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Pmt111500

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On an environmental religion.
« on: March 03, 2013, 08:58:22 AM »
The religions of the world have a large influence on earthly matters. The AGW and it's consequences might cause some strain to some belief systems, as many projections state earth and the habitat for humanity may enter physical conditions not seen by any people before. So there may be a need to seek out new and old  ideas about environment and religion, a 'critical assessment of man's place in the multiverse', if you will.

Thus, it might be useful to have a discussion thread dedicated to a speculative religion that would have environmental ideas as it's central theme. Though, I guess, the evil of man (present in many extant religions too) cannot be wholly eradicated in this either, there might be some ways to treat this problem differently from extant religions. So, what are environmental sins, how might the speculative religion treat these, and many other questions relating to the man's place on earth, relation to nature and each other. Please restrict POV-pushing for specific extant religions to other threads. Ideas from other religions are welcome, though.
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gfwellman

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2013, 09:16:27 AM »
There is an existing religion (of which I am not a member) that I think qualifies quite well as an environmental religion.  Druidism.  Before you laugh, I'm not talking about medievalists dancing around oak trees in their skivvies.  There's this guy, John Michael Greer, who is the head of the AODA (Ancient Order of Druids in America) and a prolific author http://www.amazon.com/John-Michael-Greer/e/B001IOFELW.  Some of his books are based in the occult, but most are actually straightforward works of scholarship - history, economics and psychology.  For example, titles like "Not the Future We Ordered: The Psychology of Peak Oil and the Myth of Eternal Progress" and "The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered".  Anyway, he also has a blog that he publishes weekly http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/ and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in life after fossil fuels.

Glenn Tamblyn

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2013, 09:35:48 AM »
A lot of older types of religions - multiple gods and spirits embodying the forces of nature - will have had some things appropriate to this. But they didn't have much to say about human beings being forces of nature themselves. Hinduism might fall into this category

Buddhism perhaps has some good stuff, all that modest humility stuff.

I have always had an interesting take on Christianity, particularly the Flood story (I'm not Christian, just an interested observer living within a sort of Christian society)

God had a dummy spit. Didn't like what we were doing, so he trashed the place. Then he said to Noah 'Your OK, I like the cut of your jib' So as a 'reward' he gave Noah and his descendents a job to do.

'I just trashed the place. I'd like you to fix it'.

But God wasn't that nasty, he gave Noah some advice. 'Be Fruitful and Multiply and Replenish the Earth and Subdue it'

Leaving aside the morally dubious bit about subduing things basically God said:

'Your job is the Replenish the Earth. But if you want some advice for free, the best way to go about doing that is to be Fruitful and Multiply'. The End and the Means.

So Noah and co. did just that. They did the Fruitful and Multiplying thing up the Wazoo. And they did replenish the Earth. A long time ago.

But the problem was, God didn't tell them what to do once the job was done! And he never came back.

Maybe he assumed we would be bright enough to figure out that the Fruitful and Multiplying thing was only a temporary measure, special rules during the Replenishment phase. But of course you wouldn't keep on doing it forever! That would just UnReplenish things again. Surely we were bright enough to figure that out?

Maybe Christians need to think a little less about what God said, and a little bit more about what he meant!

Amaranthus

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2013, 12:29:34 PM »
The newest old religion in the world would be Wicca.  It's pretty much a portmanteau for everything historically pagan.  Pick your preferred deity form, do some research into what few historical practices are documented and interpolate the rest.

It's highly adaptable and easy to borrow from.  The 'sacrificed god who rose again' myth is a lot older than Jesus.  That would be why the majority of Christian festivals and holy days are the same time of year as the old pagan ones, Easter/Ostara for example, or Midwinter Solstice/Christmas.  All Saints Day was an attempt to supplant good old All Hallows Eve (Samhain/Hallowe'en). 

Personally the only deity I believe is is Murphy of Murphy's Law fame, he's a nasty sort and if I have to gamble on what he's gonna do next, I try to stack the deck in my favour and have a plan in place when it all goes to heck. 

Also (related) I grow some of my own vegetables in deep raised beds on top of contaminated land and come from a long line of northern farmers.   Frieslanders who moved to Canada, not a climatic improvement even if there is a lot more space without having to drain it first.  Too much sun, too much rain, +35C in July, sleet in May, +28C in April...followed by -10C two days later.  The jet stream going wonky is not going to improve this situation.

Odd how the chanciest profession is also the most vital to anyone who needs to eat regularly and has the most religious holidays attached.  People spent a lot of time praying over the crops in the old days.

Pmt111500

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2013, 07:17:25 AM »
OWS journal provides a view that might belong here: http://climatechangepsychology.blogspot.fi/2013/03/ows-new-declaration.html

but anyway, it seems to me that a religion that abandons the physical realities when it interfaces with the real world, cannot be the sole jurisdiction on earthly matters. removing daily problems in life to some sort of afterlife via religion may interfere with peoples choices a to tackle with the problem. The solace in some religions is the rebirth, that might be applicable to environmental religion too, in the sense that what is left of you gets recycled (f.e. in incineration or decomposing of the body) to other parts of life, will not be a solution to violence since the war might then be seen as a way to speed up the recycling of carbonaceous matter and might be extended to the H.Harrisons' 'brave new world'  (Make Room! Make Room!) Soylent Green.
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frankendoodle

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2013, 01:51:07 AM »
The teachings of Christ are very environmental. Most of his followers believe however that they can do what they want to God's Creation and Jehovah will fix it. I was taught at the grammar school level by a Franciscan order who taught us that we were stewards of the Earth and were meant to take care of it and our animal brothers.

But Faith, Blood and Politics will always take a backseat to people's financial interests.

opensheart

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2013, 11:13:05 AM »
As we look forward, a good number of us see a dark cloud.   Dark enough that we begin to ask questions like 'what did we do wrong?'   Sometimes that question extends beyond the science of producing too much Green House Gasses and upsetting the planetary balance.   Sometimes that question probes deeper, down to what beliefs lead us towards this mess.   

Hence this thread about an environmental religion on an otherwise scientific site.

Since the subject has been broached,  I would like to contribute some stewings of mine.   Thoughts that have been percolating in my head for years.   

I have noticed it seems most of the religious energy seems to believe in a single Godhead.   A single all powerful, all knowing being.   This being is the top.   Below is a hierarchy of beings from top to bottom.   It is implied that the top being has everything and the bottom beings have nothing.  Or perhaps even less than nothing as even what they have is taken away.

This structure appears to have been deeply engrained in humanity for centuries, if not millennia. 

I would suggest this forms a deep, fundamental need to climb to the top.   To rise out of the bottom layers.   To move upwards.   One way to do this is to aquire power,control,stuff.

Hence I would suggest that a focusing focusing power, knowledge, ownership up to a single top point, leads us all into an over-consuming, always wanting to own more lifestyle.    Which appears to be a driving force behind our consumption of the planet and shifting of its systems.

Hence I would suggest that an environmental religion would be one that decentralizes power, knowledge, ownership, control.   

Several older religions appear to have Pantheons.  Where divinity was divided and spread between a host of separate Gods and Goddesses.    No one god was everything, no one god  had everything.   Thus no one person would have everything.  And perhaps people would be more accepting of the role they were born in.   

But ultimately this system seemed to still give way to the single divinity concept of today.  Therefore, I would suggest an even further distribution of divinity may be necessary.

Which leads me to conceive and suggest a new structure.

Instead of Divine Personhoods,  single or multiple,  what if Divinity was comprised of the souls of every being that had ever lived?   That each person contributed one 'personhood worth' of divinity to the whole?    That there was no hierarchy in this lake, sea or ocean of soul energy.   It was more of a stew.   Where anyone who tried to climb up just sank down.   The most you could be is just a small part of the whole.

Thus ultimately there was no top to climb up to.   Ultimately there was no reason/concept of owning/controling/knowing everything.  No more than a single piece of vegetable could own the whole stew.    Ultimately there was nothing greater than a single personhood.   And that the purpose of life would be to take what ever person-parts one had, and mold them and shape them into the best personhood possible.   So that one contributed the best of what your species could be to the whole instead of contributing the worst.

Perhaps if such a system was deeply embedded in our symbol set, we would structure our world far differently...

Dromicosuchus

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2013, 02:01:33 AM »
I've sometimes wondered what a religion sincerely founded on the Cthulhu Mythos would be like.  Not a religion like the cults that Lovecraft and the others in his circle were so fond of throwing about, with the standing stones and the sacrificing and the throwing open of the gates of the world to the Great Old Ones; I mean a belief tradition that held that the Great Old Ones were real, but that sided with humanity over Yog-Sothoth and company.

Of course, you can't actually win against the Great Old Ones (that little steamboat anecdote is a dirty rotten lie spread by dirty rotten Nodens-worshippers, I say!), so most of such a faith's traditions would be focused on avoiding their attention.  Any activities which massively transformed the face of Earth or which would allow unfriendly alien eyes to deduce that intelligent life had arisen here would be avoided.  So, no massive deforestation, no large scale habitat destruction, and no uncovering things that had long remained covered (like, say, Greenland or Antarctica, or even the bedrock under ancient glaciers).  Perhaps most importantly, nothing must be done that might change the radiation emitted by or reflected off of Earth--like, say, suddenly dimming the planet in the IR by pumping CO2 up into the atmosphere.  Radio, oddly enough, wouldn't be that much of an issue; it would just have to be carefully aimed, so that no beams ended up striking the ionosphere at an angle that allowed them to head out to space. 

It wouldn't be a religion of luddites, I don't think, or at least not in totum.  Technology, after all, allowed the Elder Things to stand against Cthulhu himself, and allowed the Great Race of Yith to jump through time, avoiding all dangers--including, I imagine, the attention of quasi-deities (notably, the Great Race is the only prominent alien civilization in Lovecraft's writings which is not described as worshipping any of the Great Old Ones--presumably because they knew better).  An Earthly religion that believed in such beings might well hope that, by biding their time and encouraging quiet scientific exploration, they might someday reach the same level and be able to stand openly and unafraid on the Galactic stage.  In the meantime, they would be as quiet as possible, focused on advancing themselves without disturbing Earth noticeably.

Of course, there are some problems with this particular idea, chiefly that a faith that focuses heavily on the expansion of human knowledge is going to end up disproving its own key tenets fairly quickly.  Then again, there are and have been plenty of fine scientists of multiple different religions, many or all of which must be false, and yet they manage to potter on happily enough, apparently rationalizing away any contradictions they may come across.  Maybe a religion based on a sincere belief in the existence of Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth, Cthulhu, Hastur, and all the rest wouldn't self-destruct.

And Murphy would, of course, be feared and loathed as one of the many avatars of Nyarlathotep.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2013, 03:14:57 AM »
I have noticed it seems most of the religious energy seems to believe in a single Godhead.   A single all powerful, all knowing being.   This being is the top.   Below is a hierarchy of beings from top to bottom.   It is implied that the top being has everything and the bottom beings have nothing.  Or perhaps even less than nothing as even what they have is taken away.

This structure appears to have been deeply engrained in humanity for centuries, if not millennia. 
I can't remember what my source was, or even how much certainty to put on the information - but I seem to recall reading once that there was a big shift in religious thinking thousands of years ago from matriarchal communal religions to patriarchal hierarchical ones.

Indeed I have to wonder (assuming this shift happened) if it was perhaps tied in with the rise of human settlements following the proliferation of agriculture, and reflecting the increasing control of humans over their immediate environment and the need to find structures that would permit the governance of increasingly large societies where a communal approach starts to break down as people become increasingly less familiar with each other and it is no longer the case that all members of the tribe intimately know all other members (as would likely have been the case for most of human history when people would necessarily have been smaller groups of hunter gatherers).

But ultimately this system seemed to still give way to the single divinity concept of today.  Therefore, I would suggest an even further distribution of divinity may be necessary.

Which leads me to conceive and suggest a new structure.

Instead of Divine Personhoods,  single or multiple,  what if Divinity was comprised of the souls of every being that had ever lived?   That each person contributed one 'personhood worth' of divinity to the whole?    That there was no hierarchy in this lake, sea or ocean of soul energy.   It was more of a stew.   Where anyone who tried to climb up just sank down.   The most you could be is just a small part of the whole.

Thus ultimately there was no top to climb up to.   Ultimately there was no reason/concept of owning/controling/knowing everything.  No more than a single piece of vegetable could own the whole stew.    Ultimately there was nothing greater than a single personhood.   And that the purpose of life would be to take what ever person-parts one had, and mold them and shape them into the best personhood possible.   So that one contributed the best of what your species could be to the whole instead of contributing the worst.
I always thought that described Buddhism, though on looking it up, it seems to have quite a bit of other clutter in it. Still the question is surely one of beliefs - the belief that God created man in his own image and set him dominion over the Earth, is a great example of a dreadful belief to indoctrinate with.

I think it is valid to note that religion, psychology and culture are extremely powerful things - and actually stand at the root of a lot of the problems we have today, including climate change. People are in general patently incapable of thoroughly understanding their world and arguably require some form of indoctrination to provide both governance and a framework for them to relate to. I know this sounds somewhat negative - but it is arguably a strategy for maintaining coherent functioning in larger groups of individuals - and therefore potentially necessary. The rule of law and order - and of religion - are achieved by implanting in every mind a little policeman/priest that ensures compliance (it is impossible for the few at the top to control the many more directly due to numerical inferiority).

I actually have an aspiration (when I should have time, ha ha) to sit down and try to derive the principles of a religion that would ensure people didn't continue to destroy their habitat and in the very long term would in fact act in a manner helpful to restoring the planet to wider habitability (if enough people sank enough carbon for enough time - would it not help restore the atmosphere somewhat?). As such I could foresee dictats such as:
- an understanding of sustainable principles, eg do not overharvest a resource
- the preservation and planting of trees
- the production of biochar and enrichment of the soil with it

Of course it would be ideal if we could live in an age of grand enlightenment where everyone sufficiently understood things to act appropriately with full understanding of why - but (especially) if we are facing collapse and massive regression, I think this is a very optimistic hope and will accept religious indoctrination and blind faith as a second best (if the outcome in the end is similar enough).

If anyone with insight into the role of religions in shaping civilisations has any views on how to approach the creation of such a religion (assuming a group of people acting as a blank canvas), or into the actual tenets that the religion should be based upon (which at the core must be simple and easily remembered eg ten commandments style) I'm all ears...

Actually, I'm also interested in modes of governance - a related issue. Is it even possible to have a very long running (thousands of years) civilisation without it being a monarchy where power is transferred by birthright?

Dromicosuchus

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2013, 08:42:22 AM »
ccgwebmaster:  Regarding the governance question, I don't think anyone knows--but there might be a way to find out.  Suppose one tried to design an evolutionary government that incorporated natural selection into the formation of its own laws and internal structure?  It would be tricky to figure out how to designate the parameters of its "environment," and difficult to manage the requirement that there be a population for natural selection to act upon.  Perhaps a large number of individual provinces, each modifying their own laws slightly based on "mutations" and random exchanges with other such provinces?  That still leaves the issue of how to manage the overarching government, which would need a population of similar bodies to produce an effective framework for it, but perhaps that could be done by comparison with the wellbeing of other states.  Think of it as something similar to Adam Smith's invisible hand, only as a system that works empirically rather than just hypothetically.  It'd be tricky to figure out how exactly to arrange it, but it might end up ultimately producing a system far more effective than any that humanity has ever designed.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2013, 01:54:31 AM »
ccgwebmaster:  Regarding the governance question, I don't think anyone knows--but there might be a way to find out.  Suppose one tried to design an evolutionary government that incorporated natural selection into the formation of its own laws and internal structure?  It would be tricky to figure out how to designate the parameters of its "environment," and difficult to manage the requirement that there be a population for natural selection to act upon.  Perhaps a large number of individual provinces, each modifying their own laws slightly based on "mutations" and random exchanges with other such provinces?  That still leaves the issue of how to manage the overarching government, which would need a population of similar bodies to produce an effective framework for it, but perhaps that could be done by comparison with the wellbeing of other states.  Think of it as something similar to Adam Smith's invisible hand, only as a system that works empirically rather than just hypothetically.  It'd be tricky to figure out how exactly to arrange it, but it might end up ultimately producing a system far more effective than any that humanity has ever designed.
That's an interesting idea - but I wonder if it in effect it's exactly what has happened implicitly over the course of history?

It's a little hard to separate evolution and design if you have a conscious process guiding the choices and changes. If it was strictly operating as evolution does though, I'd question whether or not evolution necessarily results in superior solutions. Consider all the compromises made parts of the human anatomy for example? Evolution primarily changes existing structures which limits it somewhat and arguably makes certain outcomes unlikely or impossible (as a path to the outcome must exist and be found). That isn't exactly to disparage evolution as clearly we understand the earth and life very poorly indeed.

As for invisible hands - a thought that crossed my mind was that perhaps one needs something like the Second Foundation (if one has ever read the Isaac Asimov series - Foundation and Empire). A shadow order dedicated to keeping civilisation on track by nudging the course of history at key points (albeit likely not entirely infallible itself). It isn't quite the same thing as wielding day to day power, but nonetheless could shape the course of history in alignment with a particular agenda (a civilisation that could be long lived, ecologically sound and ultimately technologically developed).

Acts5v29

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2013, 12:00:16 PM »
Good morning,

I don't know how "specific-extant religion POV pushing" this might seem - I don't belong to or agree with religions - but I think you might find this relevant.

The climate crisis is pertinent to existing concepts of Divine oversight, even though religions publicly denounce this. The first ever prophecy was to say that Mankind could not survive without such - thats already in verifyably ancient texts, so there's no demand on 'belief' needed - and the climate is proving the point. Essentially, although not caused by a higher power, the climate crisis lies in a context which was foreseen. We see how terrible the crisis is, and it caputres our attention like a rabbit in oncoming headlights, but the issue has always been about us, our intransigence; the climate just happens to be the touchstone if you like.

As for 'invisible hands' ccgwebmaster, I think we need guidance rather than 'day-to-day wielded power' as you so rightly say - not so much for those here who already see the dangers, but to help remove the kind of attitude which hinders good governance.

Pmt111500

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2017, 05:25:47 AM »
Politics has taken a major section of the Rest currently. It is is no surprise of course given the administration of the Trumpistan is fighting against many sensible policies and apparently believing that lying to the people is good governance. Me, believing lies are not good, thought to find this thread and ask of the various religions opinions on lies.
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TerryM

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2017, 07:10:26 AM »
Politics has taken a major section of the Rest currently. It is is no surprise of course given the administration of the Trumpistan is fighting against many sensible policies and apparently believing that lying to the people is good governance. Me, believing lies are not good, thought to find this thread and ask of the various religions opinions on lies.
We of the Pastafarian Persuasion believe in Absolute Truth as Revealed by the One True FSM. All other, so called faiths, superstitions, religions, and creeds, are of course simply lies. Lies concocted by the unscrupulous to fleece the incredulous. As Trump has not yet demonstrated our secret, and wholly holy handshake, we assume that even though he does exhibit a good Piratical nature, his words, like yours, must be assumed to be nothing but lies, distortions and fabrications.
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Pmt111500

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Re: On an environmental religion.
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2017, 09:48:29 AM »
Ðau shælt not beö fools witness of þai neiböö

For some definitions of witness and neighbor, this might not apply to christians in most situations. I guess this goes back to 4th century when state and church were first unified.

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