Thursday, May 18, 2017

Beauty & The Beast: How Our View of Nature is Like Our View of God & Religion

Have you ever noticed how much our view of nature is like our view of religion or even God?

If we look at a breathtaking landscape,for example, or the heavens above, we can be overcome by the wonder and beauty of it all. But this wonder and beauty, which is directly connected to the limitations of our own vision and imagination, hides a great deal of death and violence that we fail to see or often even consider.

If we look at a Ansel Adams picture from one of America's National Parks, say Yosemite for example, we may find ourselves overcome by the immense amount of magnificence and beauty  we behold. But in doing so, we fail to notice that, included in that landscape, are animals who mostly survive by ripping each other apart, limb from limb.

On an even smaller scale, insects and creepy crawlies of every kind and degree, live a life that has been described as the most monstrous and cruel existence imaginable. The amount of suffering and pain, as Werner Herzog has pointed out, is impossible for us to wrap our minds around. And yet such universal misery is all but excluded from our perception of Yosemite.

Old horror movies that show giant bugs destroying cities or threatening to devour humanity like Them (1954), The Fly,  Tarantula, The Deadly Mantis, Eight Legged Freaks, Bug, and others, all remind us of the horrors that inhabit the world on the smaller scale, that we are only blissfully ignorant of because we are fortunate enough to be much larger than they are.

And we avoid the horrors involved in the animal world, of kill or be killed, by virtue of the societies we've created. We have even managed to insulate ourselves from the vicious barbarities of our own food supplies, and the truly tortuous means by which we treat our pigs, chickens, cows, dolphins, monkeys, etc (see the documentaries Earthlings or Lucent, for example, but I would be sure to do so on an empty stomach).

We don't even need to discuss any of the cruelties that humanity visits upon itself in all of this, along with the pollution, radiations, nuclear waster, chemical poisons, and more, that we pour everywhere into our oceans and environment, which causes so much cancer and disease and death and suffering, and so on.

All of this, and more, is hidden behind the veil of our own confirmation bias about how truly lovely and beautiful the world is. While we may know, on some level, of all of the horrors just mentioned, we do not contemplate them when we tend to look at a beautiful landscape.

But rather than contemplate all of this ugliness, or what we might even aptly describe is "evil," we only overlook all of that death and destruction and see the "beauty" of it all instead. The monstrous cruelty, death, and destruction that surrounds us everywhere, where everything from microbes to insects to animals and beyond wars for survival, and where animals must devour each other to survive, are all overlooked by us in our finite and flawed perception of how "beautiful" the world is.

Add to this the fact that our ideas about God, who the Old Testament compels us to murder each other over our "beliefs," and in the most cruel ways possible (but we kill each other in the cruelest ways imaginable for reasons that also have nothing to do with God or religion as well, of course) allows us to see just how insane it is to simply see the beauty of the world around us, and not the beast that is the nature of that world, which lies behind it.

The world, God, and even ourselves, may all LOOK "beautiful," on the surface, but beneath that surface, we see a raging beast, that is more evil than the devil we like to imagine is the cause of such  suffering and "evil."

Hence, our view of nature corresponds to our view of God, and even ourselves. For we wish to simply "believe" in what we "see," even though we know full well that what we "see," and choose to focus in on, is a lie, that hides the death and disease and cruelty that is the true face of nature, God, and even humanity.

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