Saturday, October 31, 2015

Planet Earth and Religion: Their Less than Optimistic Futures

Relative insignificance
The Earth has existed for 4.6 billion years and scientists predict its bulk of substance will be around until consumed by the sun, some 5 billion years from now. Halfway through this projected lifespan, humankind's primate forerunners have crawled and walked for 6 million years, a period so brief it wouldn't even be visible to the naked eye if depicted on a histogram graphic of the earth. On the other hand, the species known as "Modern Man" has only been present a mere 200,000 years, not even a quarter of a million years.  

Civilization only dates back from 4,000 to 3,000 BCE or to about 5,500 years ago, around the same time as the longest surviving formal religion, Hinduism. Other surviving religions include Judaism, about 4,000 years old, Buddhism 2,500 years old, Christianity, less than 2,000 years and Islam, barely 1400 (click here for list of all religions). Nevertheless, these religions, long in league with governments, have considerable bearing upon the behavior and even the unbridled growth of the species.

More than a fair share
This god-fearing species of humans has proven to be the mother planet's single biggest quandary. Consuming more land, air, water and vegetation than any other species, humans have greatly accelerated the extinction of other species. Humankind's growing appetite for animal protein, sport hunting and overabundant habitat only add to the momentum.

A full 99.9% of all earth's species are today extinct. With the exception of the virus, even parasites learn to adapt and coexist. So microscopic it exists at an atomic level, modern science considers the virus to be somewhere between living and non-living, an entity that usually preys upon a single species at a time. Continually evolving and mutating, it knows no limit to its needs and eventually, alters or destroys its host.

The Great Escape - Dan Piraro's Bizarro
The Great Escape - Dan Piraro's Bizarro comic depiction of an extraterrestrial race coming to the rescue of earth's remaining species.  ©Copyright Dan Piraro/King Features

A better place (really?)
However, to the mind of a religious fundamentalist, humans are special. Unlike other species, humans are aware of their own death. Consequently, to mask their fear of dying they assemble formalized beliefs in God or gods who will not only extend their life but also provide a paradise greater than that of earth's own resources (as well as a place of perpetual torment to satisfy their insatiable sadistic tendencies).

Why save the planet? 
These fundamentalists abhor birth control yet embrace the end of days, which some have affectionately named "Rapture", when one of their misogynistic gods or demigods will arrive to establish a better world. Not surprising, these same fundamentalists have a long history of crusades and jihads where, hand in hand with government, they have continually promoted wars of extinction to pursue political, economic and, ultimately, totalitarian goals.

The Religions of Peace - cartoonist Joe Heller
The Religions of Peace - Above is cartoonist Joe Heller's
2006 editorial graphic for the Green Bay Press-Gazette,
describing destructive religious ironies. It states "As near as
I can tell, they're fighting over which religion is the most
  ©2006-15 Green Bay Press-Gazette
Even when religion isn't the motivator for war it aids with recruitment. How many parents would offer their children up for the ultimate sacrifice if they first embraced the fact that when their child dies they don't go to a better place but are instead dead for all times?

Centered upon military advancement, modern technology has split the atom to unleash unrivaled destructive forces, as few as a dozen thermonuclear devices would create titanic firestorms impossible to extinguish in a lifetime. Yet this species, said to be designed in God's image, continually storehouses tens of thousands of such weapons.

Today, after the human population has grown from 1.8 to 7.2 billion in just one century (1914 to 2014), it continues to increase at a record pace with a projected headcount reaching 9.6 billion by 2050. Sadly, the largest growth is projected in poor, undeveloped countries. Not a coincidence, this also happens to be where religious influence upon government is strongest.

The price of dominance
Every day, dozens of species vital to the survival of the food chain and planet's ecosystem are forced into extinction. The earth's air, water and coral reefs now begin to pass beyond the point of reasonable repair, permanently becoming chemically altered. Lastly, human growth has finally surpassed the earth's ability to sustain it, as the FAO's (Food and Agriculture Organization) projected requirement of a 70% food production increase is unlikely to be met.

Critical Extinction Levels Over the Past 2 Centuries
Critical Extinction Levels - Only after the 14th century did humans begin to outpace resource usage. By the 19th century and the Industrial Revolution, animal habitats began to disappear. This trend has accelerated exponentially over the past two centuries until today we have the current Extinction Crisis.  
Data source: Scott, J.M. 2008, Threats to Biological Diversity: Global Continental, Local, U.S. Geological Survey, Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife, Research Unit, University of Idaho. Artwork provided by T. Mallon ©2015.

Ultimate declination
Like a virus, the human species continues to destroy its own host. The only real differences are that the virus does so without fear of death and doesn't argue with science.

One last point, five billion years from now it will not be an earth occupied by humans, which a giant sun consumes. Instead, if any life survives, it may well be one of earth's highly evolved viruses, by then watching safely a galaxy or so away, but only if it has learned to humble itself as just another interconnected and codependent species.

You might also be interested in...

The Emperor's Faith 
is about religion and its fascinating effects upon the development of Western Civilization. Christianity remains the dominant religion of the West. However, as the ongoing essays unfold, it has by no means been the only religion of influence.

Visit this by CLICKING HERE

What would you have done? 

Would you have dropped the bomb? Harry Truman had a number of issues to deal with in Europe while trying to end the war in the Pacific. Consequently, his decision to use the bomb was complicated. 

Visit this by CLICKING HERE

Also of Interest... 

Nationalism: Before Europe had distinct countries with unique national identities, it was an empire. Before secular governments and diverse religious followings, there were monarchs who embraced the Catholic Church as state religion. 

Visit this by CLICKING HERE

 Copyright ©2015 Tom Mallon. All rights reserved.