December 10, 2009

Here are excerpts from a chapter in ‘Ecoscience,’ the 1977 text co-authored by Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich and John P. Holdren, now Science Czar to the Obama Administration, which regards the conflicts between religious institutions and environmental/population issues. It goes so far as to quote ‘academics’ who blame the entire Judeo-Christian tradition, harkening back to an era of Pagan Animism where trees & streams were revered.

Judge for yourself, but the fact that this book is considered a "textbook" with at least some sense of neutrality or objectivism seems remarkable. Clearly there are some biased if not crackpot views spread throughout this tediously long volume…

For clarification, all direct passages are put in "quotes." All commentary will be prefaced by ‘commentary.’ Notes are short paraphrases or references to non-quoted passages in the text.

Religion in “Ecoscience” 1977 p. 806-813

“Religion, broadly defined, would include all the belief systems that allow Homo sapiens to achieve a sense of transcendence of self and a sense of the possession of a right and proper place in the universe and a right and proper way of life. In short, everyone wants to feel important and in tune with a right-ordered world.” P. 806

“With religion so broadly defined, political parties, labor unions, nation states, academic disciplines, and the organized structure of the environment-ecology movement would have to be counted among our religious institutions.” P. 806

-Notes controversy of Organized religion vs. population control
Commentary: Otherwise well-establish conflict with Catholic church on contraceptives
-Notes Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, 1968 and the resulting controversy, particularly for contraceptive proponents & activists

“Since its publication, the encyclical has caused immense anguish among Catholics, millions of whom have followed their consciences and used contraceptives, often after a period of intense soul-searching.”

Commentary: This can be read to imply that Catholics going against the Pope and using contraceptives stand on a higher moral ground.

Ecoscience notes that the Pope received ‘almost universal ridicule’ at the 1974 World Food Conference in Rome.

Catholic biologist John H. Thomas of Stanford University (Ehrlich’s university) wrote in 1968:

“The Church must affirm that the birth rate must soon be brought in line with the death rate—i.e., a growth rate of zero. This is the responsibility of all people regardless of race or religion. The Church must recognize and state that all means of birth control are licit… (it) must put its concern for people, their welfare, and their happiness above its concern for doctrine, dogma, and canon law… It is time that the Church stop being like a reluctant little child, always needing to be dragged into the present.”

Commentary: If the Church "must" embrace ALL means of birth control, does this include abortion? Compulsory sterilization? and beyond?

“Except for the Roman Catholic church, all major Western religious groups had by 1970 officially sanctioned “artificial” contraception, although some continued to oppose liberal abortion policies.”

-Notes Protestant, Catholic and Jewish activity in promoting sex education in schools.
-Notes Methodist groups involvement in abortion-law reform in the U.S.

“Thus there is good reason to hope that organized Western religious groups may become a powerful force in working toward population control worldwide, especially as the human suffering caused by overpopulation becomes more widely recognized.” P. 808

-Notes some acceptance among Moslem countries for birth control, including Indonesia in 1960s

“For Westerners who favor population control one of the best courses of action seems to lie in working with the already established religious groups to change people’s attitudes toward population growth.” P. 809

Commentary: ‘working with the already established religious groups’ Does this equate to promoting individual leaders within religious groups who happen to agree with or accept Ecoscience’s view of proper population control (which, as other Ecoscience quotes demonstrate, includes forced abortions, taking babies from teen mothers, implantable birth control and licensed births), and excluding, shunning or discrediting religious leaders who don’t accept any/all population control?

Commentary: ‘Westerners who favor population control’—i.e. the Rockefeller Foundation, Population Council and other Robber Baron-funded NGOs, who have put forward the majority of funding for worldwide population control since the 1960s?

“Lynn White, Jr., professor emeritus of history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and past president of the American Historical Association, has suggested that the basic cause of Western society’s destructive attitude toward nature lies in the Judeo-Christian tradition. He pointed out, for instance, that before the Christian era, people believed trees, springs, hills, streams, and other objects of nature had guardian spirits. Those spirits had to be approached and placated before one could safely invade those territories: ‘By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.’” P. 809

Commentary: Thus, Western world’s roots in society established ‘dominating and exploiting’, and “rightful mastery over nature” is rooted in the Christian world view. This summary is over-generalized and appears aimed at demonizing Christianity and Western culture.

“Therefore, White claimed, it may be in vain that so many look to science and technology to solve our present ecological crisis:

‘Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecologic crises can be expected from them alone. Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not.”
Commentary: Conveniently, Ecoscience has already ‘broadly’ defined religion to include “political parties, labor unions, nation states, academic disciplines, and the organized structure of the environment-ecology movement”as ‘religious institutions.’ Thus a pseudo-religious environmental view or movement can be see as a viable ’solution.’ In some ways, the more that elements of Gaia worship, pagan animism or other forms of ‘Earth worship’ are incorporated, the more it can be billed (by the logic of this chapter) as a legitimate replacement to Judeo-Christian religious traditions.

Several objections to White’s thesis are noted.

Commentary: Lewis Moncrief of North Carolina State University also counts Western religion as a cause of the problem, but only one of many. He also counts “the Industrial revolution and democracy” for their role in “providing individual control over resources” (thus paving the way for a collective-authority solution) p. 810 Notably, Ecoscience and quoted-below academic Bertrand Russell both call for variations of a Planetary Authority to control births, a World Food Authority to control the distribution of food and otherwise views the necessity of a super-national authority to oversee environmental imperatives and restrictions to resources.

Commentary: Among the problems of religion, the Industrial revolution, democracy and the frontier-mentality in America is “faith in the abundance of resources and the bounty of nature.” Notice that this passage compliments the idea that de-industrialization of the Western world must take place (for the good of the Earth) P. 811 I suppose Judeo-Christians are also to be held accountable for Biblical-imperatives to "be fruitful and multiply" as this could lead to unauthorized child birth and population of the earth.

"Ecological Ethics: Many persons believe that an entirely new philosophy must now be developed—one based on ecological realities. Such a philosophy—and the ethics based upon it—would be antihumanist and against Judeo-Christian tradition in the sense that it would not focus on human beings as an integral part of nature, as just one part of a much more comprehensive system… the extreme anthropocentricism of thinkers like Karl Marx and John Dewey has been strongly attacked by, among others, Bertrand Russell. Russell, for example, pointed out Marx’s philosophical closeness to classical Judeo-Christian thought.” P. 811-812

Commentary: Bertrand Russell is not against the authoritarian collectivism of Marxism, as perhaps the informed free peoples of the world would be, his objection is that Marxism is too closely related to Judeo-Christian’s central-man viewpoint…