earth anytime soon. So we can't treat the Earth and our resources as something disposable, something that will be destroyed soon anyway.

The first claim comes directly from an understanding that humans evolved from other forms of life just like every animal on this planet. The second follows from a naturalistic long term view of life on earth.

I have more thoughts on this for a later post . . .


I was interested in environmentalism as a kid. When I was a young teenager I watched 'Captain Planet and the Planeteers' almost religiously. It was on at 7:00 am every Saturday morning, and I'd be up to watch it. I learned some cool stuff from watching that show that I encountered later, one example being 'cruelty free' products--a way that makers of personal care products can display that their products were either not tested on animals or tested in a way that would not cause harm to the animals.

Also as a result of things I was taught about environmentalism in school, I suggested to my parents that maybe it would be a good idea to have a government program that built a recycling program into the city waste disposal. Citizens would need to sort their recyclables into different bins before setting them out. The issue my folks brought up was how to pay for it and manage it--and as I had really no idea that was the end of that discussion. (I had the suspicion that raising taxes would not be an option.) So that idea was shot right down.

For a while I lost my interest in saving the environment. For one thing, I quit watching Captain Planet after watching an episode of Northern Exposure where I found out that the character Geia, the 'Spirit of the Earth' in the show, was revered as the goddess of the Earth in some pagan religion (at least Geia was referred to as a goddess in that show). It seems silly to me now, but as a very serious Christian girl at the time, I was devastated that the show used a pagan goddess as a main character. In fact, I wondered if I could trust anything from the show.

Another thing that blunted my environmental interests was that I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh with my father. As a homeschooled girl, this was pretty much my political education in highschool. Anyway I remember that anytime Rush mentioned the word 'environmentalist' on his show, it was always proceeded by the word 'wacko'. As in, people who chain themselves to trees to keep them from being cut down, and who care more about saving the kangaroo rat than they care about the livelihoods of farmers. It has taken me a long time to get the phrase 'wacko environmentalist' out of my head.

I did not regain my interest in environmentalism until my personal values went though a complete overhaul. I would not claim that this is the same for everyone--as some Christians are avid environmentalists--but in my case what sparked my interest in environmentalism once again had a lot to do with my doubting of Christianity. More specifically, it was sparked when, partly as an act of rebellion I sneakingly brought home _Cosmos_ by Carl Sagan (sneakingly because at that time I was still afraid of my parent's disapproval. From a comment I heard Dad make after we watched the movie 'Contact' at my sis's house it was clear he did not think much of Sagan.) I would read it in my room with my door closed, and hide it whenever someone opened the door. The most memorable thing about this experience was that it was the first time I'd read a comment about evolution being a grand and wonderful thing. The idea that the theory of evolution was anything good was a complete novelty to me, and the idea fascinated me. I also found a small book called a _River out of Eden_ by Richard Dawkins. This started up a great fascination with evolution in me, and I wanted to know more.

My beginning understanding of evolution watered the seeds of environmentalism in me that had lain dormant for a long time.

This story is getting to be quite long, longer than I'd intended, so I will continue it in my next post.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Blogthings - What's Your Religious Philosophy?

You are an Atheist

When it comes to religion, you're a non-believer (simple as that).
You prefer to think about what's known and proven.
You don't need religion to solve life's problems.
Instead, you tend to work things out with logic and philosophy.

overcoming temptation

As you could see from my recent post that I titled 'temptation' I have been tempted to lay reason aside and entertain ways to accommodate irrationality--in this case in the form of astrology. I've finally bit the bullet and decided, several days ago actually, that is would just be plain dishonest for me to act like I think that there is any merit to astrology. The real temptation was to go along with peer pressure and not offend my boyfriend.

I think the limitations of reason really only come from a lack of information available to us. I strongly suspect that reason is really applicable to the whole universe--the only limitation on our part is that not all the facts are at our disposal. Since our brains are really only evolved to comprehend facts that have to do with our immediate survival really anyway (this being the reason, I think, that really advanced math is so hard to grasp), it may not help a whole lot if all the facts were at our disposal. This is a cause for humility for sure--but not a reason to entertain irrationality.

Now how to be honest about my skepticism to believers without making them think that I think they're stupid or something . . .?