dilemma

It occurs to me that environmentalists face an interesting dilemma in their ideological outlook. Specifically, when someone attempts to make an argument for protecting the environment for any purpose other than glorifying God, they have no basis for their reasoning.

If humans are merely a natural outcome of Earth’s biological evolution, then things that humans do are entirely natural. Whether I am clubbing a baby seal to death or killing the rainforest with SUV exhaust, I’m merely excercising my rights as a natural inhabitant of the planet. Where does someone get off saying that what I’m doing is artificial, or unnatural? If I truly have no higher calling than to exist (and then to cease to exist) then how is my existence any less natural than a blue whale in the ocean?

Silly humanists. Granted, this same argument applies to everything from ethic/morality to law to economics, but it felt like a good day to pick on tree huggers.

  1. I find it very easy to justify my stance as a moderate environmentalist, and my purposes do nothing to glorify God (except, perhaps, through a wholly roundabout manner involving my personal stance on the human spirit and the interpretations of the origin thereof).

    If the environment as we know it is allowed to erode completely – that is, if the big corporations have their way and rape and pillage this great Earth of ours of every single resource it offers us – the human race as we know it will be unable to survive on this planet. At some point, it will become too difficult to modify our surroundings to compensate for what we’ve taken for human intelligence to keep up. Barring divine intervention (and it’s safe to say at this point that I don’t go for it), we’ll be up a (heavily polluted) creek with no food to eat, no water to drink, and no air to breathe. In short, dead, dead, dead.

    I may not be a tree hugger, but I am, at heart, an environmentalist. And glorifying God has nothing to do with it.

  2. I feel the need to quote a T-Shirt.

    Only when the last tree is dead, the last river dammed, the last field paved over, will we realize that we can’t eat money.

  3. As an employee of one of those “big corporations” I have to refute some of the assumptions about said “big corporations” (BC’s). It should be obvious to anyone that we care as much about preserving the environment as anyone else. In fact, we have more of a stake in it than Joe Blow Environmentalist, especially at my BC. If we did pave over every field and dam every river and cut down every tree, we wouldn’t have a product to sell. It is certainly in our best interest to preserve the environment.

    We’re learning as we go, just like everyone else. Unlike environmentalists, we understand that it takes time (and money) to change things without completely disrupting operations, and consequently, the economy. My BC pours millions of dollars into making the air cleaner, the water purer, and to eliminating waste. What have *you* done for the environment lately that’s hit *you* in the pocketbook?

  4. Also, Matt, since entropy dictates that the planet (barring divine intervention) will eventually disintegrate anyway, why do you care if it happens sooner or later? I suppose you could try to conserve as much of everything as possible so as not to speed up the process, but why bother?

    Bottom line is, there isn’t a rational basis for wanting to preserve the planet from a strictly humanistic or materialistic worldview. Somehow, some way, one always has to resort to supernaturalism or humanist mysticism in order to bring any element of unselfishness into the humanist/materialist construct.

  5. Side note: reading Matt’s blog and then flipping back to Dave’s without going somewhere in between is hard on the eyes, if your color scheme on Dave’s is “goody two-shoes.” Eye-yeye eye!

  6. I worked for Cummins Engine Co. In foreign countries such as India and the far reaches of China (which have virtually no regulations), they invested huge dollars to make things cleaner over there, when they could have gotten away with doing everything as cheaply as possible. But back to economics: Indians can’t afford (or maintain) the latest technology, so the engines they sold over there would still be considered dirty by EPA standards.

    So while Cummins is creating jobs and moving technology and society forward in India, what have the liberal protestors been doing?

  7. Personally I believe that humans are not as powerful as we think we are. Unless God lets us, we won’t be allowed to destroy the earth.

    However, I don’t think that glorifying God is the only viable reason a person could have for protecting the environment. Many people genuinely care about future generations, and generally being a responsible human being. Those are valid reasons for taking care of the environment. Maybe not to the extent some “tree-huggers” take it, but to some extent, yes.

  8. But, of course, that simply begs the question: why care about being a responsible human being? How do you define “responsible human being” and why do you define it that way? Why should you take care of future generations?

    And so on. :)

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