Monday, November 10, 2008

Nature and Christianity

Nature with regard to Christianity:
Thought on Sam's post HERE:

The first thing is that nature is contrasted with God; the natural stands on the one hand against the divine. Nature is something working against what is Godly, and in this sense often means “creation” or “the earth”. God created the world, but strangely the world goes against him, and God is found fighting against his own creation.

The adjective “natural”, while in one sense standing in contrast to the divine, in another sense accords with it. When “naturalness” is used in contrast to artificiality it acquires something of the divine.

When we contrast nature with man, we emphasize the physical, material aspect of Nature rather then it’s moral or spiritual aspect, which is pre-eminently involved when we contrast it with God. Nature has thus two aspects as we humans view it. Inasmuch as it is “natural”, it is Godly; but when it is material it functions against human spirituality or godliness, whatever that may mean. As long as nature is regarded as the material world, as our senses perceive it, it is something we want to conquer. Nature here faces us a kind of power, and wherever there is a notion of power it is connected with that of conquest. For man, therefore, Nature is to be conquered and made use of for his own material welfare and comfort. Nature affords him a variety of opportunities to develop his powers, but at the same time there is always on the part of man the tendency to exploit and abuse it for his own selfish ends.

The bible, as a western creation, does not cope well with the place of nature; and I’m not sure I see Hosea 4 as dealing directly with this problem (but I'm lekely wrong in that). No doubt none of this reflects your sentiments, I’m simply suggesting that Christians as a whole do not share your views, but more generally view nature as separate, not divine; also brutal, and running against the current of God.

I tend to think that the issue between man and nature exist as a result of a God who gave man dominion over the earth. Because of this we have a man who continually talks about conquering nature. Man is rational, nature is brutal, and nature should stand in accord with mans rationality.

I do most certainly agree though, that nature can turn into an idiol when standing on it's own. My argument would be, however, that it doesn't stand on it's own, and neither does man.
Chief Seattle


  1. Agree that 'nature' stands over against God - but that's because it's a secular construct. I would tend to use the word 'creation' with an implicit understanding of the dependence of creation on creator. I would also suggest (tho' I might need to do more reading) that the sense of dominion = conquering is a product of late medieval changes in philosophical theology (possibly coming in via Islam). But I need to do more thinking on that. It's certainly not a Biblical approach IMHO.

  2. But should nature stand against God? I'm thinking this is a fundamental flaw in the west. By nature I'm not specifically talking about human nature, but nature in general...

    My conception of God isn't all that Christian, and it doesn't contain the word creation, per se.

    Dominion = conquering, agreed. I'd be interested in your thoughts on that sometime in the future.

  3. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Please find a completely different understanding of the non-humans and everything "else" via these references.

    Plus anybody that talks about human beings as being separate from "creation" is really only confessing their own godlessness.

    And they are thus at war with both the Divine and everything "else" altogether.

    Hence the scenario described altogether in the Is Peace reference above.