I am green. In fact, I am so green, the following post has been recycled, with some modification, about three times since I originally posted it on my now fallow Stumbleupon blog. I have thought a bit about the “new atheism” that has been gaining traction for some time as evidenced the works of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, et al, on the the best seller lists. Below are some brief thoughts on secularism and its claims on environmental stewardship. More broadly, there is the question that seeks an answer as to what foundation can a secularist build a substantial moral framework. I would assert, in reference to the aforementioned question, that materialists essentially piggyback onto the ‘moral bandwidth’ of the Judeo-Christian world-view.
Where exactly does humankind reside in the natural hierarchy? If, as the materialist would assert, we are merely a hairless ape with no more importance or than an amoeba in the greater scheme of things, how can our impact on nature, on the environment, for better or worse, be given an ethical value when that of other natural phenomena is not? Is a volcano evil when it spews ‘toxic‘ gases into the atmosphere? Does the beaver wrongly exploit the environment when it fells trees and builds dams? I have cats for pets and have observed them stalking, catching, and then toying with chipmunks that they found in the backyard. Are they cruel or are they acting in accordance with their nature? How is the drilling for oil in the ANWR wrong? How can an oil spill be `wrong‘? How can the deforestation of a rain forest be condemned? All the aforementioned are natural results of a natural action by a natural entity.
What can truly be defined as ‘unnatural‘? How can a materialist, for all intents and purposes, deify nature and then place humanity outside of nature? The point is this: Unless nature is the effect of a transcendental cause and humanity occupies a position of ascendancy over nature, one cannot coherently and rationally make moral judgments concerning humanity’s stewardship and impact on nature. Indeed, how can one derive any moral imperatives from a naturalist framework? The foundation is so plastic, so pliable, that any act can be justified within the confines of natural selection.
Think on this: Zoology Professor Pianka of the University of Texas seems to endorse the elimination of ninety percent of the human population, perhaps by Ebola, in order to preserve sustainability. He has received accolades for his ideas.