Is the tendency towards nature and earth worship a new drift or an old declension?
According to leading scholars on the technological explosion of the “dark ages”, it was the acceptance of Christianity which paved the way for the scientific, technological, literary, medical and economic advances that placed Europe light years ahead of the rest of the world. Eyeglasses, chimneys, iron horseshoes, stirrups, cannon, round bottom boats capable of deep sea travel, the printing press, mechanized paper and cloth making, massive use of wind and water mills of many types, tidal mills, advanced farming methods, the list is almost endless. The advance continued with the invention of the internal combustion engine, the use of steam, wood, oil and gas, flight, the use of electricity, antibiotics, medical sanitation (though Moses had that first) etc.
Lynn White is quoted by Gies, that in Christianity, “Man shares in great measure God’s transcendence of nature. Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asian religions…not only established a dualism of man and nature but insisted it was God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.” (Gies, Cathedral, Forge and Waterwheel, p.5)
“As the Christian faith spread…it destroyed the belief of the classical world that there were gods residing in nature. This Christian demythologizing was one of the many factors behind the technical creativity of the period” Gimpel, p. 180, The Medieval Machine.
“…Christianity, by destroying classical animism, brought about a basic change in the attitude towards natural objects and opened the way for their rational and unabashed use for human ends.” Lynn White, Cultural Climates and Technical Advance in the Middle Ages, Viator, vol. II, 1971, p. 187-88
Conversely, when man rejects god, he begins to worship nature and society begins a downward trend into nature worship, which affects his ability to use nature wisely. This really appears to be where we are now. Paul the apostle chronicled this tendency in Romans ch.1 in the New Testament, almost 2000 years ago;
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him or gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile…Professing to be wise, they became fools…They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things, rather than the Creator…” Romans 1:21-25
Modern progressive man thinks of a million pragmatic reasons why we need to stop building dams, tear down existing dams, stop oil drilling, close down the coal fired plants, refuse to log the old growth, etc . But occasionally the truth slips out, as it did about 20 years ago here in Ferry County where a local environmentalist leader went on a long earth worshipping rant in the local newspaper of the day, the News Miner. We’ve gone from conservation to environmentalism. Many people don’t even recognize the true nature of their thinking and would deny any open worship of created things or nature; but their attitudes and thinking have been controlled by the culture they live in and it has shaped their thinking like water currents and temperatures in a river dictate the activities of the fish.
Professing to be wise, we have become fools and our understanding has been darkened. And the fall into nature worship is just one natural result of willfully choosing to forget about God, there are others. We may not be the enlightened era we think we are.