#8 From a Long Term Perspective Both Religion and Science Teach Us the Same Lessons

The second strong stable tower our communication bridge will use to flexibly support its span will, like the first tower, be built of a concept that also underlies the philosophies of both groups of believers in the Greenville and Growthton encampments. Once again, the two solitudes use totally different nomenclatures to define their beliefs. In fact agreeing with the viewpoint of the opponents on this aspect is often cause for expulsion from either encampment. Nonetheless, being a non-believer and a non-conformist allows me to happily hurdle this heresy.

The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship, a broadly accepted document by many Growthton folks, says, "God is sovereign over creation and therefore humans can do no permanent damage." A statement which should be read and understood by all to be both symbolic of the primacy of "God" [which, being a heathen, i always immediately translate into Nature] and an intonation to 'chill out' because in the long run our short term actions, regardless of how weighty our human hubris thinks them to be, a just a blip. Further that we may well be able to cause lottsa short term pain, up to and including our own extinction and that of myriad other species. We may well be so good at poisoning, polluting and shiting in our nest that we soon end up nesting in our shit, as the old 60's saying said, that "God" [Nature] spits us out like a rotten apple. But that in time, life will rebound. That we humans are a short term vector and that, despite our illusions of grandeur, we 'can do no permanent damage'.

Science says the same exact thing, one particular field of science - geology - is totally devoted to the subject. James Hutton, known as the father of modern geology and a devout theologian, presented a paper in 1788 to the Royal Society of Edinburgh titled 'Theory of the Earth; or an Investigation of the Laws observable in the Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration of Land upon the Globe' that changed for ever how humans would understand just how little their short duration on the globe mattered from a long term perspective.

In his paper Hutton described the Earth as being formed by a continuous cycle in which rocks and soil are washed into the sea, compacted into bedrock, forced up to the surface by volcanic processes, and eventually worn away into sediment once again. Hutton concluded his his great geological treatise by saying "that the Earth offered no vestige of a beginning,--no prospect of an end." By today's reckoning, Hutton was asserting the unimaginably extended, "deep" time frame of an ancient Earth, what we today call the Geologic Scale of Time [see chart above].

Hutton’s ideas provided the framework for everything we now call modern science. And just as the ideas that God [Nature] is sovereign and that humans can do no permanent damage conveys comfort and strength to one group of believers, so too does the idea that no matter how much we ignorantly shit in our own nest one day our entire consumptive culture's contribution will be a thin shiny line in geology's sedimentary record give others of us strength through the same solace.

Our communication bridge's towers are complete. The next job will be connecting them to each other and the abutments at each end with the massive girders underlying our interconnected lives.