Michael Soulé writes:

"Living nature is under siege: overtly and covertly, that is, physically and ideologically. The physical siege is apparent--bulldozers, chain saws, livestock, et cetera, the list goes on. The ideological siege is less apparent, cultural and mythological, and usually justifies the physical siege."

Genesis, Chapters 1-2 :The first chapter of Genesis says that humans have dominion over the earth and its creatures. How has the Pentateuch shaped our attitudes toward nature.

Read Ovid's Account of Creation (Book One) and compare it to the account in Genesis.

In the so-called modern world, different concepts of "living nature" coexist and compete. These concepts have antiquity in the story,The Epic of Gilgamesh:

  • the human-gatherer, animistic, pagan sense of divine oneness
  • unpredictable and evil bully, a formidable force causing random inconvenience and catastrophes, even anarchy and barbarism
  • aging and reluctant provider, a supply depot producing food, minerals, fresh water, pharmaceuticals, and other services
  • wild kingdom, the venue of the trophy, camcorder, TV documentaries, and ecotours
  • open-air gymnasium, ski slope, river rapids, mountain ascent, overcoming, winning, and domination
  • new age temple, vision quest, drumming, dancing, rite of passage, sense of integrity and identity, living nature is a divine setting--a temple--where one learns about the self
  • wild other or divine chaos, no concern for human beings other than when wild animals perceive us as a dangerous predator or as a possible food item
  • Gaia, the view that living nature is homeostatic (tendency to maintain internal stability) and self-regulating
  • biodiversity, the living nature of the contemporary Western biologist

The list is not comprehensive. It merely demonstrates our occupations and preoccupations, which includes subcultural worship, various levels of affluence, and degrees of contact with natural habitats, in short the extraordinary ranges of human civilization.

One of the explanations for the coexistence of such fragmented of nature is collective ignorance, both cultural and naturalistic, about our world.

Soule writes: "Many human beings are still pre-Darwinian in their understanding of natural selection (and in their faith in the wide range of fundamentalist doctrines), pre-Hellenistic in their command of logic, pre-Bernoullian in their grasp of probability, pre-Mendelian in their understanding of genetics, and pre-Modern in their humility before the dissipative significance of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Most people moreover being unaware of Malthus, are oblivious to the implacability of geometric population growth in the world where resources increase arithmetically."

Overcoming ignorance:


Hellenistic Greece--http://www.showgate.com/medea/grklink.html


Gregor Mendel--http://www.stg.brown.edu/webs/MendelWeb/Mendel.plain.html#sB

Second Law of Thermodynamics--http://www.panspermia.com/seconlaw.htm

Thomas Malthus-- http://www.stg.brown.edu/projects/hypertext/landow/victorian/history/Malthus.html and