God vs. Nature
March 8, 1997

Religion asserts that a God or Gods oversee all life, intervening when appropriate to reward or punish. This view is underestimating the power of nature. The processes of evolution underlie all life, constantly intervening to reward sustainable behaviour. This means that God is essentially a metaphor for nature, the self-defining, self-regulating system of life. I think that "God coming to save us" really means "nature will kill us off if we aren’t sustainable".

The ancients did not see the web of interdependencies that life is. They could perceive that events were evolving contrary to various ‘obvious’ desirables (such as goodwill to all men) and, extrapolating, perceived that eventually something was going to break. At that point, they perceived the need for divine intervention. This was because they thought humans were autonomous - they could do whatever they pleased without regard for the environment. They did not realise that humans depended on the environment for survival.

This breaking point is probably when population reaches unsustainable proportions. In fact the consequences of overpopulation read word-for-word: flood, fire, famine, pestilence. These are symptoms of environmental degradation and social failure. Perhaps the ancients figured that these nasty things could only come about through intervention.

The reality is that nature will serve these up with neither thought nor compassion. Where the ancients saw divine intervention, nature self-regulates. If humans behave unsustainably, nature will step in and discourage that behaviour. Certainly something outside humanity has intervened, but it is not God, it is nature.

Where the ancients saw a need for divine purpose (to save), nature sees a need for survival of the fittest (to evolve). Both methodologies have ‘purpose’, but nature achieves it without God. Nature’s purpose is to allow only the fit to propagate. Nature scores one up on God in that it discriminates only on merit.

It is at this point that the two philosophies become divergent, one encouraging sustainability, the other encouraging exploitation. Enough about God, eh!

Applied to problems with humanity, survival of the fittest means that elements of humanity that become unfit are more likely to be eliminated. It means that if humanity gets itself into trouble, some people will die, and the survivors will be equipped to avoid the problem in the future.

This process of death and survival will get humanity past the "breaking point" foretold by the ancients. It is like delivering antibiotics to bacteria - many die, but some survive and build anew, somewhat resistant to the antibiotic that caused the calamity.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

Perhaps the end days are accurate: flood, fire, famine, pestilence. Noticed a lot of water around recently? The Earth has grit in its eye, and the cleansing process is in progress. Severe flooding damages infrastructure, which leaves civilisation vulnerable.. fire follows, further damaging infrastructure... there is not enough food.. people die, and disease claims the weak. Those that survive will use their experience to build anew, somewhat resistant to a similar failure occuring in the future. The predictions seem very believeable.. perhaps someone has had a word in our ear.