It is hard to comprehend that belief systems designed by people who lived several thousand years ago, are still used to justify our exploitation and abuse of the Earth. We do not have, and have never had, any sort of divine dominion over other life. What we do have, by virtue of our unique human capacities, is the ability to act as we see fit. To choose to reject the obvious conclusions of reason, in favour of blind faith in a next world better than this, is an insult to the Earth. What is it about these belief systems that seems to grant them immunity from rational criticism and that can equate faith with reason. In parts of the world the belief that the Earth was created in seven days, just a few thousand years ago, is actually gaining ground!
Much of our world is made up of curious contradictions, and the apparent paradox of faith and reason is just such a one. Without the centres of learning that grew out of the early churches we would not have the knowledge that now leads many to dismiss the notion of deity. So the worlds of science and religion have gone their separate and equally dogmatic ways, leaving common sense as the voice crying out in the wilderness. The question for us is whether these disparate ways of looking at the world, and our relationship to it, can be reconciled and made reasonable.
The best hope for this would seem to be for any beliefs we have to be grounded in ourselves and the part that we play in the process of continuous creation that science calls evolution. The laws of god so favoured by religion were written by the same hand as secular law. Indeed, no words have ever been written other than by the human hand, and it is only the claim of divine inspiration that confers the appearance of difference. As we come ever more to self aware knowledge of our own existence, it becomes more obvious that communications from the unconscious mind have previously been interpreted as other worldly.
That many people still crave meaning is illustrated by the flourishing variety of so called new age beliefs. The one interesting, and possibly hopeful, aspect of this is how many of these beliefs are grounded in a respect for the Earth. The trick for us now is to realise that in order to live in a way that recognises and makes real this respect we do not need any external belief system. What we do need is to live in such a way as to make it happen.
The purpose of this manifesto is to contribute to this process and it is, therefore, a call to action and not to faith. We must have more confidence in our ability to run our own affairs without requiring recourse to the idea of divine instruction. That we are born, live and then die is a fact that we should by now be used to. Not to ground our lives in this world or to cherish the Earth for those who come after, would seem to be a betrayal of the evolutionary process of creation that has made us what we are.
The fact that we do not all act in a pathological manner, thinking only of our own benefit, tends to the belief that what we call conscience is a development of our evolutionary progress. In considering this process it is reasonable to conclude that ever more of our cognitive abilities move from the unconscious to the conscious realm of our minds. The concept of god, deriving from the unconscious and, therefore, seeming external to our being, can be seen to be evolving to the internal personal conscience. In this way faith is made reasonable in the acceptance of full responsibility for the consequences of our actions. The imposition of external authority, anathema to many, no longer necessary, replaced by individual awareness.
I will continue posting from the Earth First Manifesto