The Ark of the Covenant and the Temple of Dagon

I firmly believe that you do not need to be an adherent to any faith to find value in religious texts; and this is one of my favourite historical stories from the Old Testament: It tells of the Philistines (i.e. now Palestinians) capturing the Ark of the Covenant and – eventually – returning it to the Jews because of all the trouble having it caused (see 1 Samuel Chapters 5 and 6 if you’re interested). I think the moral of this story may be twofold: It tells us (1) that God can look after himself; and (2) we should not raise any object to the status of an idol. Personally speaking, learning the first lesson from this story eventually convinced me in the mid-1980s that there was no point trying to persuade my devoutly-atheistic teachers at Portsmouth Polytechnic (as it was then) that not all Christians were Young Earth Creationists (see my Link to Falsifiable Theology [at bottom-right] if this issue is of interest to you). However, globally speaking, learning the second lesson from this story will be necessary before humanity can dig itself out of the hole it is now in – as a result of (1) pride (in our own resourcefulness); and (2) complacency (regarding the Earth’s sensitivity to our activity). This was the warning given by E.F. Schumacher in Small is Beautiful (1973) and, most-recently, by James Lovelock in Revenge of Gaia (2006)… Karl Marx called it “money fetishism” and Herman Daly called it “growthmania” but, whatever you want to call it, we need to renounce it; and acknowledge that all human actions – most important of all being waste production – have consequences… Therefore, more than anything else, this is a plea for anthropogenic humility, intellectual honesty, moral courage, and determined action. This is because if we fail to act soon then, yes, I do firmly believe that we face an environmental catastrophe. If all of the above merely convinces you that environmentalism is a new religion, so be it but, I think you are wrong: I think consumerism is the new religion and, on the contrary, environmentalism is just a natural response to the realisation that humanity is having a terrible impact on the planet; and needs to change its ways before its very existence – in anything like current numbers and at current average levels of affluence – is seriously compromised. Authors will have to forgive me if they feel I have here plagiarised any of their work, because this is an amalgamation of many different things I have seen or read. However, above all, it is influenced most-recently by watching Civilisation: Is the West History? by Niall Ferguson; and reading Requiem for a Species by Clive Hamilton… I do not believe either of these two men has been ideologically “captured” by any political agenda; they are merely being (at times painfully) honest and objective about the predicament in which we now find ourselves (though to be fair we were warned almost 40 years ago but chose not to listen).

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About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Civilisation, Climate Science, Consumerism, Environment, Growthmania, Limits to Growth, Money Fetishism, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Scepticism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Ark of the Covenant and the Temple of Dagon

  1. lucas says:

    Great post! Obviously I resonate with the idea that “consumerism is the new religion”. I’m interested someday in writing a book or dissertation unpacking this idea. Sounds like we have a lot in common. I’d be interested in hearing your story sometime to know how you ended up intellectually/theologically where you find yourself now.

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    • Rick_Altman says:

      You’re very kind Lucas (and I am pleased I have not upset you). As for my story, see Falsifiable Theology for the backstory, and my About page for how I came to be doing what I am now. In between, my post on the anniversary of 9/11 gives you an insight into where I am currently at, personally-speaking…

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  2. Pingback: Humanity will not be able to say it was not warned | Anthropocene Reality

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