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GOD, GAIA AND GREENIES

by James Reed
April 2006


A while back, a correspondent took me to task for claiming that Gaia and pagan Earth Mother worship and/or philosophies are anti-Christian "and inconsistent with Social Credit" and displayed "ignorant prejudice". The correspondent claimed that C.H. Douglas would not express such a view even though "his (Douglas') conception of Christianity was inevitably limited by the time in which he lived. The point I made at the time, which can be easily verified by using the Google search engine on the key word "Gaia" or "Mother Earth, " is that James Lovelock's concept of Gaia which views the Earth as a single living entity - inevitably leads to a "new age metaphysics".

This is a form of metaphysical collectivism which sees the individual person as no more than a cell in the "world organism". The world organism, Gaia, has been viewed by most supporters (usually eco-feminists) as having a mind and a soul/spirit. I contend that this is inconsistent with Christianity which has nothing in its theology about such an entity. Gaia has radical anti-individualist ramifications which I contend are inconsistent with C.H. Douglas' individualism (as in Social Credit for example).

The Gaia idea, by way of illustration, has been taken up by "deep ecologists". They hold that human-based values are anthropocentric and hence flawed, a form of racism. Peter Singer and more radical moralists push this line. At the most extreme, human beings are seen as a cancer on the face of the Earth. How can this be consistent with Christianity and social credit? It's just a matter of logic: pagan concepts are inconsistent with Christian ones by definition. This does not mean that humans are not part of "the wholeness of nature" and both Douglas and Geoffrey Dobbs recognised this.

Paul Davies in "The Sum of the Parts," New Scientist 5 March 2005, pp.34-37 argued that the universe itself exhibits such a wholeness, from the quantum domain up. Computational intractability is present in many systems: meaning that in a finite universe even if the entire universe could act as a computer only 10120 bits of information could be processed in the age of the universe from the "big bang" to the present.
Davies argues that there are many systems which exhibit this strong emergence, living organisms being but one. He does not see this fact as indicating any intrinsic limit to materialism and science but a good case can be made that only the postulation of a divine Creator makes sense of this physics: see M.J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box (1996).
Behe shows in detail that "holism" is just a part of the scientific understanding of nature - and that it points us in the direction of the Creator God who is distinct from this creation. Pagans dispute this. This does not mean of course that paganism is refuted by such a claim. That can only be done by an independent examination looking at their arguments point by point. Tom Harpur's The Pagan Christ was recommended as of fundamental importance to the discussion and will be criticised below.

Christianity and C.H. Douglas
C.H. Douglas in The Policy of a Philosophy (1937) said that the word "religion" "has to do with a conception of reality. It is the binding back either of action, or of policy… to reality... religion is any sort of doctrine, which is based upon an attempt to relate action to some conception of reality." Douglas recognised that one's "religion" could be false because there was always the possibility of erroneous belief: "It does not necessarily mean… that your conception of reality is a correct one, but it does mean that you are postulating that there is something to which you refer as real, and you are basing your policy upon that reality." (The Policy of a Philosophy)

C.H. Douglas in The Pursuit of Truth (1933) felt that Christianity best described the absolute truth about reality. He said: "It is my belief… that there is running through the nature of the Universe something that we call a "canon". It is the thing which is referred to in the Gospel of St. John as the "logos," the "word"... The engineer and the artist refer to it when they say that they have got something "right". Other people mean the same thing when they talk about absolute truth, or reality."

Dennis R. Klinck Ph.D. in a paper entitled "Faith and Economics," New Times July 1979 has observed that for Douglas this "canon," the underlying principle of reality is seen most clearly in the Incarnation where "The Word" became flesh." If "faith" contradicts this "canon" then we will lose or transcend our faith, as Douglas observed in The Approach to Reality (1965).
Douglas then is a "free thinker" in the sense that he grants that Christianity could, as a matter of sheer logic, be false. In particular he was critical of the received Church doctrine which gave equal standing to the Old and New Testaments. A literal reading of the Old Testament, he said in a number of places including The Approach to Reality and The Land for the (Chosen) People Racket, reinforces the myth of the Jews as a "chosen" people. For Douglas they were "chosen" to illustrate certain human failings, not to be the special people of God. The Old Testament he said was mainly a series of "negative" lessons. In this sense Douglas challenged received Church dogmas. He did not however reject any of the core Church teachings such as the Trinity and the Incarnation.

Modern Theology
Modern "Christian" theology for the last two hundred years has been concerned with a rational criticism of the Scriptures and the Christian understanding of God. The Scriptures have been viewed as a social construction. R.J. Hoffman and G.A. Larue (eds), Jesus in History and Myth (Prometheus Books, New York, 1986) p.8 state:
"Biblical law codes reflect older Mesopotamian regulations. Biblical Psalms and Wisdom literature exhibits links with Egyptian writings. Biblical cosmological concepts parallel beliefs held by Israel's neighbours. The recovery of religious literature belonging to the Canaanites, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians has demonstrated that some biblical concepts may have been borrowed from other cults, and that festivals sacred to the Jews and Christians have roots that reach back into pagan religious celebrations. In other words, the Bible, rather than proving to be the product of divine revelation, is clearly a human product…"

Origen (?185-254AD) was an early Christian theologian who believed that some Christian Scriptures must be given an allegorical interpretation. However, it was with the Jewish theologian David Friedrich Strauss in The Life of Jesus Technically Examined (1835) that the idea was expressed that the Scriptures were mythopoetic rather than historical truths. Strauss carried forward the scepticism of Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) who himself questioned Christ's divinity. The so-called "Higher Criticism" would develop from the work of Reimarus and Strauss.
Albert Sweitzer in Quest for the Historical Jesus (1906) said "The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the messiah… never had any existence." Rudolf Bultmann, one of the "giants" of 20th century Protestant theology also rejected the search for the historical Jesus as unfruitful. Science shows that Biblical literalism is false and so the Scriptures must be "demythed" within the framework of an existential theology based upon the work of the German philosopher (and Nazi) Martin Heidegger. Paul Tillich, another "giant" of Protestant theology redefined faith as a state of being grasped by an ultimate concern, and like other existential theologians, emphasised existential anxiety in his systematic theology.

Floodgates opened
The floodgates were now open for social and metaphysical innovations such as feminist interpretations of the Bible, Marxist interpretations (as in liberation theology). Today "new age Christianity" is big business. Numerous texts push the idea of some Gnostic secret behind the Scriptures, some secret esoteric code for secret societies, members of whom may be blood relations of Jesus himself. Yes, they claim, Jesus did exist and marry. Some books pushing these Gnostic ideas include Mark Gaffney, Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes, James Wasserman, The Templars and the Assassins; Richard Smoley, Inner Christianity and so on.
Popular among these new age Christian texts is the idea that Christianity should embrace a "living cosmology," a cosmic Christ. Matthew Fox in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ for example wants to view Christ as Gaia, as "Mother Earth Crucified and Resurrected." Fox also pursues globalism, cosmic multiculturalism as a prelude to world peace and justice.

Tom Harpur in The Pagan Christ: Is Blind Faith Killing Christianity? (Allen and Unwin, 2004) fits in this new age tradition. He says on page 175 of this book: "The personal Jesus concept is truly a limiting and deeply divisive dead end. The historical evidence simply isn't there. It's a classic example of the emperor's having no clothes. What is more, it commits idolatry by making a flesh-and-blood man into God - thus forever alienating Jews…"
Harpur's book develops all of the critical themes mentioned above, especially the idea that the Bible is just a set of borrowings from the archives of older religions and cultures. Harpur bases his work on that of the theologian Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880-1963) who did a major scholarly work in deconstructing the Scriptures in books such as The Lost Key to the Scriptures. Did Jesus really walk on water? No, all he did was symbolically calm the storm within us. The story of the Gospels is "the story of our souls."
Christianity, Kuhn says in A Rebirth for Christianity must cease being exclusivist and include everyone in the Christos, the divine spirit. And Harpur adds: "If you recognise the divine presence in another person, you cannot harm him or suffer your brother to endure injustice." (p.184) Strange sexist language from such a politically correct writer.

C.S. Evans in The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith (1996), one of a small but important number of books which attempts to counter the modernism and postmodernism of these theologians rightly observes:
"Without historicity, the narrative cannot be seen as a record of the divine actions whereby a historical relationship between humans and God is established. A myth which merely symbolically expresses some metaphysical/ psychological truth cannot function in this way."
In other words, if Christianity is not historically true, then why believe all the substitutional material about a 'cosmic Christ." By Occam's Razor ("do not multiply entities unnecessarily") the cosmic-psychological buff should also be eliminated. And that is atheism.

It is beyond the scope of this essay to outline a defence of literal Christianity. Readers disturbed by the arguments of the likes of Harpur may turn to Evans' book as a start. Nevertheless such theologians are sadly in a minority and publishers today are looking for sensational titles to generate sales so that few books defending the Christian tradition reach the bookshops.

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