people see their god
(s) from a different perspective
, which can be roughly categorized into an immanent god
or one (or more) that can be described as a transcendent god
. I don't want to discuss if this person / thing / entity / presence / being / whatever exists or not, just the perception
of it by a large group of human being
A transcendent god
The idea of a transcendent god prevails in so-called Western societies
. God is a transcendent masculine authority
ruling over everything. It is he who created heaven
and all living creature
s, of which humans to his own likeness. Key aspects are the creation
- the Fall
- "eternal heaven" (revelation
), and thus with a linear path (I'll come back to that later). God is created in the human mind to explain the things we don't understand; e.g. there is no certainty about how exactly the world started, so the metaphorical world machine
is switched on by something that lies beyond human comprehension.
The position of humans is the one of manager
or estate agent
, and it is their duty to do that as good as possible without gaining own profit
from it. Humans may have own will and responsibility
, but your destiny
is set by god, he
determines your future. People have to, or even must use the available sources for that (some call that exploitation
). In case you have a bible: Genesis
1:26-29, 2:15-17 and 3:1-24, Psalm
8 and Mathew 26:14-30. It only says that the "necessary preconditions to live" have to be maintained, but what that means isn't specified. The whole lot is strongly anthropocentric
: god created the plants and animals especially for humans and gave "us" knowledge with the intention to be used.
Both aspects, being the linear interpretation of history and future and the anthropocentric view remain intact nowadays in Christian ethics
(and as far as I understand the Islam
, that one too). These aspects are used to "explain" the continuous use of non-renewable sources because god made them for humans to be used, and is even used to justify activities like genetic modification
: by altering the genes you sort of acting like god, not creating like he did of course, but very close and working towards the heaven on earth
. And after all, it is he who gave us the knowledge to (ab)use that.
The other interpretation is, that the resources are there to be used with measure, and biotechnology
is interpreted as unjustifiable arrogance
: humans never ever can create a world so marvellous and beautiful as he did, "we" are just simple human beings here to serve him and his will, and definitely not being pretentious to even consider comparing ourselves with him.
An immanent god
The other view of god emphasizes the closeness of the being: god is within the creation
, instead of above watching over the world. This idea prevails in the Orthodox Church
and e.g. the pacha mama of the Indians. The whole reality is created by god, and a part of god. As well as the living matter
as dead matter
show proof of the presence of god, and god is still creating. God isn't necessarily a masculine authority, but more like a mother
, supervisor and enlighting spirit
- and vital for the carefulness of the creation.
Humans are part of this ongoing creation, to keep on realizing the power of god. An important aspect is the integrity
of the creation. It tends to result in a more holistic
point of view of the world, and in contrast with the transcendent god, ecocentric
. Humans participate in this ongoing process using the given knowledge and technology, almost "helping and improving
, next to god", especially when the aim is to eradicate diseases and hunger (but the latter has more to do with fair distribution of the resources I think, and thus shouldn't justify constructing pesticide resistant crops etc.). On the other hand, when this results in implementations devastating for the world
, it is interpreted as a disbelief
and destruction of the existence of god. Einstein
is quoted in this context: "science without religion is paralysed, religion without science is blind."
* I know I've said some aspects quite blunt
ly, but this is still without the intention to insult groups of people. However, if I would have presented this information very politely, all this would have been extremely woolly, sort of vague and would have become a very long write up.
The above text is a (simplified) translation of a chapter of my thesis applied philosophy called "Acceptance of genetically modified micro-organisms on the basis of different points of view of life", Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands.