Photo by Kirk
Moonrise over the Pickerel River (Photo by Kirk Durston)

As a young university student in the 70’s, I never dreamed that there would be a resurgence of Pantheism in my lifetime. Nonetheless, this primitive religion is experiencing a renaissance – the personification and worship of nature has returned.

C.S. Lewis wrote,

Modern philosophy has rejected Hegel and modern science started out with no bias in favour of religion; but they have both proved quite powerless to curb the human impulse toward Pantheism.”(1)

Three factors have been instrumental in this renewed worship of nature: (a) Darwinism, (b) a misplaced reverence and awe for the creation rather than the Creator, and  (c) fervent environmentalism.

Let us briefly consider each one.

Numerous people question why God does not give us clear evidence of His existence. In fact He has, but humanity has drawn a veil over it, and in doing so, Pantheism has been inadvertently resurrected. In reality, affirmation of God’s existence shouts out to us every day; one need only look up to the stars, or drink in the beauty of a pristine, dew-laden orchid…or stand on a mountain peak at sunset.  There is something in nature that arouses within us a response bordering on a spiritual experience. The reason for this was given thousands of years ago – Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”(2)

Prior to Charles Darwin’s book, On the Origin of Species, denying God’s existence was problematic, as nature was a blatant, global, in-your-face reminder of the Creator and His invisible attributes. Darwin, however, recast nature as the creator of life. In the words of atheist, Richard Dawkins, ‘Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist’.(3)  Neither Darwin nor Dawkins realized it, but with the embracing of Darwinism, Pantheism began to stir from its slumber, and the deification of nature began anew.

What Darwin’s theory failed to find in data and experimental results, it made up for with evolutionary ‘scenarios’. The resulting effect is that the line between science and creative story telling has become blurred. Multiverse theories and ideas of a universe from nothing are mixing science fiction with science, threatening the integrity of physics.(4) In evolutionary biology, anthropomorphic language is rampant in peer-reviewed papers (5), bestowing upon nature the rational agency of a god. It has become the creator of all things with the beloved Mother Earth as our cradle.

The supernatural threads woven into nature are so powerful, they cannot be denied. Instead, those feelings of awe are now directed toward nature itself, rather than its Creator. As a result, Pantheism worships the art, rather than the Artist behind it.

Every religion has its zealots, dogma, rules, laws, priests and enforcers. Enter fervent environmentalism. Although we have a Creator-given responsibility to be wise and good stewards of this earth, Pantheism twists this. The result is a form of environmentalism that borders on a fundamentalist religion. It has infected the highest level of governments and courts, blurring our ability to make objective decisions about the environment. Plants and animals have been elevated to be equal to, or greater in value than, human beings; laws are being passed that are driven more by the desire to ‘look green’ than honest, actual science.(6)

 So what is the solution?

Descended from a lobe-finned fish? (Photo by Maddie Meyer, Getty Images)
Descended from a lobe-finned fish?
(Photo by Maddie Meyer, Getty Images)

First, we must separate Darwinian myth and story telling from real science. We have been fed tall tales and sold promissory notes that have gone far beyond what the data actually supports. Nature is not its own artist; it is not even the creator of humanity. You may wish to seriously question the belief, for example, that the contestants at the World Figure Skating Championships have descended from a lobed-finned fish.

Most importantly, we must tear off the veil we have fabricated that is obscuring the evidence our Creator has woven into nature. We also need to realize that our sense of the supernatural in nature, and our feeling of reverence and awe ought to be recognized for what they are: the signature and call of the Artist. As humans beings, we have been created in His image and likeness. We are not merely part of the painting.

The Creator of Worlds said His name is I AM. Two thousand years ago, He walked among us as Jesus of Nazareth in order to rescue humanity. When we accept Him as our Creator and saviour from the eternal, unquantifiable consequences of our moral evil, a spiritual rebirth takes place that allows us to see nature in a new way. In the words of C.S. Lewis,

Only supernaturalists really see Nature. You must go a little away from her, and then turn round, and look back. Then at last the true landscape will become visible. You must have tasted, however briefly, the pure water from beyond the world before you can be distinctly conscious of the hot, salty tang of Nature’s current. To treat her as God, or as Everything, is to lose the whole pith and pleasure of her. Come out, look back, and then you will see … this astonishing cataract of bears, babies, and bananas: this immoderate deluge of atoms, orchids, oranges, cancers, canaries, fleas, gases, tornadoes and toads. How could you ever have thought that it was the ultimate reality? … Offer her neither worship nor contempt.(7)

One of my greatest pleasures in life is nature. This is where I feel closest to the Artist, my Creator. Together, He and I walk together as the closest of friends in what He has made, and His creation is where I feel most at home. I see nature for what it is: a magnificent work of art within which the invisible attributes, the eternal power, and the divine nature of the Artist are there for all to experience.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.(8)

References:

  1. C.S. Lewis, Miracles, chapter 11.
  2. Romans 1:20
  3. Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1986.
  4. G. Ellis & J. Silk, ‘Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics’, Nature, 16 December, 2014.
  5. A. Moore, ‘We need a new language for evolution …. everywhere’, Bioessays, 33:237, 2011.
  6. L. Dunick, ‘Generating station costs 25 times more to produce than other biomass facilities in Ontario‘. Also see 2015 Ontario Auditor’s Report for examples of very poor political decisions to give the appearance to environmental groups of ‘going green’, when much more effective methods were available from experts in the field.
  7. C.S. Lewis, Miracles, chapter 9.
  8. Psalm 19:1,2

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