Originally posted: http://bendench.blogspot.com/2009/05/on-nature.html
Before there was God, there was nature. After God died, nature remained.
All gods that have ever existed have been the attempts of human beings to anthropomorphize nature or the forces of nature in an attempt to deal with their world. The Abrahamic God behind the Universe is not fundamentally different from a god behind the sun, a god behind the storm, a god behind the sea, etc. In every instance it is human beings putting a human face on something which they do not understand. All gods are a metaphor for something which is more godly than any God: life itself. Remove life from God and what does God become? A shadow. A monster. Death personified. “The will to nothing pronounced holy!”
Before the rise of the city-state and industrialized society, before we turned away from the rest of nature and starting looking in, only to ourselves, we were more integrated with our environment—with the earth, with other species, with each other, with our bodies. Humanity felt connected with the rest of life. This was Eden.
The rise of agriculture and the city-state allowed for tremendous amounts of people to be supported by smaller and smaller amounts of land. We were surrounded not with other forms of life, but only with humanity and the products of humanity. Our gods became less “natural” and more “human” (Ares, Venus, Horus, Odin, etc, are all expressions of different aspects of human nature1)—and eventually less “human” and more “abstract.” Cut from nature, our gods became transcendent, and monolithic. We no longer felt the interconnection of life all around us. We had to look inside and imagine a point above it all—outside of the world of desperation we had created. God became “one” because divinity became too sterile to exist in abundance. We, looking in toward ourselves, decided that a “Great Human,” like ourselves, must have forged the world the way we forge machines. We did not grow out of nature—nature was built by us.
Nature became an enemy, a threat, an outside. Whereas once living in harmony and balance with other forms of life was our goal, now our goal became one of dominance, self over other. Other forms of life—even other human beings—became threats to be harnessed or destroyed. The rise of the Newtonian mechanistic worldview represented the dominance and instrumentality of the natural world—what was considered, essentially, to be God’s machine—by the human mind and rationality. The God that had detached itself from its base, which was nature, was not long for this world. Having already become one, and transcendent, it now became more abstract and distant. Thus was deism born. But even this was not for long, and this abstract God, less and less relevant, finally died, leaving atheism as the natural result of this process of transcendence. Science turned back to nature and the study of nature, not as God’s machine, but as a self-contained and closed system. But though God had died, the values that had given birth to God remained, and the world was now viewed not as a vibrant and vital organism, but as a more or less disenchanted mechanism—certainly no source for spiritual fulfillment. We came to look at nature as something stupid and empty. God, paradoxically, became the articulation for many of the essence of life, and so a world without God meant to them a world without hope—a conclusion they sought desperately to avoid through any means necessary.
“Your spirituality is one of death” speak the shamans and other keepers of the old ways “for you can only have true spiritual connections with things that actually exist—not with any Great Human forger of the world, which is only a product of your imagination."2