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By EATWOT International Theological Commission
The current world economic and productive system, and the way of life of the capitalist civilization, are the main causes of the "sixth great extinction of life" on this planet. Starting from this vision that we take for granted here -whose data can be found anywhere-, we enter into a theological judgment of this situation.
Our thesis is that this destiny of destruction towards which it seems that we are heading, will not be able to remedy, by themselves, neither capital, nor politics, nor institutional religions; They will only be able to do so if they are joined by a change in religious mentality - a task typical of theology.
Today, religion remains the most profoundly mobilizing force in the world's population. Even those who declare themselves outside of institutional religions are not free from a basic religious vision that essentially conditions their way of seeing the world and of seeing themselves. We maintain that only a change in this "deep" (religious) way of seeing, only a change in that "vision", can make the survival of Humanity possible, because we will only stop destroying nature when we discover its divine dimension and our natural character. .
We explain ourselves:
I. It has been a traditional religious vision that has made it possible for us to arrive at this situation.
a) The image of the world-cosmos that we have traditionally had was ...
- a «tiny» image, due to our lack of scientific knowledge (we were supplying our ignorance with imagination and mythical thinking),
- contemplated nature as a mere "stage" for the representation of human drama;
- religion (which is a relationship of the human being with God) was conceived and lived with his back to nature.
- matter has traditionally been considered as something inferior, inert, devoid of life by itself, sustained in being only by God, deprived by itself of all value that was not given to it by God,
- and it was considered as the ontologically inferior region, the place of imperfection, of evil, of the "flesh", of sin ...
- being the object of a dualistic vision that separated her and deprived her of any intrinsic relationship with the spiritual and with the divine.
b) The traditional image that we have had of ourselves presented us as beings superior to the rest of nature;
In reality, we did not believe we were really natural, but rather "super-natural", endowed with a superior life that would be our main consistency (the "image and likeness of God" in which we were created, being sons and daughters of God -of an eminent way, only us-, the grace of God of our souls…).
In reality we would not be from this world, from this Earth, because we were created apart, when the whole scenario was prepared, directly by God, which means that we do not come from this Earth, but we come from above, and from outside ... and We do not feel in this world as at home, because here we are just passing through, walking towards heavenly eternal life ...
This radical disparity and opposition between nature and us made us put the human above everything else: anthropocentrism, by which all natural reality has been seen in terms of the human being. Lynn White denounced it with a lapidary phrase: Judeo-Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion.
We would be the protagonists of history, the chosen species, the only one to be taken into account, the one to which all the others have to serve (speciesism).
For this reason, we have seen nature as something to be dominated (a domain to which the God of Genesis himself invited us), as a storehouse of supposedly infinite, inexhaustible resources.
c) The traditional image of God
It seems that since the Neolithic, agrarian civilization transformed its perception of divinity:
- distinguishing it and separating it from nature, dispossessed it of all sacredness, displacing divinity towards transcendence,
- that he would inhabit the world of ideas (Plato), the true, perfect, superior world, installed on top of ours -which depends on him-,
- and configured her as theos, a dominating, masculine, warrior, patriarchal divinity ...
Here too dualism pervaded everything: two floors in reality, two entirely unbalanced poles (a actually "monistic" dualism, because of the two poles only one concentrates the whole being and all potentialities, the other being pure passivity, receptivity and negativity.
This transcendence of God - pure spirit, total Creator, entirely differentiated from the cosmos, Lord, Kyrios ... - has justified us humans - created in his image and likeness - to share something of his transcendence and all his dominion over nature.
(This was not the image of God that the Palaeolithic human being had, who lived in great harmony with a Nature considered divine, Pachamama, the Great Mother Goddess respected and revered nurturing. Where was it, at what moment in our history did we make mistakes and twist Our path? Today analysts seem to agree: we took a wrong path after the agrarian revolution, and now is the time to straighten out our path).
Well, this religious, traditional and hegemonic vision for millennia in the West is what has made possible the emergence and consolidation of a predatory civilizational system, enemy of Nature, responsible for the ecological disaster towards which we are heading.
The main cause has not been the ill will of some people or peoples, but the set of theoretical elements (religion, beliefs, theologies ...) that have allowed and justified this derogatory, exploitative and predatory conception towards nature.
This negative attitude has seen its harmful effects multiply by rapidly increasing the human population on the planet and by exponentially developing human technological capabilities, which have been put almost exclusively at the service of profit. What in past centuries was easily assimilated damage to the planet, today is truly an "eco-cide": many analysts agree that this civilization and its option for the current type of development They have made it incompatible with the survival of the planet and of us on it. We are really, quite literally, on the way to self-extinction.
For all these reasons, we will only stop destroying nature - and thereby destroying ourselves - when we replace that harmful "vision" that was inoculated to us through religion. As long as we keep the old vision, the best technological means will continue to serve profit and prey on nature. Only with a new vision will he be able to remedy - if we manage to arrive in time - to ecocide. And no one like religion, which educated generations and generations by instilling in them the most basic images and visions, will be able to replace the old vision with a new one, to instill as effectively as religions. Nobody like her has so much responsibility in the current situation and, likewise, nobody has so much potential to do so.
But what is that new vision? The one that has been brewing in recent times:
II. The new vision that can enable the survival of life on the planet.
a) A new image of the world
The new cosmology is revolutionizing the image we had of the world, which we now see as a cosmos not still but in total movement, in continuous expansion, in a process of evolution, with qualitative leaps, autopoiesis, appearance of emergent properties ...
The new physics reveals that matter is not an inert rock, but that matter and energy are convertible, that matter has interiority, that from matter (not from above or from outside, but from within) life springs up, that Life tends to continually become more complex, to recreate and reinvent itself ...
A new understanding makes us discover the error in which we have been in considering nature as an immanence devoid of transcendence, sacredness, divinity ... These dimensions cannot be expanded to an abstract and metaphysical "transcendence" that we have imagined. The only transcendence that we can accept today is deeply immanent.
God cannot be outside, nor before cosmic reality, but in it. The cosmos, in some way, becomes like the body of the Spirit.
There is no supernaturality and sacredness if it is not in the interiority of reality: it is reality itself that is sacred, that which is divine, the "Holy Matter" (Teilhard de Chardin).
Saving distances and romanticisms, today it seems to us that we must retrace the process of desacralization and disenchantment to which we have subjected nature through rationalization and scientism, by degrading it from the sacredness and divinity with which our own species has created it. revered for many millennia (Paleolithic) and continues to venerate it in many peoples whose cultures are opposed to rationalism and scientism.
The new vision of the world radically overcomes the dualism between immanence and transcendence.
b) A new image of ourselves
Realizing that we do not come "from above nor from outside", but "from within and from below" ... Our age is 13.730 million years. We were all born with the big bang. Since then, all the phases, each one of the milestones in the evolution of the cosmos is part of our "cosmic sacred history", which is, from the outset, an ancestral Grace ...
We have not been "created from nothing", by a god-theos separated from the cosmos, who would then have placed us on an earthly stage "created in five days" ... only destined to represent the drama of the "history of salvation (human ) »To undergo a test and go on to a different life ... This traditional and deeply rooted image is false, and we also see that it hurts us ...
We are "stardust" -literally such, without metaphor-, formed in the explosion of one of the supernovae, we are concretely Earth, Earth-Matter, self-organized, which has come to life, and has come to have consciousness, to feel, to thinking ... we are an «emergent species» that brings together the three animal brains - the primary reptile, the most elaborate of mammals, and the cerebral cortex that characterizes us ... - and all the autopoietic effort of the evolution of life ... We are one more species, although very peculiar, that does not have the right to disparage other living, sentient and intelligent beings in its own way, but must, by reason of the greater knowledge that it has been given, take charge of promoting with its intelligence harmony and good living and good coexistence of all living beings on this planet.
We are therefore not a different reality, essentially spiritual, superior, alien to this Earth. We are fully telluric, deeply natural, the last and most recent flower -for now- of evolution in this corner of the cosmos, an evolution that now, in us, takes a leap and becomes cultural and of deep quality ...
From this point of view, the human person can no longer be considered with the absolute character with which it has been proudly considered ("social doctrine of the Church").
We are interrelated with everything, in an absolutely interdependent network. By destroying nature we destroy our home, our nutritional base, we destroy ourselves.
c) A new vision of divinity ...
The patriarchal, spiritual, immaterial, cosmic, almighty god-theos, sir, kyrios ... not only is it no longer credible for many people, but we also discover it is an image that has done us and continues to do a lot of damage, because it has justified contempt and the predation of nature.
The correct image of God can no longer be found only in Revelations, the "second book" (Saint Augustine) that God wrote, but in "the first", reality, the cosmos, a book that in the last 300 years has been known to us. open in an unimaginable way, with authentic "revelatory value" (Thomas Berry).
An error about the cosmos results in an error about God (Thomas Aquinas): the immense errors and the great ignorance that we have had about the cosmos, matter and life, has had to result in great errors about divinity. Today we can intuit in a much more certain way the divine face of the cosmos, its divine soul, a new face of God, who encourages in everything.
The God-theos-kyrios who has accompanied us so imposingly for millennia, we discover today that he is simply a "model" with which we have tried to cope with the intuition of sacredness, debating in the dark with the Mystery, and frequently confusing beliefs , symbols and maps as if they were realistic descriptions of a second story ...
For a growing number of people, theism is not only incredible, but it is increasingly pointed out as the cause of the desecration of the world (by expanding divinity towards a meta-physical transcendence), of the deification of the human being, of his over / de-naturalization, and its drift to become the greatest current enemy of life on the planet.
Theism (and likewise atheism) must give way to a certain post-theistic attitude. The divinity of reality, or the Ultimate Reality, should no longer be conceived according to the model of theos, nor according to our own model (anthropomorphic theism); perhaps they can be viewed for a time according to the biomorphic model of life: what we see in the evolutionary mystery of life somehow reveals to us some real trait of the Godhead.
Panentheism (literally "God in everything, everything in God") is accepted today - aware that nothing is a new dogma, nor a definitive interpretation - as the most acceptable model for this ecozoic era (Berry) or the Anthropocene (Boff and others). A divinity that is not outside, that is not someone like us, nor a Lord ... but the ultimate Reality that animates the body of the cosmos, Reality itself seen from the mystery of sacredness that surrounds it from within ...
A divinity, therefore, whom we no longer find by distancing ourselves from matter, from earth or from life, but who impels us to find it passionately in them.
Our survival and that of many species on this planet is at risk, and the danger is getting closer every day.
Ultimately, it has been a certain religious vision that has led us here, and it has been the same religious vision that has made capitalism possible, today hegemonic in the globalized economic system.
Another religious vision is essential to redirect our current path towards disaster.
It is religions, and specifically theology, who have the greatest responsibility for the past, and a great capacity to face the urgent task of changing our vision.
We will only stop destroying nature and self-destruction when we endow ourselves with a new vision that makes us aware of the divine dimension of nature and of our fully and inevitably natural character.
All of which is an urgent task of planetary theological education.
Source: Koinonia Services