Evolutionary Environmentalist Dehumanizes People in Tree Worship
Should trees be given equal rights to people?
A dangerous trend is rooted in Darwinism.
‘Killing’ trees: How true environmental protection requires a revolution in how we talk about, and with, our forests (The Conversation, 30 Oct 2023). Sarah Abbott, an art professor at the University of Regina (not a scientist), gets the stage at this soapbox for academic nuts and flakes. Abbott loves trees (as most people do). But she thinks we need to talk to them:
Behind all discourse are systems of language, behaviour and belief. Contemporary discourse reflects and shapes people’s belief that trees are living community members or inanimate materials to be used for human well-being.
This binary gets complicated when people understand the aliveness of trees and their relations with non-human life while prioritizing human economic value and need of trees.
Beyond talking to our local trees, do we need to give them equal rights?
In 1972, American legal and environmental scholar Christopher Stone called for the rights and moral standing of trees, stating it is neither inevitable nor wise that beings of nature should have no rights, standing or voice in human society.
Rather than assume and impose that non-humans have no voice, we humans need to recognize the limitations in our capacity to listen. Discourse is not only human.
Trees have standing (they grow upright) but not in the legal sense. We don’t hear them making arguments for their existence. What motivates Abbott’s sermon to give rights to trees? Guess:
The ongoing controversy around plant intelligence links to the perception that “intelligence” cannot apply to organisms lacking organs responsible for intelligent functioning, or movement.
Conversely, renowned Italian botanist and scholar Stefano Mancuso argues that it is impossible and evolutionarily unrealistic to consider any form of life as lacking intelligence. This includes “plants, which being unable to move, must necessarily solve their problems.”
Ah yes, Darwin: the prophet for the modern pantheistic religion of emergence “gives rise to” another misanthropic Darwin Effect.
The either-or fallacy can be highly misleading. Disgust with one extreme does not justify the opposite extreme. Abbott begins by telling how the English Royal Navy had to harvest 2,000 oak trees to make a single ship in the 1700s. It is historically incontrovertible that humans have been bad stewards of the environment on many occasions. But other humans have been very good stewards of plants, animals, and trees. Is the solution to downgrade humans and worship trees? Abbott uses language exemplifying her human exceptionalism to dehumanize her fellow evolved apes.
Wesley J. Smith, a frequent contributor to Evolution News, is a good writer on problems with the “nature rights” movement and why denying human exceptionalism leads to death and suffering for both nature and people.
We don’t talk to trees because they don’t have souls. Their intelligence is programmed into their genes. The ability to “solve problems” in an oak is not by means of thinking and reasoning, but by means of operation of sensors and genetic networks created within them, that are programmed to respond to certain situations, like temperature and disease. Trees do not hold councils and elect leaders. They do not solve their problems; their problems are solved for them by design. See Brian Thomas’s ICR article about this (Nov 1, 2023).
The Bible does not condone destroying natural resources. The Earth is the Lord’s, Psalm 24:1 says. We are not owners but stewards. Anticreationists often misunderstand the Dominion Mandate of Genesis. A steward does not own, but manages, someone else’s property. We therefore have a fiduciary responsibility to our Maker to take care of what belongs to him. God authorizes us to take what we need to flourish but not wipe out his other handiwork in the process. Scientists who honor God have set a good example (see biographies).