Sustainability practitioner, Guy Lane, talks about his new non-theistic belief system, Eearth, whose central belief is that the biosphere is sacred.
To avoid collapse, human civilization needs a new belief system
In the Road Runner cartoon, the antagonist Wile E. Coyote frequently over-reaches and runs off a cliff. The unlucky canine spends a few seconds contemplating his fate in suspended gravity, before plummeting to the bottom of the ravine.
This is an appropriate analogy for human civilisation with respect to the global sustainability crisis that is rolling in on us like a tsunami wave. Commentators who are familiar with the situation suggest that we are already falling. The question is whether hitting the valley floor will kill, or merely maim us. Will we lose all of the humans, or just most of them?
While much attention is focussed on climate change, the real peril to human civilization is the synergystic interplay of a dozen simultaneous crises, that also include ocean acidification, loss of species, ocean dead zones, an economic model that demands constant growth economy — not to mention that the global superclass elite who run the world so badly are totally unplugged from reality.
The sustainability crisis is underpinned by the beliefs that people hold and we humans act on our beliefs. In the Western world, we hold an amalgam of beliefs that include:
- consumerism is king;
- capitalism is the best economic model;
- the purpose of the firm is to maximize profit for shareholders;
- corporations can to be legal persons, but animals – such as primates and whales – can’t; and
- humans deserve rights, but the atmosphere and the ocean don’t.
To make matters worse, many religious beliefs are either silent on sustainability or even hostile to it. As an example, I had a conversation with a born-again Christian in London in 2010, about the BP oil spill. At that time, 100 litres of crude oil was pouring into the Gulf of Mexico every minute and threatening the entire marine ecosystem.
Here's Guy explaining why human civilisation needs a new belief system
I told my associate that the survival of the sperm whales of the Gulf of Mexico was in jeopardy.
“Don’t worry about it, they are all going to burn anyway.”
He was referring to the pentacostal Christian belief in the end times, the armageddon war and the rapture event in which the "good" people go to heaven without having to die first. Clearly, this is not a belief system that fosters the actions that lead to the rapid transition to a zero carbon economy.
Unfortunately, these sorts of views are widespread. While not all religions are hostile to sustainability, most are largely silent on it. If you were to do a search of the bible for the word "sustainability", you will come up blank. Search for guidance on ocean acidification, for instance, the same.
This is not surprising, really, given that the texts of the world’s major religions were written thousands of years ago, long before there was any scientific understanding of earth systems. Recent advancements, such as the Pope’s encyclical on the environment and the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, are helpful but do not address the central problem that mainstream religions are inadequately suited to take a lead on a rapid transition to a sustainable global economy.
For this reason, it is necessary to adopt a new belief system that has contemporary ideas around sustainability at its heart. These ideas include concepts such as Gaia Theory, The Natural Step, Planetary Boundaries, the Long Future, Declaration of Human Rights and others.
James Lovelock's theory that the earth is a living, interrelated organism.
This new belief system is called Eearth and it has a central belief that the biosphere is sacred, and the role of humans on Earth is to ensure the protection of her natural biological systems, and to foster global happiness for the Long Future, which is another 1-2 billion years.
Eearth is not a religion, it is a non-theistic belief system, which is to say that it does not purport a belief in a God, or Gods. As such, a belief in Eearth does not exclude other faiths and vice versa. This is important, because there are billions of people around the world who are adherents of the major religions and we need them to be taking action for sustainability alonside the agnostics, atheists and Eeartheans.
The interview on the podcast linked below gives an excellent overview of Eearth Belief:
The invitation to adopt Eearth Belief extends to you, the reader. If enough people undertake the practices that this belief entails, human civilisation may have another option beyond falling off a cliff and either breaking our legs or dying. Instead, we might pivot just in time to grasp the edge of the cliff, thus preventing the fall in the first place.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
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