Religiously Recycling?

Should we bother recycling our waste?  Seems like a decidedly non-religious question doesn’t it?  However, how you answer that question actually comes down to how you see the world, how you think the universe is wired together.  Your answer says quite a lot about you.

There are three general ways that people have come to understand the universe.  People across the world don’t generally struggle with the concept of a God of some sorts, a spiritual entity that exists outside of us, someone or something that seems to play by a set of rules alien to ours.  Whether its the deities of the great world religions, the pagan entities of ancient civilisations, or even a New Age spiritual force, people throughout the ages have generally acknowledged the existence of a greater spiritual being.

God exists in one sphere, we humans (and everything else in the world) exist in another.  Where you understand those spheres to lie makes all the difference.  In the first option, the spheres are far removed.  God or the gods (or whatever you want to call them) are far removed from us.  God is remote, he does his own thing but doesn’t interfere with human affairs.  This view may be broadly defined as ‘deism’.  There is no contact between the two spheres in this view.  Humans are left to get on with it, with no interruption (or accountability) from above.

Choice two.  Its pretty much the opposite end of the scale.  The sphere of God and the sphere of the world are one.  They are fused together.  God and the world are indistinct.  In fact, you could go as far as saying that God is the world.  This view is known as ‘pantheism’.  Everything you touch, see and smell is God.  We are God.  I am God…and so are you in this view.  Everything is divine.

Final option.  God’s sphere and the world’s sphere are distinct but joined.  God is still God and the world is still the world, but in this option, there is contact between the two.  From the beginning of the universe, the two spheres have overlapped in increasing amounts.  God allowed connections to exist between the two spheres – where God may know what he has created, and indeed what he has created may know him.  In case you were wondering, option three is the view we find promoted in the Christian bible.  The connection between spheres was forged forever when God actually united himself with what he made, being fully God but also being a real, true man, a man they called Jesus of Nazareth.

Someone who views the universe much like option one is not likely to care all that much for the world, or anything in it.  In this worldview, there is absolutely no intervention from above – God doesn’t care about what’s going on down below, so why should we?  In fact, we are free to treat the world and each other just the way we want because…well why not?  There is nothing stopping us, no accountability from above, so just go right ahead.  Abuse of the earth soon follows.  Rapacious destruction of the earth’s natural resources is natural in option one.

But in option two, the world itself is God.  Everything is to be protected.  Nothing is to be consumed whatsoever.  Nature is venerated and essentially worshipped.  In this worldview, cultivation of the earth’s natural resources becomes very difficult.  It can play out in any number of ways, from obsession over ‘green’ issues to violence and terrorism against giant corporations in its most extreme form.

Option three however is an entirely different matter.  Only option three can marry wise, responsible use of the earth’s natural resources with a thoughtful, conscientious attitude towards protecting and conserving the planet.  Option three prevents excesses in either direction – of irresponsible and morally outrageous pillaging of the earth on one hand and excessive or aggressive concern for preservation of nature on the other.

People who live with option three have great concern for the planet.  They know that the original intent for humankind to wisely steward the earth’s natural resources still stands so they do all they can to look after it.  This includes every available method open to us today to protect, cherish and preserve the beautifully intricate ecological systems of the earth – including recycling our waste.  People who think they live in option three but yet don’t bother to recycle are functionally living in option one: they likely haven’t understood the mandate to humanity to look after the creation, or they think it has ceased to exist.  It hasn’t.