Re-inventing the Sacred: Religion and the Environment: Gregory Bateson (1904-1980)

I have always liked this quote from the anthropologist Gregory Bateson, which I have posted before: 

‘If you put God outside and set him vis-a-vis his creation and if you have the idea that you are created in his image, you will logically and naturally see yourself as outside and against the things around you. And as you arrogate all Mind to yourself, you will see the world around you as mindless and therefore not entitled to moral or ethical consideration. The environment seems to be yours to exploit. Your survival unit will be you and your folks or conspecifics, against the environment, other social units, other races, and brutes and vegetables.

If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in Hell. You will die either of the toxic by-products of your own hate, or simply of overpopulation and overgrazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.’

One counter to the perspective he criticizes, would be to reconnect religion and the sense of the sacred to the environment. To see stewardship of our planet as a religious task or quest.

I grew up in a religious world view that valued the natural world. I lived as a child in woods and fields and could not conceive of a view that put me outside that natural world. To be outside the natural world or to be destroying it, to be bulldozing the woods would be an unnatural act. So maybe if we can get religious folks to shift their focus from our bedrooms to the woods rivers, plants and animals, we will make progress.

What better way to understand the sacred than to stare at the night sky on a dark cloudless night away from the light pollution? Or to look at teeming life under a microscope?


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Processes, Environmental Conflict, Philosophy of Conflict, Religious Conflict, Uncategorized, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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