By Jeff Krinock
January 13, 2023
I wrote to the late, great Becky Akers about a year before her too-early passing early in 2022. I wanted to share with her my horror upon learning that an "academic" had just published a book suggesting that all of humanity should be eliminated in the cause of saving the environment. Eliminated. I was familiar enough with Becky's own work to know that she would drop her jaw (as I did) upon finding yet another ostensibly educated person pronouncing her way out of our "scientific world" right back into the realm of (supposedly discredited) metaphysical decisions. The professor in question - I won't here give her name or the title of her book so as to avoid granting her one scintilla of publicity - decided it was her place to pontificate regarding humanity-ending decisions. The kinds of decisions that belonged, during sane eras, to God Almighty. Bring to an end all of mankind? Hey - why not? She has a PhD, right?
Returning to sanity, for a moment. About man and his role in life, death, and the environment, one of my favorite Psalms says this:
"You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen- Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas."
It's certainly true that in our era, just like the "academic" about whom Becky and I marveled, there are now teeming millions of our fellow human beings currently bowing to elements of nature (or, the earth, or to Gaia, or "the environment" - pick the name of your idol). These folks willingly worship and revere that which is neither eternal nor divine.
So it's almost confusing to read straightforward words, from God, no less, about man exercising "dominion". Really? We're to prevail upon nature, upon the environment, that false god so widely revered, venerated, and even downright worshipped in our day? Needless to say, unlike our unnamed "academic", the Psalm says not one word suggesting collective suicide in behalf of the environment, in some sort of macabre twisting of God's mandate to assert dominion. (As an aside, I'll note that those turning nature and the environment into false gods do so apparently ignorant of the most basic teachings provided by any decent Sunday School: Bad things come to idolaters. Really bad things.)
Sure, there might be room for a tad bit of confusion as to who, exactly, exercises dominion over nature, given that the Psalmist uses metonymy to define his subject: "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor."
Quibblers could (and probably do) ask, "what exactly does the Psalmist mean here by, man?" One thing is perfectly clear, though: The eighth Psalm makes no mention about governments, nations, or corporations exerting said dominion. Nor does the Psalmist suggest that God grants this globe-spanning dominion over nature to only select groups, such as Yuval Harari's "most intelligent" among us, nor the cyborg-ish post-humans found in the dreams of Lee Silver, Ray Kurzweil, Gregory Stock, and a growing number of "transhumanists" in our midst.
Just as fascinating to me, being a post-Nietzschean, is the eighth Psalm's lack of mention of an Ubermensch. Which is to say: Nothing in the Psalmist's wording seems to exclude any old regular Joe from exerting dominion over even the arcane aspects of God's green earth. Granted, I, being a regular Joe if there ever was one, don't spend much time where "the fish of the sea" pass through. But the Psalm's wording suggests that even those nuances of nature normally hidden from view (i.e., "the paths of the seas") are ripe for the taming. I.e., for taming by us - the contented members of regular-Joe tribes.
Tech for Me, but not for Thee
But today there's even more confusion about man and his relationship to nature than any we might encounter when reading the eighth Psalm. Think about it: Is there not something grotesquely odd about today's "leaders" funding research into the most nature-intrusive experimental technology anyone has ever imagined, while simultaneously egging on the masses to hate and abandon life-sustaining, reliable, and simple technologies like firewood and food fertilizer? How much cognitive dissonance are we to accept? We're now learning about multiple labs around the world looking into altering the DNA of viruses so that they can better infiltrate and influence the bodies of human beings. I speak here of the newly infamous "gain of function" research. Yet, at the same time, we're being told that collecting firewood (or, Gaia forbid - coal!) to heat hearth and home is an act of selfishness - at best. Nothing funny about the logic of the "elites" there, eh?
So clearly one issue at question here is limits. And more specifically, the issues at hand involve determining who applies limits to technology? And these limits are applied for what purpose? When and where do we apply these limits, and - perhaps the most intriguing question - we impose these limits for the benefit or protection of whom?
During the many centuries in which stirrups and leather saddles, a coal-fired smithy, or a tall-masted wooden ship were somewhere near the apex of technology, maybe it made little sense to concern ourselves about placing limits upon man's manipulation of nature. Those hot-coal fires of yesteryear, after all, pounded out merely one life-threatening knife or sword at a time. And thankfully those swords neither procreated nor morphed into oddly named variants chasing through our cloth masks. (Kraken swords, anyone?)
To be more blunt: Whereas for the ancient Greeks, Prometheus may have deserved the wrath of Zeus, his revelations to men about fire did not generate anything nearly as deadly as Fauci's gain-of-function research. Fauci and Prometheus - now there's an odd but rightly-paired couple for you.
But here's the rub: Today, while financial and technological "elites" are toying with ideas far more deadly than even nuclear technology, with some of them bragging openly about creating entirely new species of "post-humans," millions of citizens all over Europe and North America are self destructing by way of clamoring for states to outlaw simple technologies that form the very backbone of our continued physical existence.
There's some small degree of resolution to this dissonance if we acknowledge that straightforward "elitism" explains the current "tech for me, but not for thee" approach: Largely the same financial elites funding and encouraging death labs own or control much of the media and communication technology stirring up the wrath of Zeus in the common man - the common man being the newly angry regular Joes - guys very much like me. Which is another way of highlighting the sad fact that a Prince Philip could enjoy the life of royal luxury, jet-setting about the globe, while simultaneously writing in the preface to a children's book that in the future he'd like to return to earth as a deadly virus so that he could help kill people. (One presumes this future-Philip-virus would be engineered to bypass fellow royalty and elites? Maybe we'll have a high-tech new version of the Passover?)
Destructive Dialectic, Anyone?
The Psalmist neither called us to pagan mindsets that attribute sentience to various flavors of nature-idols, nor did he imply that our "dominion" over nature should reflect any version of abusive control or monstrous domination. With apologies to PETA, his wording suggests a warm welcome to farmers and fishermen. Heck, as a one-time aviator, I even like to imagine the reference to dominion over "the birds of the air" may have foreshadowed aviation. (Yes, I realize that's a stretch....)
But the enemy of our souls wants a lack of balance, both in us as individual children of God and within our communities and societies. Old Scratch encourages a complete disdain for harmony and moderation. There may even be yet another wicked dialectic at work here:
- Convince folks that yesteryear's tech threatens all of life;
- Point out that the "really smart" among us have a new tech;
- Resolve it all by making sure the new solutions - tech that alters the very genetic foundations of who we are, biologically speaking - will simultaneously eliminate us deluded lovers-of-coal-fires and ensure that the Hararis and the Gates of the world live on in their so-well-deserved ascendancy.
There's an irony of sorts at work here. Lust of chaos - a twisted desire for the kind of bedlam that ensues when we fail to address our lack of respect for the natural order as given by God Himself - has a mirror sin in lust of control. The writer of the eighth Psalm suggests what for millennia has been an accepted norm: That men, in their love of God and in their appropriate respect for His creation, shepherd all His creatures. Then along comes a wanna-be Prometheus with laboratories full of new fire. And as that fire evolves it becomes clear that soul-crushing (not to mention body-destroying) control of not just animals, fish, and birds is possible, but that this new tech can harness yet another of today's idols: Human evolution itself.
Yes, it's true. Read the works of today's purveyors of transhumanism, and you'll see that their Holy Grail is an admixture of biology, nanotech, and genetic engineering, operating in an infrastructure of technocracy, and put in motion to literally re-engineer humanity. Survival of the fittest changes its stripes the moment you put both the definition of "fittest" and the timeline and conditions of "survival" into the purview of well-funded lab coats. Transhumanists blush not at all when altering the definition of either (or both) of these words.
In my aging God-given skin, and even with my increasingly creaky DNA, given the choice between the new fire of transhumanism or the Psalmist's (implied) endorsement of a life of fishing and farming, I'll take the hoe and a fishing net. While I'm out and about, casting and digging, please get the firewood stacked and ready.