Friday, June 2, 2017

God's Death Rattle

Several days before the orange-utan announced that the United States would leave the Paris Accords, the Great Barrier Reef off Australia was pronounced officially and irreversibly dead.  Another article at the same time described the complete ecological devastation of Borneo whose once rich and vibrant tropical forest, habitat to thousands of species, was now a strip mined, factory farmed garbage dump.  As dismaying as the pictures was the note that the human denizens seemed oblivious to the squalid, fetid, hell they were living in.

The news of Borneo and the Barrier Reef are just the latest funereal tolls of what has been obvious (at least to chipsters) for the past 20 years: the human race is destroying its one and only home.  The Paris Accords do not and will not change anything.  They are but a cynically small palliative designed to keep the environment at something just under an unlivable oven.  To anyone who understands even the rudiments of what   "ecology" means, since the word was first coined in 1866 by Ernst Haeckel, that approach is fundamentally flawed.

But the death of the Great Barrier Reef raises an even more fundamental and theological question:  How can God negate Himself?

How is that possible?

God looked upon HIS Creation and saw that every unfolding part of it was "good".  He separated day from night and saw that it was good.  He parted the waters from the land and saw that they were good.  He created fruits and seeds according to their kinds and say that they were good. He created great creatures of the sea, teeming fish and flocks of birds vaulting across the skies, and blessed them all.  He then created insects and wild animals and saw that they too were good.  He then created mankind in his own image and gave them dominion over His Work.  He did not, however, say that  it was good. 

And so it came to pass that His image, acting with His authority is undoing all of His handiwork.  How is that possible?  Is God a cosmic, childish tantarum?

Now there are those, no doubt, who will contemptuously smile and say "There is no God" and "It is just a foolish tale for children."  But the foolishness, Oh rationalist one, lies in understanding Genesis in the manner of a child.  The account of a demiurge is clearly a metaphor for the more complex truth that what we call God inheres in and vivifies that which we call Creation.  God is not separate from Creation. He is its life-force or "breath" and the question becomes how can he also become its death-rattle.

In the Grundrisse, Marx points out that the "kernel" of capitalism lies in the "primitive hand that picks the fruit."  It is human labour that commodifies and kills; that turns a living tree into a dead plank of wood for use and sale.  But that hand is God's image. 

Does God cancel himself out?   It would seem so.

©WCG 2017