New Utopian Vision Requires Drastic Demotion of Humans
Humans must be re-imagined, then re-made to fit the new global utopia, according to an environmental evolutionist.
Reimagining the human (Science Magazine). As Eileen Crist writes in part of Science Magazine’s “Tomorrow’s Earth” series, she forgets the horrors of past generations that tried to “re-imagine” human beings to fit an elite agenda. As usual, the elite only wants to “help” mankind avoid an imagined threat. Crist has a whopper to scare people about:
Earth is in the throes of a mass extinction event and climate change upheaval, risking a planetary shift into conditions that will be extremely challenging, if not catastrophic, for complex life. Although responsibility for the present trajectory is unevenly distributed, the overarching drivers are rapid increases in (i) human population, (ii) consumption of food, water, energy, and materials, and (iii) infrastructural incursions into the natural world. As the “trends of more” on all these fronts continue to swell, the ecological crisis is intensifying. Given that human expansionism is causing mass extinction of nonhuman life and threatening both ecological and societal stability, why is humanity not steering toward limiting and reversing its expansionism?
Who, exactly, is “humanity” that needs to take the steering wheel? Beware the reckless driver heading us off the cliff!
The rational response to the present-day ecological emergency would be to pursue actions that will downscale the human factor and contract our presence in the realm of nature. Yet in mainstream institutional arenas, economic, demographic, and infrastructural growth are framed as inevitable, while technological and management solutions to adverse impacts are pursued single-mindedly. Although pursuing such solutions is important, it is also clear that reducing humanity’s scale and scope in the ecosphere is the surest approach to arresting the extinction crisis, moderating climate change, decreasing pollution, and providing sorely needed leeway to tackle problems of poverty, food insecurity, and forced migration. The question that arises is why the approach of contracting the human enterprise tends to be ignored.
This is not only biased (assuming only her view is “the rational response”), it is very odd for a materialist to say. What other species of animal ponders what it “should” do, and decides that mass death is “rational”? Are we not all evolved primates, in Crist’s worldview? Doesn’t population genetics handle these situations automatically?
Crist doesn’t stop. With Science Magazine’s blessing, she attacks her bogeyman: the worldview that believes in human exceptionalism:
The answer lies in the deeper cause of the ecological crisis: a pervasive worldview that imbues the trends of more with a cachet of inevitability and legitimacy. This worldview esteems the human as a distinguished entity that is superior to all other life forms and is entitled to use them and the places they live. The belief system of superiority and entitlement—or human supremacy—manifests in a range of anthropocentric commonplace assumptions, linguistic constructs, institutional regimes, and everyday actions of individual, group, nation-state, and corporate actors. For example, the human is invested with powers of life and death over all other beings and with the prerogative to control and manage all geographical space. The all-encompassing manifestation of the belief system of human supremacy is precisely what constitutes it as a worldview.
She clarifies that this evil worldview is a product of the evil West. Behold, “western civilization has elaborated its most forceful, long-standing expression, and through the West’s ascendancy the influence of this worldview has spread across the globe.”
Of course Crist isn’t biased by a worldview. She, after all, is publishing in Science Magazine. Science is not a worldview; it is truth. (She might pause to read the new book by Dr J.P. Moreland about scientism.)
Having unmasked the bogeymen, Crist lists all the evil assumptions and beliefs. Her writing consists of a series of big lies, half truths, and glittering generalities. Untangle this sentence: “By operating on all these levels, the worldview of human distinction-and-prerogative obstructs the capacity to question human hegemony for the sake of Earth’s inherent splendor and in the service of a high-quality human life within a downsized, equitable global civilization nested in an all-species commonwealth.”
Wow. Utopia will come with fewer human beings on the planet, especially Westerners. They will experience “awe for this living planet” instead of treating it as a mere container of natural resources. Crist needs to get out more. Maybe she could walk into a church and listen to evangelical Christians singing, “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made….”
With catastrophe looming, Crist needs a savior. She doesn’t specifically name “global governance” or rule by an elite group of scientists, but it is doubtful her sermon will have any effect on individuals out there living like other primate mammals with only Darwinian self-interest in mind. She does speak of “global approaches” that would imply coercion. The recent riots in Paris at President Macron’s tax to combat global warming are nothing compared to the probable natural human reaction to what Crist recommends. In order to reduce the human impact on nature, she advocates draconian measures for “scaling down and pulling back,” which would include:
- reducing the overall amount of food, water, energy, and materials that humanity consumes
- making certain shifts in what food, energy, and materials are used
- lower the global population within a human-rights framework (good luck on that one!)
- shrink animal agriculture
- phase out fossil fuels
- transform an extractionist, overproducing, throwaway, and polluting economy into a recycling, less busy, thrifty, more ecologically benign economy
- vastly expanding marine protected areas
- ambitious forest, grasslands, freshwater ecologies, and wetlands protection and restoration
She will never get such things without causing an all-out war be people who refuse to believe her views and would rather fight than take her medicine. And if her side wins, there will be global totalitarianism (remember Lenin?). In the final analysis, the prospect of global governance rises in her list of policy recommendations. Realistically, these policies could only be brought about by coercion and the abandonment of human rights.
- state-of-the-art family planning services for all (including modern contraceptive technologies) [Does that include abortion?]
- universal education from the age of 4 to 17 or 18
- substantial reduction of animal-product consumption
- adoption of the reduce-reuse-recycle paradigm as an everyday norm
- massive protection of wild nature
- adoption of sustainable and ethical food production practices on land and sea
But it’s that bad old worldview of human exceptionalism that must go, she really is saying. Interestingly, her bio page says that Eileen Crist studied environmental evolution with Lynn Margulis, a bit of a maverick in Darwinism (but still an evolutionist), and subscribes to the Gaia hypothesis. Maybe that explains her use of the word “spiritual” in her ending paragraph:
To pursue scaling down and pulling back the human factor requires us to reimagine the human in a register that no longer identifies human greatness with dominance within the ecosphere and domination over nonhumans. The present historical time invites opening our imagination toward a new vision of humanity no longer obstructed by the worldview of human supremacy. Learning to inhabit Earth with care, grace, and proper measure promises material and spiritual abundance for all.
Never Listen to Just One Side
Ironically, an article called ‘Debunking the ‘population bomb'” came out on Phys.org shortly before Crist’s essay appeared. Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak, authors of a new book, Population Bombed!, dispute Paul Ehrlich’s 50-year-old scare book that warned of imminent global ecological catastrophe (which, by the way, never materialized). They also tie the recurrent scare tactic to a a hoary worry warrior who had influenced Darwin, Thomas Malthus, whose beliefs led Darwin to envision a universal struggle for existence:
Desrochers and Szurmak write in their book that the predictions of doomsters have not been borne out by reality, and this is not the time to listen to them.
Desrochers notes that “population-growth catastrophism” dates back thousands of years, although it is now mostly associated with the British economist Thomas Malthus, who wrote a book in 1798 warning that population growth would outrun the food supply. The most successful proponent of this theory in more recent times was Ehrlich, a charismatic speaker who fired up a generation of activists in 1968 with the best-selling The Population Bomb. Indeed, Desrochers says that Ehrlich was such a cause célèbre that he appeared more than 20 times on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
Fame is fleeting indeed. As they challenge “some sacred cows of the environmental movement,” Desrochers and Szurmak even favor continuing burning carbon for fuel, advice that would flabbergast Crist – and yet they affirm they are “not climate skeptics or deniers but are ‘pro-science, pro-creativity and pro-economic development.'”
Let us critique Crist’s worldview (she has one) intellectually before considering the evil fruit it could bear. It’s elitist; it’s hypocritical; and it’s illogical. It’s elitist, because Crist works a cushy job in Virginia Tech, enjoying all the freedoms and benefits of western civilization, and yet presumes to talk down to the rest of us as if we are less worthy than her. It’s hypocritical, because she would not endure one week living under her own recommendations. Let her forswear all electrical appliances, cars, and energy and give her property over to wilderness. Let her take a vow of poverty and live off the land with no energy and no clothing (which requires manufacture by use of energy), with the animals. It’s illogical, because it is self-refuting. She condemns human exceptionalism, but expects us to treat her writing as exceptional: i.e., containing moral authority and undeniable truth. How did that arise by “environmental evolution”? She plagiarizes Christian assumptions to attack the Christian worldview. Let her get her own assumptions. How about “stuff happens” as a foundational assumption? Try to build her sermon on that one!
Crist’s utopian vision is a recipe for totalitarian disaster. It sounds good in theory, like all the other ones that offered “the common good” to all, such as “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” But utopian visions never work, and often fail horrifically. Can’t you imagine a future Mao or Stalin feeling perfectly justified to eliminate large populations of “useless eaters” that are harming the ecology? Can’t you imagine a global one-child policy, or worse? Can’t you imagine “universal education” forbidding any mention of the Bible, which says God made man in his own image? The only way to achieve her vision of reducing human impact on the ecology would be to eliminate at least 50% of the human population – maybe 90%. Imagine what that would entail! The extremist professor Eric Pianka advocated spraying ebola virus from airplanes to kill off millions quickly. Bill Maher likes that, too. Why not, if “scaling down and pulling back the human factor” is the highest good? Bad ideas have bad consequences, even though the ideas may come in shiny packaging or are published by leading intellectual journals.
Only Christianity contains the worldview and values that can really achieve the tangible benefits Crist cherishes: common good, care for animals, awe of nature. Christians just need to act on what they already know. As stewards of the creation, we do have the requirement to be good stewards. But we also know it is a fallen world, filled with evil and suffering with a real devil deceiving people, and only God can save us (which He has provided through His Son, Jesus Christ). There is still good and beauty in the world, but our greatest need is deliverance from sin and Satan through Christ’s work on the cross. Spreading that message will increase the proportion of righteous humans over evil humans, and it is the righteous who will humbly seek to be good stewards over God’s creation. So Eileen, please abandon your elitist, hypocritical, and illogical program, with its guaranteed horrors, and come to Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life.