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Updated 17 February 2002.
Table of Contents
The mission of the Church of Nature is to stop the destruction of the planet’s biosphere because of the large human population and industrial activity. More specifically, it is to prepare for a global human population of ten million people – a single industrial nation of five million and a population of five million hunter-gatherers, distributed over the globe. It will accomplish this mission by creating an enabling environment in which all people on the planet may develop physically, emotionally, mentally, culturally and spiritually. The members of the Church will use the Church as a means of helping them develop; the Church will use the members to help advance its mission of preparing for a human population of ten million people.
The basic rationale for the goal of preparing for a global population of ten million people is the following:
The sooner that the human population size and industrial activity are reduced, the sooner the destruction of the environment will stop. For more information on the motivation for a global population for ten million, see the Internet web site http://www.foundationwebsite.org or http://www.foundation.bw.
The basic theology of the Church of Nature (CN) is natural theology, that is to say, a view of the universe that might reasonably be developed by a man born and raised in a remote region without benefit of human history or modern science. About all that we can be sure of in this context is that we have a conscious sense of being, and that we do not have a conscious sense that we created ourselves or know why or how we function. In view of our sense of being, it is accepted as evident that that our physical universe – the observable physical and mental context which we experience and in which we live – exists. Since we have no sense that we created ourselves (or even know how or why we continue to exist), it is accepted that the observable universe exists and functions because of a singular entity (Force, Life Force, Power, Ultimate Power, Universal Intelligence, Great Spirit, Mother Nature, Unity, Deity, Divinity, Creator, That Which Creates, Prime Mover, Supreme Being, God, Allah, Yahweh, Being, Existence, All, I Am That I Am, and many other names), and that this entity continues to exist. Applying the principle of parsimony, or “Ockham’s Razor” – assume/hypothesize the simplest possible model/representation of a system that is consistent with the observed facts – it is assumed that this entity is a singular (unitary) concept. (It is the concept of God that is singular – this does not preclude multiple manifestations or representations.) Assuming more than one entity is not needed to explain the facts, and just leads to complications (a host of questions arise, such as who are these other gods, did they share in creation, what god is in charge of or interested in me, how do I relate to the various gods) that have little or no bearing on how we run our lives or the Church’s mission. If there are multiple deities, such as in many religions (e.g., Romans, Hinduism), or multiple aspects of a single deity (e.g., the concept of Trinity) these multiple deities or aspects are simply subsumed into a singular, or unitary, concept, and we shall refer to that concept as God.
In line with current convention/tradition, we shall refer to God in English using the masculine personal pronoun, He. (Although this risks anthropomorphizing or personalizing or “genderizing” God, referring to God as a neutral “It” seems to diminish “Its” importance. Using the feminine personal pronoun would work as well, but the standard convention in languages having only two gender pronouns is to use the masculine by default when referring to an object whose gender is not known or that has no gender. The use of They might appear to contradict the concept of a singular, or unitary, God-concept, but it could refer to various manifestations of a single God-concept (and is traditional, e.g., in the Torah/Old Testament, “Let us make man in our image….” The use of “He or She” is cumbersome and distracting, and would appear to emphasize that God indeed has a gender, which is not at all implied. Introducing an additional personal pronoun just for God (e.g., Se) is considered unnecessary, and would also be distracting. Ardent feminists may replace the reference He for God by She, in everything that follows. The word “man” is used, as usual, to refer to mankind, or the human species.)
To be believable, it is necessary for a religion’s theology to have a high degree of face validity and be internally consistent. (Most religions have a high degree of external consistency – consistency with the observed world – since they specify as articles of faith those things that cannot be verified or proved.) The theology of the Church of Nature has a high degree of face validity. Its basic theology stems from aspects of human existence that are evident to everyone (sense of being, no consciousness of having created ourselves). A religion founded on revelation has no face validity at all. Internal consistency refers to the fact that the theology does not contain contradictions. For example, stating that God is omnipotent and that we may disobey his will is not consistent – if He is omnipotent, his will will be done, and it is not possible to contravene his will. Since the Bible contains many contradictions, a church or religion that includes an article of faith that the Bible is infallible is not internally consistent. It is not necessary that a religion be internally consistent, but it certainly makes it more credible, appealing to logical people, and easier to justify to oneself as worthy of acceptance.
It is also helpful to invoke the principle of “parsimony” – that is, to include as little as possible in the basic theology. A religion that includes a large amount of dogma or a large sacred literature or history or repertoire of saints or holy men or gods is headed for trouble. In general, the approach to specification of the Church’s theology is similar to that used by the scientific method to construct scientific theories (Ockham’s razor (simplicity), external validity/consistency (consistency with observed data), internal validity/consistency, face validity, etc.).
Another principle for establishing a church or religion is “utility,” or usefulness. A church is of little use if it attracts virtually no one as a member; many religions have died out for lack of interest. The problem may be one of theology or of its mission. If the theology is difficult to accept, or if its mission is not very relevant to human life, it is unlikely to endure for long. A church that exists for monks to enter trances and know God is unlikely to spread over the world and last. Because of its simplicity and high face validity, the theology of the Church of Nature will appeal to many. And its mission (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and cultural development for the individual; preservation of biodiversity; elimination of poverty and AIDS) will prove irresistible.
It is assumed that God (or an aspect of God) has a continuing interest in the life on planet Earth – that He did not simply create the universe and “walk away from it.” Otherwise, there is little point to religion (which may be defined as our view of the nature of God and our relationship to Him).
So why assert the existence (believe in) God at all? Or that if God exists, He has any interest in Earth? It could be posited that the universe simply exists and operates “on its own,” and that God is no longer present or no longer has an interest in life on Earth. Essentially, because, by definition, the mission of the Church requires it. The primary mission of the Church is to save the planet’s biodiversity from continued destruction at the hands of a high-population, industrialized human society, with God’s help. All previous human attempts to stop the destruction have failed. The Church of Nature is calling on God to help stop the destruction. If you do not wish to believe that He exists, that’s all right, that’s fine, that is your business. If you wish, as an atheist, to try to save the planet by nonreligious means, that is also your business, but that is not the mission of the Church.
That God exists is a tenet of the faith, a matter of belief. It cannot be proved, since it is not known whether God is or may be observed. If you do not accept the existence of God and his continued interest in the observable universe, then this Church is not for you.
Why is there a need for another church or religion? Several reasons. First, the primary purpose of the Church of Nature is to stop the destruction of biodiversity and the biosphere. Most other churches and religions are concerned with spiritual development of the individual (or perhaps simply with his adherence to a prescribed moral code), without concern for nature. While some churches pay lip service to stopping the destruction of the planet’s environment and biodiversity, no other church or organization is stopping it. The Church is certainly concerned with individual spiritual development, but that is largely the responsibility and domain of the individual (through meditation, prayer, and action). The Church will endeavor to create an enabling environment for the individual to develop physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and culturally, but it is not in the business of “saving souls.” It cannot save souls. That sort of thing is between you and God.
We shall avoid trying to define or describe the nature of God in any detail. Attempting to do so invariably runs into problems. We shall generally avoid using terms such as Creator or “That Which Created” or “That Which Creates” in referring to God. The reason for this is, despite their widespread use, these terms often cause problems. Use of the name “Creator” begs the question, what created God? If we include God in his creation, it follows that God created himself. Did God create God? The name Supreme Being is often used for God, but it implies that God is a separate being rather than an integral part of existence. The separateness of God (from creation) is not assumed, asserted, or implied by the Church. Because of the problems that occur when we attempt to define God in much detail, we shall leave the concept of God largely undefined, except for the general attributes discussed earlier. No attempt is made to answer these and many other questions about the nature of God and the universe. Attempting to answer them consumes much time and effort, produces little that can be agreed on, and simply takes away from the primary – and urgent – mission of the Church.
We shall simply assume that God exists and assume that He (or an aspect of Him) has an interest in Earth. Other aspects of Him may be of interest and may be explored and may be determined or revealed. Whether He exists independently of man, or whether man is part of God, or whether God is all, or all that is unobserved, or something else, is neither assumed nor asserted. What his particular interest in Earth is, is not specified. Answers to these and other theological questions – as interesting and important as they may be – are not necessary to the accomplishment of the current mission of the Church, or our functioning as human beings, or our leading a meaningful, purposeful, rich life.
It is not at all evident to humanity how or why the observable universe came into existence, how or why it continues to exist, and what its purpose is. More specifically, it is not evident what the purpose of life on Earth and human existence is. It is accepted as an article of faith that life on Earth, including human life, exists for some definite purpose – that it is not the result of some meaningless, purposeless, self-organizing, autonomous process. Otherwise, there is no meaning or purpose to human existence, or any aspect of it (such as the Church’s mission, for example), and God would certainly have no interest in it.
We have been using the term “universe” to include the observable universe and the unobservable universe (everything else). Under this definition, God is included in the universe (either in the observable part, or the unobservable part, or both). (Had we defined God as separate from the universe, then we would have to define the universe differently – e.g., as everything except God. Since the concept of God is not well defined, this causes a problem, since it then follows that the term ‘universe’ is not well defined. The concept of including God in the universe is rather explicit in Buddhism, but less obvious in other religions.)
From this point on, we shall drop the modifier “observable” from the term “observable universe,” and simply refer to the “universe.” It will be clear from context whether we are referring to the complete universe (all existence) or simply the observable part of it that we inhabit. (The “complete” universe is all-encompassing – including any other physical universes that may exist outside or parallel to our own observable universe. A sort of “set of all sets.”) We shall generally refer to God as if He existed as a being separate from man, but this is just a semantic convenience. No assertion or assumption is made concerning whether man is an integral part of God or a distinct, separate (created) being. Since his nature is not known, and the necessity of knowing it is not central to accomplishing the mission of the Church, the discussion will assume a simple conceptual representation for the nature of God. The discussion becomes unnecessarily complicated if it attempts to allow for all possibilities for the nature of God.
Note that we refer to God as a “singular” power. It is assumed that in this universe (i.e., the observable universe in which we live) there is but one, omnipotent, all-inclusive God-concept. All that exists in the universe, whether classified by man as “good” or “evil,” is his creation. It is assumed that man has (at least some degree of) free will. As an omnipotent God, He could choose to control man’s actions entirely, but then what would be the point to having created us? If not at least partially the result of free will, it is hard to imagine that our experiences would be of interest to anyone or anything. Does He interfere in human affairs? Will He allow the planet to die a greenhouse-gas death as the result of human industrialization, or will He provide assistance to avoid this if requested? If this is in fact the “sixth extinction” on planet Earth, it does not appear that planetary extinctions bother Him very much. Whole solar systems supernova on a regular basis. Perhaps watching the response of a civilized species (or even an individual) to the ultimate challenge of planetary extinction is a particularly fascinating “show.” But perhaps He will provide help if it is requested. Or maybe the likelihood of a human venture (such as a war, a Crusade, or saving a planet from industrial destruction) can be influenced by the religious faith and fervor of a large group of people. We shall assume that this is the case. If we were to assume otherwise, there would be little point to the Church’s mission or trying to accomplish it.
The notion of free will and the concept of omnipotence deserve some additional comment. Obviously, man is “free” to act only within the physical laws of the universe. Note that free will does not imply unrestricted physical power – we may choose to fly, but simply cannot do it. A difficulty arises if it is posited that God imposes “commandments” or “will” on mankind. If He is indeed omnipotent, his will would always be implemented (otherwise it would not be his will). If we assume that human beings have free will, does it then follow of necessity that God will not intervene to thwart it? It is not clear. His will will clearly always be implemented (by omnipotence). But could there be desires or preferences that He might choose to implement, if man’s free will is leading in a direction that He does not desire? This is certainly imaginable. In other words, man has free will to try anything he wishes, but he may be thwarted if God does not like the likely (or certain) result. In this case, “commandments” are not “commandments” at all, but merely statements of preference or norms of conduct. In summary, if commandments are God’s will, then they must be obeyed (since it is his will and He is assumed omnipotent), but if commandments are simply God’s preferences (or guidelines, or nonmandatory desires, or simply behavioral norms), then they may or may not be obeyed.
Does God intervene in human affairs? In a sense He does (or did) – He created us! But how about in a more localized (in time and space), microscopic sense? We shall assume that He may – that He has an interest in mankind’s existence. If mankind continues to destroy the biosphere at the same rate as in recent years, it will indeed destroy the biosphere. God may or may not intervene to stop it, no matter how “regrettable” it may seem to us to see the end of 4.5 billion years of evolution. It is hard to imagine that this (or anything else) would be regrettable (regret is a rather human feeling) to Him, since He could simply create another universe (or galaxy or solar system or world), but maybe He does not choose to do so, for whatever reason (e.g., a curious desire to explore a slightly different future, or a special favor to a special soul, or an interest in observing a complete evolution of a planetary civilization). What it means is that if the biosphere is to be saved, it may very well be in man’s hands to do it. God may not care either way, or He may cause it to happen, or He may not allow it to happen. If He causes it to happen or does not allow it to happen, we have no choice in the matter, and our efforts or lack of them don’t matter (have an effect on the outcome). But if God does not care either way (about either the process or the final result), then He may simply let the outcome (or process) be what mankind chooses (or let the outcome be determined in some other way, e.g., by chance, or in response to a prayer). In this case, it is very possible that mankind can affect the outcome (or process). And that is where the Church of Nature comes in and is important. It will work collectively and aggressively (but within the law!) to change the collective will of mankind to reduce the human population of planet Earth from its current level (over six billion) to a level of ten million (which from (natural) history has been proved supportable). Our theology admits (by the reasoning presented above) for the possibility that we can make a difference in the outcome, in the fate of the planet’s biosphere, in the destiny of mankind and other life on the planet.
If mankind does not have free will, then the state of the planet is totally up to God, and the Church and its mission are irrelevant.
Individuals and local units are free to develop their relationship with God, by meditation and prayer. The statement of theology, and the existence of the Church and its adopted mission, is not intended to restrict spiritual development, but to facilitate it.
The following paragraphs provide observations by the Church founder. As the Church has been founded just recently (August 17, 2000 at Solitaire, Namibia), they are considered to be in “draft” form. They are intended to provide guidance to local units in the philosophy of the Church, to answer basic religious, moral and spiritual questions that prospective members may ask. They are not represented as “revelation.” They are intended as suggestions, recommendations, and guidance to facilitate the development of a Church that can succeed in its mission. The Church headquarters is open to discussion of issues raised by local units and individuals. The Church headquarters may be contacted at email@example.com. Additional insight will be provided as requested.
The Church of Nature draws on the literature of all religions, and indeed on all literature and knowledge, in reflecting on issues of concern to religion, such as the nature of God, the role of religion, spirituality, ethics and morality. As a church of natural theology, it is not concerned with historical figures or events, such as prophets, messengers, miracles or revelations. It draws on other religions and systems of philosophy for insight. With respect to moral guidance, it aligns closely with the Golden Rule, or mandate of Jesus and Hillel to do unto others as you would have them do to you. While it certainly regards some works of literature more highly than others, it does not identify any as “infallible,” or the “unique holy word of God.” Since God is the ultimate creator, everything flows ultimately from him. Everything may be viewed as the work of God, a miracle, or a revelation from God. Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed – indeed, every man – all are creations of God, and therefore are messengers from God. The Church takes no position on events that it has not observed, such as the Virgin Birth, the Immaculate Conception, the Resurrection, or other “miracles” or revelations. Maybe they happened, maybe they did not – it simply doesn’t matter.
The Church does not lay down specific “commandments.” The Old Testament observation, “What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and to obey the Lord’s commands,” is not accepted as dogma. Neither are the Ten Commandments. Since God is omnipotent, his will is always obeyed. He does not need to be feared, or served, or worshipped, or obeyed. What then, is the purpose of life and mankind? As Jesus noted, “I am here that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.” Life is to be lived, experienced, for whatever purpose God, the Creator, intended. When asked, what is the greatest commandment in the Law, Jesus replied, "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” In this general sense – a commandment that embodies the Golden Rule (‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you’) is a reasonable guide to moral and ethical behavior.
Can a Christian, a Jew, or a Moslem (or member of any other religion) be a member of the Church of Nature? So far as the Church of Nature is concerned, the answer is yes, as long as he subscribes to its basic theology (unitary concept of God) and mission (preparation for a world population of ten million, etc.). The Church accepts the basic ideals of Christ, whether the events recorded in the Bible are historically accurate or not. It is hence a “Christian” church. It views the Ten Commandments as a reasonable moral code. It does not require obedience to “Jewish law” (e.g., restrictions on foods, circumcision, requirement to periodically free all Jewish slaves). With respect to the five “pillars of Islam” (there is but one God and Mohammed is a messenger of God, prayer five times a day, almsgiving, fasting during the day during the month of Ramadan, hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca)), it has no problem with any of them, but does not require anything but affirmation of the singularity of God and committed to the Church's mission.
So far as the other religions are concerned, the answer may be no. Belief that Jesus be viewed as a separate God, equal to God, would violate the concept that there is but one God-concept. If belief in the Trinity refers to nothing more than different manifestations of God, then that is not a problem. If the concept of the Trinity is viewed as a belief in three gods, then that is a clear violation of the concept of a singular God-concept. As a church of natural theology, the Church of Nature is not concerned with arguing about semantic concepts such as the Trinity, or in unobserved events such as miracles, or in the whole variety of dogma (Resurrection, Infallibility, Original Sin, Ten Commandments) that has evolved in the last instant of evolution. (The concept of the Trinity was introduced by the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD – it is not included in the Bible. Recent work, including analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls, does not support the concept of the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection, or suggest that Jesus was other than a physically normal human being. See Jesus the Man by Barbara Thiering or Bloodline of the Holy Grail by Laurence Gardner for discussion.)
The position of the Church of Nature is similar in many ways
to that of the Unitarian / Universalist Church. There is no Hell, and you do not need to “accept Christ as your
personal savior” to achieve “salvation” for your soul. Since atheism is included as an acceptable
personal theology by the Unitarian Universalist Church, however, not all
Unitarians would subscribe to the theology of the Church (existence of a
unitary God-concept, some aspect of which has an interest in man).
If you feel uncomfortable with the concept of the Resurrection, or with the requirement that you must fast during Ramadan, or that you must “believe in” Jesus (accept him as a personal savior) to be “saved,” perhaps the concept of natural theology and the Church of Nature is for you. If you feel uncomfortable professing belief in all of the historical dogmata that mankind’s religions have constructed in recent history, then perhaps the Church of Nature is for you. The Church of Nature is not going to try to convince you of anything, or to “talk you out of” your current faith/religion. It offers membership to all those who accept the concept of a singular God and wish to commit to the mission of saving the planet’s biodiversity and preparing for a world of ten million people.
With respect to the relationship between church and state, the Church subscribes basically to the Christian concepts, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto the Lord what is the Lord’s” and “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.” The Church and the state operate largely independently of each other. The basic role of the Church is to define the relationship of man to God, and, through accomplishment of its mission, to enable mankind to develop (“enjoy life more abundantly”). On matters of morality and ethics, the individual is encouraged to respect and obey the laws imposed by his family, tribe, culture, society, and nation. If those laws are not just, work to change them. The state imposes laws (“commandments”), and the state will punish those who break those laws. It is not the role of religion to impose punishments for lawbreaking. If a member is not “working out,” counsel him, work with him (as discussed in the New Testament), and if all this fails, then ask him to leave.
Some individuals, such as George Washington, may reject the government in power, and seek to overthrow it by force. That is not required or expected or desired of Church members. While certain individuals may be inspired to armed rebellion and military conquest, the Church will accomplish its mission peacefully, working through all the world's people, rather than by military action. If the Church were to adopt military action as part of its approach, it would encounter massive resistance, appeal to few, and likely fail in its mission. While the Church views war as an intrinsic aspect of human existence and a legitimate instrument of established governments, military action is the province of other organizations, not the Church. In this regard, it aligns itself with the peaceful ideals of Jesus of Nazareth.
On social issues such as murder, adultery, lying, theft, infanticide, abortion, drug abuse and homosexuality, use the Golden Rule as a guide. Meditate, or pray, and follow your heart. Apply ethical criteria (is it legal, is it balanced (reasonably equitable to all parties), do you feel right about it). Obey local laws in these matters. The Church is not concerned with detailed discussion of what constitutes “the law” or “sin.” The mission of the Church is to prepare for a world of ten million people. Look inside yourself for guidance on moral or ethical issues (or any other problems or concerns, for that matter), not to Church dogma. Except for general guidance (the Golden Rule, meditation, prayer), the Church will not “make it easy for you” by telling you precisely what is right and what is wrong. In detail, such matters are between you and God. Some concepts of the native peoples of North America (“Amerindians”) are worth noting. A homosexual person was considered strange, but a creation of the Great Spirit, and under his protection. When an animal was killed for food or other products, the spirit of the animal was thanked for the use of his physical body.
As D. H. Lawrence observed, no nation can be Christian, since it cannot follow the Golden Rule, or turn the other cheek, or “judge not that ye be not judged,” or ascribe to many other Christian ideals. The Church and the state are concerned with essentially different domains of human activity. The Church is concerned primarily with spiritual matters, and the state with regulation of social activities, government, laws, punishment, war, and the like. So why is the Church concerned with saving the planet’s biodiversity by preparing for a world of ten million people – that seems on the surface to be a “secular” issue? The fact is that many religions are not normally concerned with matters of state. Now that the planet is threatened, however, and all secular attempts to resolve the problem have failed, and the nations of the world are in fact causing the destruction (promotion of population growth, economic growth and industrialization, institutionalization of grinding poverty on a grand scale), this Church can no longer stand idly by. (In fact, the destruction of the planet’s biodiversity at the hands of industrialization is the very reason for its creation.) To a considerable degree, people cannot progress spiritually in today’s world. The mission of the Church is, in essence, to recreate an enabling environment in which human beings can develop physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and culturally. The environment of the modern, overpopulated, industrial world is inconsistent with this goal. The global industrial civilization of today has set itself up as an enemy of humanity and the planet's natural environment. It has declared war on nature and on humanity.
On the issue of war, the Church is more in line with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam than with Unitarianism, which decries war. War, as sex, is one of the great human experiences. War is very human and a very necessary part of human existence. Peace has been far more destructive to the planet than war ever was. The Church is not pacifist; any individual or local unit (of any nation) may pray to God for victory, or an honorable death in battle.
The moral principles of Buddhism (as a means of spiritual development) are not inconsistent with the principles of the Church. Buddhism rejects the concept of an “external” Creator God or Prime Mover – all phenomena in the universe are produced by internal causes. Problems associated with the concept of God as a creator, and conceptual difficulties associated with asserting whether God is internal or external to the universe (i.e., a part of his creation) were noted earlier. Buddhists are rather fixated on the issue of killing, to the point of recommending a vegetarian diet and pacifism. While Buddhists express a concern for the environment, it would appear that they would not kill to preserve it. Individual Buddhists would have to decide for themselves whether their concept of the universe is consistent with the God-concept discussed above.
A Hindu could be a member of the Church, provided that the gods of Hinduism are viewed as manifestations (or creations) of a singular God-concept.
A believer in the gods of the Egyptians, Greeks, or Romans could also be a member of the Church, so long as the gods of these religions are viewed as manifestations or creations of a unitary, or collective, or comprehensive God-concept.
The Church takes no position on articles of faith or dogma of other religions (such as the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, Original Sin, Infallibility of the Pope or Bible, miracles, revelations) unless they run counter to the Church’s theology (unitary God-concept) and mission. In view of this, any assertion that Jesus is a god on a par with God is rejected. He is viewed simply a manifestation created by God, as Abraham, Moses, Mohammed, you or I or any other part of physical creation. With respect to miracles, the Church takes no position. An omnipotent God can certainly empower part of his creation to do anything He wishes. Whether Jesus performed miracles is neither accepted nor contested – it is simply viewed as irrelevant. The concept of the Trinity is either rejected or irrelevant, depending on its specific definition (three gods, or three aspects of one God). (The term “rejected” is perhaps too strong. The Church is simply rejecting the notion as an item of its theology. As discussed, matters of faith cannot be proved, and so the Church is not interested in wasting effort in arguing the validity of matters of faith. This Church has stated its theology and mission, and is offered as an alternative to anyone and everyone who wishes to accept this theology and participate in this mission.)
These observations are presented to clarify the implications of the Church’s theology, not to try to convince anyone of the validity of this (or any other) church or religion. The Church is not concerned with arguing over dogma. If you choose to accept the Church’s theology and mission, that is great. If you do not, that’s fine, too. As mentioned, points of dogma cannot be proved or disproved – they are in the nature of hypotheses, not statements of fact. Different religions and churches are analogous to different systems of mathematics. For example, Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries are simply based on different premises (postulates, axioms). Each system is internally consistent. Neither system is “false” or “true” – just based on different premises (“articles of faith”).
Although the Church has leaders, no one plays the role of an intermediary between man and God. Each human being establishes his own “communion” with God, through meditation and prayer.
The Church attaches special importance to the ideals expressed by Jesus of Nazareth (as recorded in the Bible) – to do unto others as you would have them do to you, and to love one another as yourself. While the Church of Nature is a church of natural theology, it may also be described as a Christian church, in view of the alignment of its philosophy with Jesus’ teachings. The Church does not view Jesus as God (or not God), however, or as a surrogate for God. It is the ideals of Jesus that are important, not the historical person.
The Church recognizes Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, and other significant religious leaders also as part of God’s creation, and has no problem with their being viewed as “messengers” of God or manifestations of God (or part of God, as you or I may also be). It is the views, concepts, and ideals that these people contributed that are important, not their historical roles, or activities, or special powers, or accomplishments, or physical persons.
The Church has no icons, idols, holy scriptures, revelations, revered personalities or other symbols or artifacts to which it attaches special importance. It exists only as an idea, a concept. What is important is its mission. When that mission is over, the role of the Church will be over as well. It has been created to stop the destruction of biodiversity by industrialization and to lead to a small global human population. When this goal is achieved, the mission of the Church will have been achieved, and its reason for existence will cease.
A religion is a statement or hypothesis about the nature of the universe. It represents an attempt to develop a complete, consistent theory that explains the meaning or significance or purpose of the universe and man’s role in it. (While the development of a complete, consistent system of mathematical logic has been proved impossible (Gödel), there is no reason to believe that this same situation applies to the realm of the metaphysical. But who really knows – maybe it is impossible for man to know God.) The science of physics, including cosmology, attempts to explain the nature of the universe, but it deals merely with some aspects of how things happen, not why. It is concerned mainly with the physical (observable) universe. It is hence rather useless as a help in understanding the nature of the universe from the point of view of religion (the metaphysical), which is concerned more with “why” than with “how.” Physics is concerned with the development of a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) or Theory of Everything (TOE) for the physical universe. Religion is concerned with constructing a “metaphysical” TOE that explains, additionally, the nature of the life force and the role of man in the universe (i.e., the meaning of life). Although physics has made impressive strides in the last several centuries, it offers little insight into the nature of God. (See Just Six Numbers by Martin Rees for a readable description of the state of current cosmological science. All of the insight of modern science has shed little if any light on the nature of God – is our universe one of an infinite number of universes popping into existence with different values of the basic physical constants (i.e., a “multiverse”), or has an intelligent God “fine-tuned” the values of the physical constants to just those values that result in a universe of galaxies, stars, planets, life, and intelligent life? And even if it determines the answer to this question, it will still not have the answer to “why?”)
In science, it is attempted to develop the simplest theory that is consistent with the observed facts (observations). As noted earlier, the approach of adopting the simplest theory is referred to as the principle of parsimony, or “Ockham’s Razor,” named after the English philosopher William of Ockham (“Plurality is not to be assumed without necessity,” or “Don’t multiply entities more than is absolutely necessary.”). The Church of Nature proposes, as a hypothesis, the existence of a unitary God-concept, an aspect of which has an interest in mankind. Other religions are founded on other hypotheses.
The hypothesis of the existence of a singular, omnipotent God-concept is a little redundant. It proposes (1) the existence of God; (2) his omnipotence; (3) his singularity; and (4) his interest in mankind. The third premise actually follows from the second: if God is omnipotent, He must be singular (unitary), by the definition of “omnipotent” (there could not be two “omnipotent” gods, since they cannot both be all-powerful). The existence of an omnipotent God-concept does not preclude the existence of multiple deities or spiritual beings, any more than it precludes the existence of human beings. Multiple gods may exist; but at most one of them can be omnipotent.
The hypothesis of the existence of an omnipotent God is not the simplest one that is consistent with observed facts (our awareness of our existence and lack of consciousness concerning our creation or continuity). A simpler hypothesis might be, for example, to assert that God exists, but to make no assertion concerning omnipotence. This proposition is attractive to some. The argument goes that one has a choice between a God that is all-powerful, and therefore has created or has control over good and evil, or a God that is (creates, controls) only good, and therefore is not omnipotent. This leads to complications (how many gods are there, what are they responsible for, etc.). Hence, dropping the premise of omnipotence leads to substantial additional complications. This model, or paradigm, has nevertheless appealed to many cultures (e.g., the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Hindus). It would appear that the hypothesis of an omnipotent God is about the simplest one available (but even it is not simple!).
Human existence can be explained either with a singular God (monotheism) or plural gods (polytheism). Polytheism admits the possibility of an omnipotent God and other nonomnipotent gods. A variety of other scenarios might be entertained, such as the possibility that one or more gods created the universe, and that different gods are in charge of different parts or aspects of it, e.g., of different galaxies or solar systems or planets, or “parallel” universes, or activities (god of war, god of love, god of the sea, god of harvest, god of fertility, etc.). For example, Jesus (or Gaia) may have been assigned authority over the Earth. In this case, there would be no point in praying to God, since He had delegated authority on Earth to Jesus. On the other hand, an omnipotent God would probably not take offense at our wrong hypothesis about his nature, but might reasonably make provision for misdirected prayers to be received by the local god in charge.
It is evident that once we depart from the hypothesis of a singular, omnipotent God, we encounter a plethora of problems. A compelling reason for hypothesizing a singular, omnipotent God is simplicity (Ockham’s Razor). Either premise (single God or multiple gods) is consistent with the observed facts. Once the possibility of multiple, power-sharing gods is allowed, however, there is no end to the complexity that follows. This same problem occurs when each member of a church is encouraged to develop his own theology – each member might have his own “revelation from God,” with no end to the complexity of the collective theology (and encourage an endless proliferation of sects). The operative matter is, does it make a difference in man’s life, or the mission of the Church, to believe in a unitary God-concept versus multiple gods. What is the result of making an error? Which would be worse – to believe in a single God when multiple gods existed, or to believe in many gods, when only one existed? Would it make a difference in the likelihood of the Church’s accomplishing its mission or in your development as a human being? Of the two types of error, either one could be serious. If a single omnipotent God exists and you pray to a lesser god, you may be ignored. Since He created you but did not reveal his singularity to you, however, your error would surely be understandable. If many gods exist and you pray to a disinterested singular, omnipotent God, you may also be ignored, but on the other hand a “local” god may accept and respond to your prayers.
In view of the evident impossibility of knowing much about the nature of God, it seems foolish to ascribe attributes to God that we cannot observe or even infer. Singular God, multiple gods, omnipotent, power-sharing – who knows the answers. For this reason, we shall restrict consideration to the concept introduced at the beginning of this discussion, i.e., that of a singular God-concept, an aspect of which has an interest in man and Earth. That is all that is necessary for the accomplishment of the Church’s mission. In essence, we shall view God as Nature, as the Reason for Existence. We shall direct our prayers to Nature, to That Which Is in Charge and Is Interested in Man. This concept is operationally useful. It avoids all of the problems associated with trying to decide whether it is preferable to believe in one God, or many gods, or an omnipotent God, or a limited God. It is inclusive – most people would have little basis for rejecting the theology, since it accepts all historical figures and events as manifestations of God. The major issue is whether they will commit to the mission. In summary, the Church is not interested in speculating about the nature of God, beyond aspects that relate to its mission.
The Church is not concerned primarily with individual souls – the development of your soul is in your hands and the hands of God, not in the hands of the Church. Its mission is concerned with the collective state of humanity. Each individual will commune with God in his own way and make his own progress, whether the Church exists or not. The Church’s primary concern is with its mission, here and now on Earth. God willing, your soul will endure long after the Church and this solar system have passed from the scene (or it may evolve to something else, or it may cease to exist). At best the Church will create an enabling environment for human physical, mental, emotional, cultural and spiritual development. Through the Church (its program and mission), you may find an opportunity for your spirit to progress and grow.
Although the Church’s mission is a collective, global one, the mission of the Church is concerned very much with individuals. Without individuals and local-level effort, nothing will be accomplished. Although the Church’s mission is a collective one, it is implemented through the work of individuals and local-level groups. The Church is concerned with preparing for a poverty-free environment in an ecologically rich biosphere, in which all individuals may work toward their cultural, mental, and spiritual development.
What matters is what the Church accomplishes for humanity and the planet, and therefore for all future generations of planetary life, including man. That mission will be accomplished by means of the service of individuals. It offers the individual the opportunity to develop, and to participate in the single most important project ever to face humanity, or life on the planet for the last 65 million years. The Church is simply a vehicle by which men and women, dedicated to the ideals of Jesus, can accomplish the total elimination of poverty and the saving of the biosphere. This will be accomplished by the ending of the industrial era. No single individual or private group has been able to stop the rampant extinction of species caused by industrial activity. No governmental or nongovernmental or supragovernmental agency (e.g., United Nations, World Bank) has accomplished anything of significance. In fact, all nations (and supragovernmental organizations) are committed to increased industrial activity, and therefore to more destruction of wildlife habitat and the environment. (It is of interest to note the views of both US presidential candidates, Gore and Bush, in the first “presidential debate” (October 3, 2000). Both candidates expressed desire to increase exploration for more oil, and to use more coal. They completely ignored the fact that the planet’s reserves are finite and rapidly disappearing. Their views are so shortsighted as to defy comprehension. To his credit, Gore stated that he would choose to forego the exploitation of oil in some sensitive environmental areas; evidently Bush would exploit them all.)
It is not generally recognized (or admitted) that if the planet's environment/biodiversity is to be saved from destruction, there must be less industrial production on the planet, not more, as is being called for by all political leaders. This fundamental fact pits the Church diametrically against all current political and economic organizations: to save the planet, it is committed to less industrial activity, not more.
The Church represents, for the individual, an opportunity to accomplish something truly significant – to participate in the transformation of the planet from the industrial era to the post-industrial era. By accomplishing this transition in a rapid, planned, orderly fashion, mankind will transition to a world with much of the biodiversity intact. No other group or movement has been able to stop industrialization, the relentless consumption of all fossil fuels, and the rapid destruction of biodiversity. The Church of Nature is “the Green Church.”
With or without the Church's help, the human population will drop to about half a billion or less within about 50 years, as fossil fuels exhaust (petroleum and natural gas in 50 years, coal somewhat later). Without a major intervention, 50 additional years of environmental destruction, greenhouse-gas build-up, habitat destruction, and species extermination at the rate of 30,000 per year (on the order of 100 per day), will surely destroy the planet’s biosphere and most of its large species. With God’s help we can avoid this catastrophe.
The human population will drop to less than 500 million as soon as fossil fuels exhaust, or before. The issue is not the ultimate size of the human population – that has been and will always be determined by the planet’s size, composition, and current solar energy budget. The planet’s present massive human population is but a “blip” on the evolutionary time scale. The Church offers you the opportunity of working on the most exciting and important project of all time – the transition from the industrial era to the post-industrial era. If done well, the result will be a planet with much of its remaining biodiversity intact, and a world free of poverty. If done poorly, the result will be a world devoid of much of its biodiversity, and perhaps all life. All previous attempts in this matter have failed to make a significant difference. You can make a difference. You can participate. “Oh God, use me as an instrument of thy desire.”
It should not be assumed that your personal odds of survival will be improved by joining the Church. In fact, they may be diminished. If the Church is successful in its mission, mankind has the possibility of lasting for millions of years longer. If it fails, mankind may not survive another 50 years. In other words, the odds that human beings are still alive in a thousand or a million years are definitely improved. But what does this mean for you as a particular individual alive at the present time? Whether you will live or die over the next few years depends primarily on whether you happen to live in a city that is destroyed in a global nuclear war, or in a rural area that is not targeted, is not “fried” by radioactive fallout, and has a source of food sufficient to feed you and your surviving neighbors.
But how could participation in the Church possibly diminish your chance of survival? Well, one reason is that the Church is preparing for a total planetary population of about ten million. At that level, the biodiversity of the planet is sustainable. Attempting to achieve a higher population either jeopardizes the planet’s biodiversity or results in massive poverty, or both. From the point of view of your own survival (or others who are alive today), however, it could well be that it is greater if the goal were a population of 500 million living in dire poverty rather than ten million without poverty (a single industrial nation of five million and a hunter-gatherer population of five million distributed over the globe). The attempt to maximize the likelihood of survival of the Earth’s massive population alive today can be achieved only by severely diminishing the likelihood of survival of its future population. There is a definite tradeoff between the number of people alive on the planet at a point in time and the odds of survival at a later time. Your personal odds of survival are probably greatest if global industrialization proceeds to destroy the planet utterly in a biological collapse in about 50 years, since you will likely die of old age before that happens. If that does happen, however, the odds of anyone surviving beyond another 50 years are very low.
So joining the Church, while it may lead to personal development and improved chances of long-term survival for the biosphere, could possibly result in your odds of survival being lessened. How altruistic are you? How greedy are you? How afraid are you of dying? Would you rather ensure your own survival at the cost of destroying the human race and the biosphere, or would you rather accept some personal risk to promote the survival of future generations and the biosphere? It is not the mission of the Church to maximize the probability that you survive to old age. It is the mission of the Church to promote the survival of the biosphere and future generations, and at the same time afford you the opportunity for personal development and participation in this worth mission.
Lest there be any mistake, it is not the mission of the Church to directly bring about a population reduction to ten million by war, disease, or any other means. It is the mission of the Church to prepare for a world population of ten million people (because that will save the human race in a diverse biosphere). It will visualize it, prepare for it, and, by its actions, promote the long-term survival of a diverse biosphere (with human beings in it). How it happens is outside of the domain of the Church.
The following are some personal reflections of the Church founder. They are general viewpoints/opinions on a number of current topics. Through meditation and prayer, you may reach a different conclusion for your own particular situation or problem. The following observations are not part of the basic theology of the Church, as described above (unitary God-concept, an aspect of which has an interest in man). They are one man’s opinion on particular topics.
On War. The Old Testament Commandment, “Thou shall not kill,” refers to murder by individuals, not to war conducted by a state. As Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto the Lord what is the Lord’s.”
On Capital Punishment. Punishment is in the realm of the state, not of religion.
On Slavery. Slavery is allowed under Jewish law, and is not proscribed by Christianity or Islam. According to the New Testament, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” Slavery is a result of economic development. It does not exist in a hunter-gatherer society. Slavery is in the province of the state, not of religion.
On Abortion. Is abortion right or wrong? That is left to the individual to decide. Consider the Golden Rule. What would Jesus have done? If abortion is in general wrong, however, it would seem that it is wrong in every case, without exceptions such as “except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.” Perhaps to save the life of the mother? Some abortions are grisly business (e.g., late-term partial-birth abortions, which involve sucking a baby’s brains out). Obey governmental laws.
On Poverty. Poverty is a byproduct of economic development. Poverty does not exist in a hunter-gatherer society. It will not exist on a planet with a single nation-state of five million and five million hunter-gatherers distributed globally.
On Violence. The Church does not endorse, support, or encourage illegal violence to achieve its mission. It does endorse the use of war by society, as do Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Church can best accomplish the initial phase of its mission (of preparing for a low-population post-industrial world) within the framework of established governments. Expend energy on preparing for the future, not in battling existing governments. As the industrial world collapses, a time will come for the establishment of a single nation-state. It will destroy all other states and implement a worldwide hunter-gatherer population. War is in the bailiwick of the state, not of religion. Gratuitous violence (e.g., family violence, sadism) is condemned (counterproductive) – one of the evils that renders life meaningful.
On Morality. While the Church promotes and encourages the traditional monogamous family, the rules governing marriage and divorce are set by the state, not by religion. The particular moral code adopted by an individual is not a major concern, as long as it is consistent with the Golden Rule. The Church does not promulgate Commandments or a particular moral code, and does not mete out punishment for infractions of any moral code. Punishment for violation of laws is in the realm of the state, not of religion. Local units may expel any member whose behavior is unacceptable.
On Ethics. Consider the three criteria: is it legal; is it balanced (reasonably equitable to all concerned); do you feel good about it.
On Marriage and Divorce. Marriage is a cultural/social institution, which is invariably governed by the state. The state is interested in marriage because it affects property rights of children. Local units may subscribe to the Ten Commandments (no adultery) or other moral code, as permitted by local government (e.g., monogamy). The experience of the founder is that there is much to be gained from a committed, monogamous (heterosexual) relationship. Adultery can cause much pain, and promiscuity can cause much disease. Persons in dysfunctional marriages should meditate, pray, and act.
On the Matter of Risk. Mankind loves adventure. He loves to be involved in matters of life and death. Most men who have been to war consider it one of the most significant aspects of their life. The chance to kill or be killed. Early adventurers, such as the Vikings, risked their lives to go forth to conquer, rape and pillage, when they could have much more easily stayed at home and quaffed mead. Columbus and his men risked sailing off a flat earth in their quest for adventure. If risk does not exist, man will create it. A happily married man will risk an adulterous affair and the loss of his family, for a few moments of excitement. Gambling is present in all cultures. Mankind seeks varieties of experience. If life becomes too regular, man will seek to introduce uncertainty into it.
On the Matter of Personal Responsibility and Accountability. A person chooses a life of crime, or drug addiction, or embezzlement, and spends much of his life in jail, or is executed. Who is to blame? The man or God? Did God create him with insufficient character to avoid these problems? God created a being with free will, but some with “good” character and some with “bad.” God created, so God is ultimately responsible. But man is certainly accountable (i.e., may be punished), even if he is not responsible for the creation of his own being. Judge not that ye be not judged. There but for the grace of God go I. A person born with no sense of shame or morality will find it much more difficult to avoid wrong decisions and a life of pain than a person with a sociable, easy-to-please personality, even though both have free will. It may not be his fault that he was created with insufficient strength of character to stay out of trouble, but he will surely be punished by society for his transgressions. That people all have free will does not at all mean that they have the same desire or strength to do what is right. Society will take steps to reward, punish, or attempt to modify the behavior of individuals. But try to do it out of duty or love, to help, or for the greater good, not out of hatred or vindictiveness, vengeance, or revenge.
On the Matter of Sin. The Church does not recognize the concept of “Original Sin,” or for that matter, the concept of sin at all. Actions may be classified as “good” or “evil” (or essentially neutral, or not known) by man, and human beings may engage in those actions, and they will be accountable to society for them. The concept of “sin” refers to commission of actions that are characterized as being “against God’s will,” or disapproved of in some sense by Him. But, as discussed earlier, if God is assumed omnipotent, then his will is always implemented. So sin can refer only to commission of actions that are in some sense not preferred by God. But what are God’s preferences or desires? Are they the Ten Commandments? Are they the Golden Rule? Are they society’s rules? Are they your own moral code (internal sense of what is right)? The latter two vary tremendously from society to society and individual to individual. If an individual acts counter to God’s desires, what are the consequences? Is there, as posited by Eastern philosophy, a “karma” system of cause and effect that forces us to live lives over and over again until we “get it right”?
The Church has no specific answers to these questions. It is not easy to define sin or specify what constitutes sin, or what the consequences of sin are. Moreover, the specific answer would not have a lot of impact on the likelihood of success of the Church’s mission. From the point of view of individual development, it would appear that having the individual develop his own moral code through meditation and prayer would be a good approach. The problem with this, as any parent knows, is that many children, and many people, do not have a strong innate sense of morality, and are not particularly interested in applying prayer and meditation to develop one. Small children lie and steal. Parents teach them what is “right” and help develop a sense of morality. In a broken or dysfunctional home, the instruction may be poor or lacking altogether (e.g., street children). It is not a practical approach to let young children develop their own sense of morality. (Bring up a child in the way that is right, and when he is old he will not depart from it.) For this reason, the Church adopts the Golden Rule as the basis for moral behavior. If more specific guidance is needed, local units may adopt the Ten Commandments. But these guidelines are not to be considered or implemented in any sense as “commandments” – they are guidelines of conduct. Commandments are for the state to specify, and for the state to punish.
If sin exists, then only God knows its definition, since it is defined with respect to his desires and preferences, and only He knows those. Hence, we cannot specify what constitutes sin, and we cannot specify the consequence of sinning (Hell? Gehenna? Reincarnation? Rebirth? Karma?). So the concept of sin is left unspecified. This is operationally appropriate, since the Church is not in the business of punishing sinners. It is interested in helping develop individuals of sound body, mind and spirit. The issue of sin and its punishment is between the individual and God. It is not relevant to the Church’s mission of saving the biosphere, and it is not relevant to the Church’s mission of helping to develop individuals physically, mentally, emotionally, culturally, and spiritually.
Many religions and churches define what constitutes sin and under what conditions you are forgiven or punished. They are quite different, ranging from no sin (Unitarian) to Jesus died for your sins and they will be forgiven if you simply acknowledge him as your person savior (most of Christianity), and many others. There are several possibilities – only one of them is right, or none of them is right, or some of them are right, or all of them are right (i.e., it simply doesn’t matter). The second possibility (none is right) is most appealing to a church of natural theology: why would the rules for human beings suddenly change in the last few thousand years, from what they were for the billions who lived prior to recent history? Why would a cave man (who existed before Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammed, and hence had no access to “the means of grace”) be treated any different from a man today who has read about Jesus? In any event, the matter of sin is between you and God; it is not a concern of the Church.
What about Hell? In spite of the fact that it is not relevant given the stance on sin, can some comments be made about it? Under the concept of an omnipotent God and free will, everything is God’s will. His will must be followed; the alternative is impossible. Sin, in the sense of going against God’s will, cannot exist. There is no place for “Commandments.” Sin, in the sense of going against God’s (unknown) preferences, is possible. If God is in some sense displeased with your being or soul (which is difficult to fathom, inasmuch as, by definition of God, He created them, and being all-powerful, would create them exactly as He wished), He can simply cause it to cease to exist. Hell, Purgatory, or other schemes designed to punish beings who are given free will and desire, make little sense under an omnipotent God. To create a being, give it desires and free will, and then punish it for exercising that desire and free will is too perverse to warrant consideration. To accept this is to accept the notion of a god who delights in pain and suffering for its own sake, as an end, and not as a catalyst or necessary prerequisite for interesting life. While this type of behavior may suit a "local" god or spirit, it is hardly becoming the unitary God of the universe. Anything is possible, but the concept of a theological Hell makes no sense.
Some of the paradigms of Eastern religions (reincarnation or rebirth of souls, to allow them to progress until they “get it right”) make more sense. If there is no Hell, is there no Heaven? The traditional concept of a place where there are no troubles, but we retain our own personalities, makes no sense – without challenge, it would be as boring as Hell for human personalities. Just as there is no Hell for punishing, there is no Heaven for reward. It would appear reasonable (given the evolutionary nature of the universe) that we are all progressing to the same end, or stage of development. Who knows what is in store? Peace? A return to God? Dissolution? A concept of Heaven as a final stage of development might appeal to some, but the universe appears to be in a constant state of change. It would appear more consistent with nature that life in the universe continues forever, always changing, always evolving, always progressing. Is there an end? Perhaps not. Since our universe had a beginning (the Big Bang), it would be natural (by symmetry) that it has an end (e.g., heat death, collapse). Perhaps getting there is not half the fun – perhaps it is all the fun! As you may have guessed, I don’t have strong feelings on the concept of Heaven.
If you break man’s (society’s, government’s) law, you will be punished by man. You cannot break God’s law, since his “laws” are the laws of the universe. They are always obeyed. Although you may act counter to God’s preferences, those preferences are unknown, and the consequences of that are between you and God. If you break laws of common sense, you will pay. If you commit adultery, you may lose your wife (you may lose her, anyway) or get shot. If you sleep around, you may get AIDS (you may get it anyway). If you fly in airplanes you may die in an airplane crash. If you go to war you may get killed. If you drive in a car you may be injured in an auto accident. If you fall in love you may get jilted and hurt. If you remain faithful to your spouse, you will never know the thrill of illicit sex – but you will have the satisfaction of fidelity. If you engage in risky behavior, your odds of getting hurt increase. But so does the opportunity for an exciting, meaningful life. If you do not take a chance on love, you may never realize the joy of having a spouse and children.
On Drugs. “Drugs” includes all addictive and mind-altering substances (drugs, foods, beverages, etc.), including mind-altering drugs (such as heroine, cocaine, peyote, mescaline and synthetic psychedelic drugs), alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, cola nuts, refined sugar, chocolate, caffeine, stimulants, depressants and the like. The Church encourages a healthful lifestyle of eating, drinking, exercise (work and recreation) and rest. While consumption of moderate amounts of relatively harmless beverages such as tea is of little concern, abuse of alcohol and use of other mind-altering or addictive drugs is counterproductive, wasteful, self-destructive, and inconsistent with the mission of the Church and the development of the individual.
On Natural Medicine. The Church encourages the use of natural medicine, in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle (good nutrition, digestion, exercise (work and recreation) and rest. Mental and physical regimens such as meditation and yoga are recommended (in moderation). Fasting in moderation is fine. Moderate or occasional use of medicines and medical practitioners is fine. Rejection of modern medical treatment is also fine, as a personal choice, but parents should seek to alleviate pain and sickness in their children by any reasonable means available, and not hold them to extreme measures adopted by the parents (you may be wrong!). Going to extreme lengths to prolong life is unnatural and wasteful, and is viewed as evidence of a lack of perspective and healthy view of nature. The courage of Christian Scientists is admired, but it is not necessary to adopt the viewpoint that all medical treatment is to be eschewed. They view, reasonably, that death is not the ultimate horror, to be avoided at all cost. We are all going to die, anyway. It is reasonable to avoid pain and nausea, and nature has provided us with the coca and poppy and hemp and willow plants and countless other herbs to accomplish this.
On Agriculture. Agriculture will be needed to support the population of the industrial City of five million. For the remainder of the planet, hunting-gathering is more beneficial for human development and the planet’s ecology. While small-scale (“natural”, organic) agriculture on a small scale (individual, family or small village) may be acceptable, agriculture on a large scale leads to economic stratification, poverty, disease, slavery, generation of a surplus and wealth, economic development, environmental degradation and species extinction, development of cities, city-states and civilizations, and ultimately, to the development of a high-population industrial society and environmental destruction. Except for the single City-state, large-scale agriculture is proscribed.
On Politics, and Separation of Church and State. Since religion represents an hypothesis about the nature of the universe (and in particular about God and man’s relationship to God), it may be argued that it is all-important. This can lead to the supposition that religion should guide and control every aspect of our lives, including government. The problem with this point of view is that it cannot be proved that any particular religion represents the whole truth, or that even if it did, it should be used as a basis for government. Religion should not consume a person’s life. We were not created to sit in a trance all day long meditating on the nature of God. (Some people may choose to do this, but we certainly all cannot!) Some religions claim authority through revelations (e.g., a vision from God, a visit from an angel, etc.). The problem with this is that it is not possible to distinguish revelation from imagination, either for the person receiving the revelation or for others. The axioms (postulates, article of faith) of a religion are easier to accept when they can be considered by everyone, not just a single person who claims to have received a message from God.
In view of the fact that no religion can be proved true, it is reasonable not to impose it (by force) on all people. The fundamental purpose of religion is to provide a conceptual framework for viewing the position and purpose of man in the universe – there is no need for it to be the basis for every human activity, such as government, or homemaking, or fishing, or agriculture, or bow-making, or anything else. Religion is an aspect of philosophy, and philosophy is but one aspect of life. As Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar….” With respect to religion, the form of government is irrelevant. Whether one is a soldier or politician or a farmer or a janitor is irrelevant. Whether one is a slave or master is irrelevant. We all have work to do and lives to lead.
It is not the purpose of life to sit in a meditative trance and worship God. As Jesus noted, “I am here that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.” Life is to be lived, enjoyed, and appreciated. Strive for varieties of experience. “The medium is the message” – it is the process, not the end, that is most important. In an ultimate sense, there are no ends, only means. Nothing is permanent – this solar system is gone in a few billion years no matter what we do. What is important is how you relate to other people and the events in your life, not what those particular people or events are.
To a large degree, each of us can create his own role in life. Shakespeare was right on the mark when he observed that life is a stage and we are actors in life’s play.
Some religions recognize the need for and appropriateness of separation of Church and state, and some do not. No nation can adopt Christianity, for example, as a basis for government. Governments impose rules and mete out punishments when those rules are broken – it is not possible for a government to “turn the other cheek” and exist. Jesus recognized this when he observed, “Render unto Caesar….” If he were specifying a religion for a state, it would be similar to Judaism or Islam, with commandments and punishments prescribed, not based on the Golden Rule and “love one another as yourself.”
A government may recognize the worth of a religion, and encourage its adoption by its citizens. The United States of America, for example, was founded by Christians and was recognized as a “Christian” nation by its founders (i.e., a nation comprised of Christians, not a nation that has adopted Christianity as its modus operandi). Capitalist nations are favorably inclined toward Christianity, because it explicitly recognizes that it must be separate from the state, and that the state encompasses separate and legitimate functions. A state that recognizes and encourages a religion may use the religion as a basis for determining its legal code. Few generals or parents would want to send a son to war without a religion.
The Church recognizes the role of government in human affairs, whether at the level of the family, the local unit, the village, the province, or the nation. The Church and the state address different, although overlapping, domains of human activity. The Church is concerned with the metaphysical; government is concerned with practical day-to-day operational aspects of living in the physical world.
Does this mean that the Church must restrict its concerns to the spiritual domain, eschewing the physical domain? Not at all. If the nations of the world are destroying it, every person and organization, including the Church, may legitimately work to save it. In previous times, when mankind’s activities and numbers did not threaten to destroy the planet, it was easier to operate under a doctrine of separation of church and state. Now that all of the world’s governments are committed to more industrialization, and hence more destruction of the environment, it would be morally reprehensible for the Church to stand idly by. Even a church that views its mission as saving souls should be concerned – with a destroyed biosphere, there will be no souls left to save!
On the Environment. The established religions of the world have relatively little to say about the environment, other than that it is legitimately under mankind’s control. The potential for mankind to destroy the planet’s biosphere was not recognized when the authors of the Bible were alive. The Koran states that those who destroy the Earth shall be destroyed. There is no mandate to preserve the biosphere – mankind is evidently free to destroy it and himself. If mankind has free will, however, attempting to save the planet’s biodiversity is certainly a legitimate area of human endeavor, and of greater significance and importance than any other goal that mankind has ever sought to achieve.
On the Accumulation of Material Wealth. So much motivational material is directed toward the accumulation of material wealth that some comments are in order on this topic. The generation of material wealth is the primary purpose of industrialization. Combined with the large number of human beings on the planet, it is causing the destruction of nature (i.e., massive extinction, loss of biodiversity, possible death of the biosphere). It alone is not the entire problem. With sufficient people on the planet, biodiversity would still be significantly impacted, even if all were poor. Mankind is evidently responsible for the death of the large mammals (mammoths, etc.) some time ago, without the help of modern technology. In any event, the planet can survive with a high level of wealth for only a very small population.
Note that concentrations of wealth can be very useful, as well as very harmful (depending on scale). Without the surplus resulting from agriculture and industry, and the accumulation of and concentration of wealth in cities, there would be no science, no classical music, no chess. Science and technology are, of course, a mixed blessing, for without them there would also be no nuclear war.
So the generation of wealth on a large scale is destructive to the planet’s biodiversity. But what about accumulation of wealth when human society is sufficiently small that the generation of wealth does not harm the planet in any significant fashion? We have already discussed the concept of “sin,” and rejected it. The accumulation of wealth, or the engagement in any other form of human activity, is never sinful. It may cause hurt to others, and it may cause hurt to you, and it may hurt the biosphere, but it is not a “sin.”
If you want to generate wealth, or to engage in any other activity (mathematics, exploration, medicine, music, race-car driving, farming, writing, war, genocide, mission work, sex, marriage, drug abuse, suicide), meditate on it, pray about it, discuss it with people you respect, and then go ahead and do it or don’t do it. That is what the purpose of life is – to have a varied, interesting, fulfilling experience. The accumulation of wealth, like war, is an exciting game. Apart from the destructive effects of large-scale wealth, it may still be asked whether there is anything intrinsically wrong with the accumulation of material wealth. For example, is it destructive to your character, in a class with taking hard drugs?
In a sense, there is, or there may be. If you engage in an activity such as mountain climbing, music, mathematics, or medicine, it is essentially the process that is the reward (we assume that, e.g., the mathematician is doing mathematics for the joy of mathematics and not to gloat on the size of his list of publications). But with wealth, the situation is somewhat different. There is the process of accumulating wealth, but there is also the result (physical product) of the process, which is the wealth itself. Keep it in perspective. View that the goal is in the accumulation of wealth, or in the enjoyment of being wealthy and doing what you can with the freedom that it brings, but not the wealth itself. Detach yourself from the wealth. In order to achieve inner peace, satisfaction, and happiness, it seems necessary to be, to a considerable degree, “self-referent.” If a person is “object-referent,” or “ego-referent,” it appears that the goal will never be achieved. A person seeking riches or power for their own sake will never be satisfied. No amount will ever be enough. He becomes addicted to the accumulation of wealth. He will never be satisfied.
Andrew Carnegie, once the world’s richest man, understood this. After a lifetime of accumulating wealth, he gave it all away. His motto was “My heart is in the work” (I happen to know this since I attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology – free, thanks to the generosity of Carnegie and General Motors). Carnegie knew that the wealth itself was not the goal. During his productive lifetime, he relished in the game of accumulating the world’s largest fortune. But as he neared the end of his life, he proceeded to make plans to give it all away. As a boy, in Spartanburg, SC, I borrowed books from a Carnegie Library, one of many that he established. The Carnegie Foundation continues to do philanthropic work today. No matter how wealthy you become, you are still going to leave this life (as Zig Ziegler once noted) with the same amount as Howard Hughes – nothing. So keep it in perspective. It is not money that is the root of all evil, it is the love of money. View the money simply as a means of keeping score. Use it to do good. Keep it in perspective.
It is often asked, “If he’s so smart, then why isn’t he rich?” One reason is that there are not very many really rich people. It is a competitive game in which only few can be winners. If everyone has the same amount, no one is rich, in a relative sense. Another reason is that “smart” people tend to be self-referent. They tend to know who they are and what they want, and it isn’t the world of business. They are not willing to commit their lives to a goal (accumulation of wealth) that means little to them. A person who possesses a great talent, such as a Plato, Euclid, Newton, Galileo, daVinci, Mozart, Edison, or Einstein, will focus on his special talent. It does not require great genius to accumulate wealth, although some people, such as Carnegie, Rockefeller, Morgan, Chase, Hughes, Getty, Gates, Buffett and Soros have an exceptional talent for it. There is a rather sure-fire method for accumulating it (see Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, commissioned by Carnegie) – desire/motivation, faith, autosuggestion/visualization, knowledge, imagination, planning, decision, and persistence. In the context of today’s industrial world (economic growth), any person of average intelligence and drive can accumulate material wealth. All it really takes is the commitment, a dedication to this goal. Are you really willing to dedicate your life to the accumulation of material wealth? Are you interested in the game or in the money – if it is the money, then you will never be satisfied, for no amount is ever enough (but you may never be satisfied, in any event). Know thyself. This above all: To thine own self be true.
But if the accumulation of material wealth is your goal, what have you committed, or dedicated, your life to? As noted, we will all leave this life with the same amount as Howard Hughes – nothing! Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the gates of Heaven.” Why? Perhaps because the rich man is seeking riches, not the development of his soul. Perhaps because he cannot detach himself from his wealth, and has made it his god. Perhaps because it is just as difficult for anyone to enter the gates of Heaven. Perhaps because there is no Heaven.
If you follow his ways, Jesus said that the world will despise you. Riches are the way of the world. They (the physical product) are not the path to satisfaction, although they may be used for good. They may happen – if you set out to develop a new computer operating system, or a new news service, or a new system of martial arts, the world may beat a path to your door and reward you with material possessions and a comfortable life. But to achieve happiness you must detach yourself from a primary interest in material objects. Material wealth is not the solution to life’s problems. Material wealth is destroying the planet. Despite what the UN and World Bank may tell you about the elimination of poverty, the creation of material wealth, on a grand scale, is the problem, not the solution.
One final observation on self-reference. Do not carry it to an extreme. Emotional attachments and reactions are perfectly normal. If you cut yourself or burn yourself, you experience pain – that is nature’s way of prompting you to avoid danger. If someone steals your property or your spouse, you should feel badly about it, and take appropriate action. That is also nature’s way of ensuring your survival. If you lose a spouse or a child, you should be shocked, and hurt, and grieve, and take time for these wounds to heal. If someone attempts to harm you, defend yourself. We are human beings, and it is absurd to carry self-reference to the point where nothing matters. Emotions are part of life’s experience, and they are good. So if you make a fortune and lose it, you should feel badly. If someone steals a week’s pay from a day laborer, it is normal to feel disappointment and anger. But keep it in perspective, and look to the future. Know that life is for the living, and that these things shall pass, and get on with it. Take advantage of your emotions to survive and live and progress. Realize that anger is a legitimate response to being wronged, but do not allow feelings of hatred destroy yourself. The object of your hatred may not even realize that you exist.
On Psychic Activity. Meditation can lead to spiritual encounters. Unfortunately, the individual cannot distinguish between messages from God, from other spirits, or from his own mind. Advice from spirits (whether they are viewed as internal to or external to your own mind) can be totally wrong. Be very wary. Extreme caution is recommended. Focus primarily on your conscious life; do not become addicted to meditation. Use meditation as a tool for relaxation and clarification, not as an addictive focus of your life. Rely on yourself, not on devices (e.g., Ouija boards, tarot cards, automatic handwriting, hypnotism) or others with reputed special psychic abilities (shamans, mediums, channelers, prophets). Do not trust a message from a spiritual encounter or a medium any more than you would from any other person or from a dream. Talk to people you trust before acting on strange advice. Pray to God for guidance and protection prior to any meditative activity.
On Sects. The Christian religion has splintered into a very large number of sects. Islam, too, has fragmented into sects, as has Buddhism. The presence of many sects detracts significantly from a religion. It suggests that the basic theology is not “robust,” and must be continually modified – it is similar to a scientific theory that has many modifications or “fixes.” It also leads to much confusion, strife (arguing among the sects) and wasted energy. It is probably unavoidable for any religion based on revelation or the adoption of theology lacking external or internal consistency, or even much detailed dogma. The Church of Nature attempts to avoid this fractionation by adopting a theology that is very simple and self-evident (i.e., a high degree of face validity). It has a mission that needs the concerted energies of all men of good will, and wishes to waste none of the energies of its members on arguments that do little to reveal the nature of God or advance its mission.
Are Some Religions Better than Others? How Do You Choose? The articles of faith proposed by religions are items that cannot be explained naturally (i.e., as part of the observable physical universe and its known laws). As a result, the validity (truth) of religions cannot be empirically verified. Someone trying to determine which religion to adopt may compare them with respect to various criteria, such as overall appeal, duration, humanity, relevance to various goals, compatibility with capitalism, and the like. Which one is “better” for you depends on your value system.
For most of human history, people had little choice in their religion – their religion was that of their family or tribe. Even in today’s world, most people simply accept the religion into which they were born and raised. Today, however, many people have a choice, and are obviously not very interested in any religion, either the one into which they were born or any other. They may profess belief in God, but are still not drawn to organized religion, or even unorganized religions. It is somewhat easy to understand why interest in organized religion is low. It has a rather sorry history (e.g., murder of unbelievers or apostates or scientists), arbitrary tenets of faith (e.g., revelation), internally inconsistent theology (e.g., the Bible, if represented as infallible), requirement to accept that certain supernatural events happened a long time ago (Virgin Birth / Immaculate Conception, miracles, Resurrection), rigid ideology (e.g., five pillars of Islam), failure of the religion to deliver (“ask and you shall receive,” but you asked God to spare the life of your wife, dying of cancer, and nothing happened) or the feeling, on meditation, that the religion just doesn’t make much sense (Original Sin, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, Infallibility of the Bible or Pope, necessity to accept Jesus as God or face eternal damnation; necessity for a priest intermediary between you and God). It is difficult to choose a religion on the basis of the articles of faith, since by definition they cannot be verified. It is basically a matter of personal preference – the individual feels comfortable with the theology and mission of the church and chooses to be a part of the mission.
On the Nature of God. The Church of Nature is a unitary religion. It proposes as an article of faith a singular God-concept. But what is the nature of God? Is God everything and everywhere and eternal and infinite? Is God is existence and the reason for existence? If God is everywhere, then did God create himself? Or is He external to the created physical (observable) universe? God is very much an undefined concept. Is He unseen, or is He is everywhere, the product of his creation, in which case He is seen everywhere at every instant? We may never know the answers to these and other similar questions about the nature of God – they may be unanswerable by beings resident in the observable universe.
Science can help us to know the nature of God, but it is concerned only with how things happen. It does not provide the faintest clue as to why. God is the reason why. By providing logical, structured descriptions of how things happen, science does provide some insight into the nature of God, but it is very limited.
All that we can observe or infer from our senses is our physical (observable) universe, in which we exist and which we observe (sense). There may be a countless number of other physical universes similar to ours, defined by the same or different physical constants, or there may be an infinite number of universes “parallel” to our own. All of these possible other universes (the “multiverse”) would be included in a singular God-concept, and while they may be of interest to physicists/cosmologists, they are somewhat irrelevant to the mission of the Church. The Church’s domain of interest is the planet Earth and the Solar System in which it resides.
What makes the difference between 90 kg of carbon, calcium, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and traces of other elements sitting on a shelf in a chemistry lab and a 90 kg human being? God makes the difference. But is the life force present in the human being and not in the separate collection of elements? Mankind may never know, but the answer makes little difference in the lives of human beings and the mission of the Church. It has no operational relevance, relative to the basic mission of the Church. It therefore has little interest in investing effort in speculation about issues that are of no direct concern to it, its members, or the immediate survival of the biodiversity of the planet’s biosphere.
God has been called by many names – Allah, Life Force, Supreme Being, Creator, Universal Intelligence, Great Spirit, and the like. Most of these names are not very helpful, because they are unduly restrictive. Consider, for example, the name Creator. It emphasizes a God who created the universe (and is useful when emphasizing that aspect of God). But who created the Creator? In addition to an "Originator," is there also an Operator and a Terminator? Are they the same? Did the Creator cease to exist upon the “Big Bang” that initiated our universe, and the Operator take over? Does He exist outside of it? Is He inside it to enjoy our physical experiences? The name God (or other neutral name) does not refer to powers or aspects or events, and is therefore more useful (causes fewer problems). The Church is concerned with its mission here and now on Earth, not with arguing (or speculating) about the nature of God. It may very well be that his nature may never be well understood by man.
On Good and Evil. Why does evil exist? (The term “evil” is used to refer to unpleasant events, such as a person’s dying of cancer or a child being run over by a truck; it is not intended to refer to some metaphysical concept.) Perhaps to give meaning and purpose to life. Without evil, everything would be good, no significant struggles would exist, and life would be unchallenging and unbearably boring. Conquering disease, fixing severed spinal cords, stopping Hitler, stopping AIDS, stopping the destruction of the planet within 50 years – those are significant problems. A mathematician may find ecstasy in constructing a new mathematical system, but most human beings need more tangible challenges. Without evil, life would not be challenging. Without matters of life and death, life would lose its meaning. Evil is necessary. If it did not exist, God would surely have created it.
On Revelation. The problem with revelation as a means of validating a religion is that it is impossible, either for the person to whom the revelation is being made or to others, to know if it is from God. People can have profound spiritual experiences using hallucinogenic drugs (cannabis, mescaline, peyote, LSD). Simply stating that a church’s founder has had a revelation from God does nothing to establish the validity of the church’s theology. Through meditation, many individuals may experience revelation. The issue of whether the revelations are autogenerated or from God cannot be resolved. In a sense, since God is omnipotent, all revelations are (stem ultimately) from God. But that does not mean that they are necessarily true. A person can have bad ideas as well as good ones, dreams that come true as well as those that do not. It appears that spiritual experiences caused by drugs rarely have a lasting impact on a person’s life. It is a fact that most art generated by persons under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs is juvenile. On the other hand, Dr. Kary Mullis used LSD and subsequently won a Nobel Prize for discovering the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method for replicating DNA.
The validity of the Church’s theology cannot be established. The perceived worth of it vision is a value judgment. Perhaps Earth’s biodiversity should be destroyed, to create a harsh, sterile, monotonous prison-world for man for the next four billion years, not as punishment for his not caring to protect it, but as a better (more interesting? more exciting? more challenging?) environment for his continued existence, or for finding out what the meaning of life is – living in a Garden-of-Eden paradise surely didn’t help very much! You may choose to accept or reject either the Church or its mission. We hope that you will accept both – you, and the Church, and humanity, and all other life on the planet, stand to benefit from your participation.
In a revelation (vision) you have no way of knowing whether the vision is directly from God, or some itinerant or errant spirit, or a product of your own imagination. If revelation was caused by a hallucinogenic drug, you may reasonably assume that it was not directly from God. If it was caused by hypnosis or meditation, how do you know? Even if it is a miraculous revelation, such as being struck like Saul on the road to Damascus, what does it prove? If the definition of God is all-inclusive, then all visions/revelations stem from God, whether true or not. In view of the inability to ascribe any validity to revelation – either to you or to others – it is not a very satisfying basis on which to establish or choose a religion. How you feel about it is probably the best basis. Think about it, meditate on it (“ponder it in your heart”), and decide. If you feel very uncomfortable about some aspect of the religion (e.g., articles of faith, such as Trinity, Virgin Birth, Immaculate Conception, Resurrection, miracles, demanding rituals (e.g., human or animal sacrifice) or obligations (prayer, tithing, pilgrimage), holy scriptures, icons, church hierarchy, creeds, rituals, no God, many gods, spirits, no spirits, Heaven, Hell, the Devil), then that religion is not for you. How can you contribute effectively to something that you do not really believe in, or even find unfounded, silly, or ridiculous? How can you ask your children to believe, when you do not? How can you be willing to die for your religion, if you do not accept the articles of faith? This above all, to thine own self be true! Learn to be self-referent. Decide for yourself about what is right, and then just do it!
On the Soul. Do you have a soul? An individual (unique, distinct) soul? Will you retain our identity/personality after your death? What happens to your soul when you die? Is there a Hell? Do souls reincarnate? What is sin? Are you punished for your sins? The Church does not know the answers to these questions any more than any other religion or church. All we know for sure is what we observe here on Earth at the present time, and the realm of religious theology is to a large degree outside of the realm of observation. It has positions/opinions on some of them (e.g., on sin, discussed earlier). Whatever the answers to these questions, however, the Church offers you the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in your present life.
If you do have an individual soul, its development is mainly up to you and to God. The Church can, with your help, generate an enabling environment in which you can develop. This writer believes that you do, and that it will continue, but that is just a matter of desire and belief – the common yearning for survival or immortality that all human beings crave.
The universe continues, pretty much as before, as people, plants, and animals die all around us on a daily basis. Would you live your life differently depending on whether you knew that your soul lived on, whether you would get to / have to live another life, whether you would experience results from your actions in your present life (karma), or whether you believed that there was a Heaven or a Hell? What is sin? Are the wages of sin death?
The Church does not include answers to all of these questions in its articles of faith. Furthermore, you do not need answers to these questions to benefit from your participation in the Church and its mission. What really distinguishes the Church of Nature from others is its mission. Its theology is somewhat different from some, very different from some, and somewhat similar to others.
On Reincarnation, Rebirth, and Spiritual Revelation. The universe goes on and on. We see individual people and animals and plants die, but life goes on. This raises many questions. Do you continue to exist in some form as a distinct, unique personality, i.e., as a well-defined soul? Does your soul continue to exist after death? Do some souls continue and others cease to exist? If it continues, where does it go? Are you reborn? Are you reincarnated? On Earth? On planets in other solar systems? Do some people have revelations from God? Do all people have revelations from God? How can we tell if we do, i.e., how can we distinguish a revelation from a hallucination or an idea or a logical deduction or inference? What is the purpose of life? Do I have a mission in life? What is it? Do I specify it? Was Jesus a physical man, like me, or something different? Do we have free will? Are we able to live an infinite variety of lives in an endless number of parallel universes? What difference does belief in God make? If we do assert this, what should we do in this life? These are just some of the metaphysical questions that we all have, and that most of us never find answers to. Some of us are to busy living life to spend much time on these questions. Some of us try to answer them, and fail. Some of us believe that we learn answers to some of the questions.
The Church of Nature cannot answer these questions for you, but it can help you find your own answers. The Church has a mission. It will accomplish that mission with the help of many people, and it will help those many people in accomplishing their personal missions. The Church will not waste time trying to defend its theology or arguing against the theology of other religions. If you have your own personal mission, that is great. If you are not sure about what mission in life is worthwhile, give some thought to the Church’s mission and consider making it part of your own.
On Jesus and the Golden Rule. Jesus was not the first to promote the Golden Rule. There were others, of other religions, before him, who also did. The concept became widespread from him (and the work of Paul), however, and is now embraced by millions of people, and so he is most closely associated with it. (Analogously, Columbus was certainly not the first to discover the Western Hemisphere, but it “opened up” to Europe after his discovery, and so its discovery is associated most closely with him.)
On Jesus the Man. Was Jesus endowed with supernatural powers? Who knows? Recent academic research suggests that he was not other than an ordinary man (Barbara Thiering, Jesus the Man). The many references to Jesus in this writing are not intended to deify him, but simply to use the man as a representation of his ideals (Golden Rule, love thy neighbor as thyself, render unto Caesar, etc.).
With respect to the special status of Jesus, the Church’s position is rather like that presented in Thomas Jefferson’s version of the New Testament (The Jefferson Bible: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, by Thomas Jefferson, Introduction by Forrest Church, Afterword by Jaroslav Pelikan, Beacon Press, Boston, 1904, 1989, ISBN 0-8070-7714-3). This is the Bible presented to each new US Senator upon his taking office. Jefferson did not have much use for the writings of Paul in the New Testament, and selected out (from Greek, Latin, French and English texts) the portions of the first four Gospels that in his view best reflected Jesus’ morality. It is essentially a version of the Bible that does not contain the “magic,” or miracles – just the ideals and morality.
In this context, what did Jesus mean when he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)? In light of the speculation that Jesus spent his “missing years” in India, a reasonable interpretation of this passage is that no human spirit returns to God until it has done what Jesus was doing: taking on human form, living a human life, helping others, suffering life’s trials – in essence, learning, over the course of many lives, to lead a Christly life. Spirits that do not incarnate, as Jesus did, do not progress in development of their souls.
On the Deification of Jesus, and the Trinity. Many paradigms have been adopted by religions, from no God, to one God, to many gods and spirits, unitary, dual, and trinitarian. The trinitarian form is currently popular in the Christian church (three manifestations of God – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). The Church of Nature proposes, as a church of natural theology, a very simple model of God, similar to that adopted my many Unitarian churches. It does not preclude the existence of spirits. It sees no purpose in complicating the concept of God with duality (good/evil, observed/unobserved, physical/spiritual, yin/yang, etc.), or trinity (also defined many ways), or other plurality.
The acceptance of a theology of a unitary God-concept does not preclude the existence of other spiritual beings, or lesser gods. The Jewish Torah addresses this possibility with the dictum, “Thou shall have no other gods before me,” implying that if lesser gods exist, they are not to be placed in a position of regard ahead of God. The passage “Let us make man in our image...” clearly signifies a plurality of deities. The Bible (Old and New Testaments) is replete with references to supernatural beings and spirits. The Koran refers to djinn (jinn). All of these entities may be viewed simply as manifestations of a complete, unitary universe.
Modern Christianity appears in many instances to deify Jesus. The concept of the Trinity (God as three entities, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) was introduced by the Catholic Church (Emperor Constantine) at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. It is never mentioned in the Bible. This (merging Jesus with God) was done by Constantine to alter the position that Jesus was the Messiah (messenger), and represent that he (Constantine) was in fact the Messiah. (See Laurence Gardner, Bloodline of the Holy Grail, for more discussion on the history of the introduction of the dogma of Trinity into Christianity.)
The Catholic Church has contributed to the deification of Jesus via its introduction of the dogma of the Trinity. This is an irrelevant semantic distinction from the viewpoint of a unitary concept of God.
Many modern Christian sects deify Jesus. They pray to him and worship him rather than God; they also pray to his mother, Mary. They ask for help in his name, and bless things in his name. They have replaced the concept of Jesus as a Christ, or Messiah, or Messenger, with a concept in which he is in essence God. Without addressing the issue of whether Jesus was endowed with supernatural abilities, the Church recognizes the importance of Jesus’ teachings (the Golden Rule, love others as yourself). It recognizes that he is part of creation, as are Abraham, Moses, Mohammed, Buddha, and all of us. Whether he was an ordinary man or a supernatural being cannot be determined at this point in time, but neither is it necessary. It neither augments nor diminishes the truth or intrinsic worth of his basic teachings. To imply that the worth of his teachings depends on the level of his supernatural powers is analogous to an “ad hominum” response to an argument – attacking the man or his reputation, rather than the idea. The ideas should stand or fall on their own merit. It is a waste of time to argue over whether Jesus said or did not say a particular thing or whether someone else did. It simply doesn’t matter – all that matters is the concept, the idea. It does not matter whether Shakespeare wrote the Shakespearean plays or someone else did (e.g., Bacon). The worth of the plays is exactly the same, regardless of who wrote them.
From the viewpoint of natural theology, the theology of the Church of Nature should make as much sense to someone who has never heard of Jesus as to someone who has. It should make as much sense to a cave dweller as a modern man.
On the Anthropomorphization of God. There is a tremendous yearning in people to love and to be loved, and there is hence a tremendous human desire to personalize (anthropomorphize) God. This has been done by many religions/cultures (Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Christians). Many Christian churches have made Jesus the man-God an object of their affection, and emphasize his personal love for man.
There are several very important aspects to man’s life on Earth, including love (spiritual and physical), war, hunting, fishing, farming, music and dance, eating, and science (knowledge, understanding). Past cultures often assigned particular gods to these very important aspects of human existence, such as Venus/Aphrodite, goddess of love, and Mars/Ares, god of war. It is certainly easier for a soldier to pray to a personalized god of war, such as Mars, than to an abstract God, representing all of nature. He can relate to it easier. By personalizing God as Mars, he finds it easier to imagine that Mars relates to his life and challenges as a soldier, than an abstract “life force” or “creator” or “universal intelligence,” who may not have the least interest in such an insignificant creature as a common soldier on a small planet. Personalizing Jesus is the same. He can be visualized as a man. It is easier to love him and to understand his loving you (a very human emotion), than to love a “life force” or imagine a “life force” loving you.
None of this is of any importance to the Church of Nature. Each individual may commune with God, or relate to God, in his own way.
On Mankind’s Destiny. The Solar System and planet Earth will not last another five billion years, and the human race will likely not endure but a fraction of that time. If the “sixth” extinction is now under way, it would appear that we will not last another hundred million years or so (since mass extinctions appear to occur rather regularly). Cockroaches and other primitive species last for hundreds of millions of years, but advanced species appear to evolve rapidly and not last for a long time (“early ripe, early rot”, one might say). Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons lasted only a few tens of thousands of years. Extrapolating from the past, our time may not be long. If industrialization succeeds in destroying the biosphere and the sixth extinction completes, we will not last another 50 years.
Does mankind have a destiny to fulfill? Does it all really have to end in 50 years? That is what is happening, unless mankind moves to change its ways. Does mankind have a degree of control over his destiny? Why not change it, or at least try to change it? Is this all there is? Mankind has not even figured out what the meaning of life is. Was there no point to it?
The Church of Nature is committed to effecting a change, and to stopping the destruction of nature. If it succeeds, mankind and the rest of Earth’s ecology can last for thousands or millions of years longer. If it fails, mankind and the rest of the planet’s ecology seems doomed to extinction very soon.
If you do choose to join the Church and participate in its mission, you will add meaning and significance to your life. By the way, if you do choose to join the Church, you must participate in its mission. Note that its mission is not just stopping the destruction of nature, but also creating an enabling environment for people to develop physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and culturally. Under the Church’s mission, its destiny, your destiny, and the destiny of the rest of the planet’s ecology are all tied together.
On Symbols and Ceremony. The Church uses no special symbols, logos, or icons, and has no particular religious text. It looks for truth and insight in all literature and knowledge. It recognizes the help and insight available from religious and secular works. It recognizes all of history and current existence as a manifestation of God, with no special religious significance given to any persons or events. In a sense, nothing is uniquely sacred, but everything is sacred. All flows from God. While no human beings are venerated as uniquely holy (or all are), their ideals may be recognized as of particular worth. It is the ideas expressed by Jesus that are of significance, not the physical man. It is the lessons and concepts and history that are of significance in the Bible and other religious texts, not the particular words or books.
Does this mean that the use of symbols, such as the cross, the crescent, or the flaming chalice are in some sense “wrong”? Not at all. Symbols viewed as reminders of important concepts play an important role in human society. It is right that a young child should respect his country’s flag and what it stands for. It is important to realize, however, that the symbol is nothing more than an abbreviated “shorthand” for the concept, and that it is the concept that is important. The Church of Nature adopts no special symbols, however, for several reasons. First, someday the world’s governments will turn against it, and it is well that there be no physical indications of its presence. Second, no symbol is worth dying for, and no symbol is worth killing for. It is the concept that matters, not a physical representation. People have an inclination to ascribe magical powers to symbols, such as the cross. This is not necessary. It is certainly true that symbols can be used as tools to rally people, such as in the case of the cross (e.g., Prince Vlad, “In hoc signum vinces” – in this sign you conquer, or a military platoon charging up San Juan Hill or celebrating victory in Iwo Jima with the American flag).
What about ceremony? Ceremony is symbolism in action. Ceremonies are important because the events that they represent, such as the investiture of a country’s president, are important. The Church adopts no special order of “worship,” mainly because there is nothing to “worship.” It has no special ceremony such as Holy Communion (the Eucharist). For important human events such as births, deaths, marriages, coming of age, and other “rites of passage,” local units may adopt whatever ceremonies they choose, such as prevailing cultural ceremonies or “nondenominational” ceremonies such as those of the Unitarian Church (http://www.unitarian.org.uk/unitprop.htm).
What is Worth Dying For? It is often said that something is only really worth doing if it is worth dying for. That may be true, but it has also been said that something only really matters if it is worth killing for (e.g., the white farmers of Southern Rhodesia decided that their farms were not worth killing for a couple of decades ago, and Robert Mugabe has decided that they are worth killing for; hence they now go to Mugabe – the fact that the current white farmers are willing to die for them is not very significant). Young men being sent into battle must decide if their loved ones are worth dying for, or worth killing for. It is hard to die, and, for religious people, it may be hard to kill. Is your family worth dying for? Is your family worth killing for? Is your religion worth dying for? Is your religion worth killing for? The Church has taken a stand that it will put itself in harm’s way by the industrial world. It has thrown down the gauntlet. Alia est jacta! – the die is cast! Initially, the battle will be of ideas and words, but someday the killing and the dying will begin. The military-industrial complex will not hesitate for a moment to kill to preserve their system – that is their very business! Deciding to join forces with the Church of Nature should not be taken lightly. On the surface, it may appear that its theology is so simple (natural theology) and its mission is so noble (save the planet) that no one could get into much trouble over it. Some day, however, it will be necessary to “drive a stake in the ground and take a stand.” Think about it. Feel in your heart that it is right, and then go ahead. Ultimately, we all commit our lives to something. Which side will you choose? Will you take pride in having given your life in a worthy cause, or to have given your life for nothing, or for having given your life to the destruction of the planet?
On the Mission of the Church. Every church has a mission, whether explicitly stated or not. It ministers to its members. It decides where to locate, and what service to provide. If a church had no mission (i.e., was an organization that simply believed in God), there would be no point to it, and it would quickly cease to exist. The Church of Nature has adopted the mission of saving the planet’s biodiversity. It does not hope for just any solution, but visualizes a very specific solution – a single industrial nation of five million, and a globally distributed population of five million hunter-gatherers.
From a practical viewpoint, a church is defined more by its mission than its theology – converting people to its theology, “saving souls,” helping the poor, or whatever. A church’s mission may be explicitly stated, but it may also be defined as part of or implicit in its theology. People join the church who wish to further its mission or benefit from its mission. (There are other reasons, of course, such as being born into a religion, or being forced to join under penalty of death.) The mission of the Church of Nature is explicitly stated. It solicits members who can benefit from its activities (e.g., spiritual and mental development) and wish to work toward the goal of saving the planet’s biodiversity.
It is not part of the Church’s mission to convince people to believe in God – that is a matter of faith, not logic. Most people already believe in God, anyway. The Church is not in the business of “saving souls.” It is in the business of helping people who wish to help themselves, and to accomplish the mission of saving the world’s biodiversity.
Some seeds may “fall by the wayside.” The Church will help all who join, and all who join will help the Church.
It has been said (Gandhi) that there is enough on Earth for every man’s need, but not enough for every man’s greed. There is not even enough for every man’s need, in a world of six billion, or in a world based on global industrialization. All that has ever been demonstrated empirically is that there is enough, on a long-term basis (millions of years) for every man’s need, if there are about 5-20 million people on the planet. Under agriculture, the global human population rose to 300 million, with significant destruction of biodiversity. Under global industrialization, it has risen to six billion and counting. In order to preserve biodiversity, the only known way is to have a human population of on the order of 5-20 million hunter-gatherers.
Will the Church of Nature last for a long time? No, no religion or other creation of man will last for very long. Hopefully, it will last sufficiently long to see the world to a new system of planetary management, with a small human population and an end to the relentless extinction of other species at the hand of man. Based on the evidence to date, it would appear that no planet could be saved from an intelligent, greedy species – that a rich balance of nature is possible only for lower forms of life. The present system of world government – 160 independent nations all champing at the bit to produce more – is not sustainable. Under a new system, it is hoped that mankind will be able to figure out a long-term solution. Under a new system of a single industrialized nation of five million and a globally distributed population of five million hunter-gatherers, perhaps mankind will have time to figure out a long-term solution. If it does, the mission of the Church will have made a real difference. If not, it will simply have delayed the destruction of the biosphere for a short time.
Why do we need the Church of Nature, why one more church/religion? Why not just accept the Church’s mission (preservation of the Earth’s biodiversity) as a worthwhile, secular goal, without the need for a position on the spiritual nature of the universe?
The Church of Nature is essential because the planet is going down the tubes, and nothing is being done to stop the massive destruction of nature, to stop “the sixth extinction.” To date, no person or organization has been able to accomplish a halt to the destruction in the face of capitalism and economics, which promote more industry and more generation of material wealth at the expense of nature. All previous religions have failed in this respect. All governments/societies and supranational organizations have failed to stop the planetary destruction. Most groups are in fact committed to more economic growth and more industrialization – and hence more environmental destruction, and species extinction – not less. Many religions are in favor of more, not fewer people. The point is, all existing organizations are either in favor of more industrialization, or totally unable to do anything about it. The Church of Nature can – and will – do something about it. No other group can or will accomplish this. That is why “one more church” is needed.
The Church of Nature will mobilize all of human society to stop the destruction. It will not fail. It will succeed stunningly. In the name of God. In the name of Nature.
The Church is a “matrix” (distributed, nonhierarchical) organization comprised of independent local units (groups, cells, families, villages, local churches). The only requirement of a local unit to be recognized as belonging to the Church is subscription to the basic theology and mission of the Church.
Each local unit is to meditate and pray for guidance on how it can help accomplish the mission of the Church. The following is suggested as a format for the weekly program of the local unit:
Local units will draw on all available material, in concert with local culture. For example, the martial arts could include jui jitsu, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, fencing, swordplay, archery or any other basic survival / self-defense technique, taking into account local customs, culture, and availability. Music could include music theory, guitar, harp, flute, recorder or any other basic musical instruments. Dance would include local customs (ballet, round dancing, square dancing, folk dancing, traditional dancing). Exercise might include yoga, aerobics, running, cycling, sports, tai chi). Motivation could draw on material from early motivational classics such as Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, or any of the thousands of similar works available today. Survival could include trailing, tracking, archery, bow making, arrow making, shield making, spear making, sword making, blowguns, bolos, slings, fishnet making, fish trap making, blacksmithing, iron making, canoeing, canoe making, navigation, boat making, making all manner of items from wood, leather, and natural fibers (hemp), rope making, spinning and weaving, basic metallurgy, ceramics, pottery, glassmaking, masonry, flea/pest control, leatherwork, tent making, travois making, clothes making, snowshoe making, candle/lamp making, lamp oil, soap making, wick making, dyeing, food sources in the wild, first aid, natural medicine, herbs, toxins, planat and animal husbandry, horsemanship, navigation. Education includes establishing a survivable oral (non-book-based) educational system. It should include some coverage on all areas of human endeavor, including mathematics, science and technology, military science (art of warfare, strategy and tactics). The objective is for church members to be able to survive and have a rich, meaningful life in a primitive, hunter-gatherer environment, or in a single industrial nation.
Helping of others (anyone who needs help, including the young, old, poor, sick, grieving, orphaned, disabled, imprisoned) occurs all the time.
Some of the goals and activities that local units may consider in participating in the Church’s mission are the following:
Each local unit may elect or appoint its own leaders, such as pastor, minister, president, coordinator, group leader, committee members, teachers. When traditional religious descriptors such as pastor are used, it should be recognized that the Church does not recognize any persons intermediate between an individual and God. For this reason, descriptors such as “priest” or “confessor” should not be used (because they do imply an intermediary).
There are three phases to the Church’s mission:
The organization of the Church, and the goals of the Church and its local units, will change over these three phases. In Phase 1, a world headquarters will exist, to facilitate exchange of information among units and guidance. During this phase, local units will work to attempt to preserve what remains of the world’s biodiversity. Local units may take on special projects oriented to a later phase, such as the distribution of low-energy technology (Franklin stoves, wind machines, primitive methods, natural medicine, survival field manuals, assembly of important information and genetic material in safe locations, establishment of nature reserves). Phase 1 is to prepare its members for the day when the industrial world and its energy and technology are gone. It is to promote the cultural, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual development of the members. It is to help mankind to relearn how to live in harmony with nature.
In Phase 1, it is important to visualize the accomplishment of the Church’s mission in very specific terms. Visualize a world of ten million people. Visualize a single industrial nation of five million (the City) and a hunter-gatherer population of five million distributed over the globe (the Country). Focus on the ultimate goal. Desire it. Visualize it. Discuss it. Plan for it. Take action for it. Know that the Church will succeed in its mission. There is no alternative – if it does not, the planet’s biosphere will not endure.
The question has been asked, how quickly should the human population of Earth be reduced? The sooner the better. Even if all nations of the world reduce their fertility rates to “replacement level,” the global population will soar to nine billion by the year 2050. If China and India industrialize as planned (to improve the level of living for their impoverished billions), the planet will surely be destroyed. The October 9, 2000, issue of Time magazine highlights the severity of the problem (“On the Brink,” by Andrea Dorfman). Animal and plant species are disappearing at an alarming rate – the World Conservation Union asserts that the crisis may be more acute than anyone feared.
Visualize a global population reduction now. With every passing year, 30,000 more species are made extinct. At this rate, in fifty years, 1.5 million species will have been made extinct – note that there are only 1.75 million known species! Tomorrow will be too late!
In Phase 2, the Church world headquarters and many of the local units will have been destroyed. If they have done their jobs well in Phase 1, those who remain behind will know what to do and how to function in a low-energy, low-technology world. The governments of the world’s nations will be in a shambles, and the local units are to cooperate in the establishment of a global population of ten million people – a single industrial nation of five million (the “City”) and a globally distributed hunter-gatherer population of five million (the “Country”). In Phase 3, the local units are to cooperate with the new world government. Units in the City are to recognize and support it, and work to fulfill its mission of planetary management, and work for human cultural and spiritual development. Units in the Country are to recognize the City, and also work for human cultural and spiritual development, in a natural environment.
For the City, items of concern are solar energy, planetary surveillance and control systems, literature, history, languages, science and technology. For the Country, items of primary concern are widespread distribution of plant gene banks and wildlife breeding stock (wild animals, horses, buffalo, antelope, primates, large cats, etc., so that these species can regenerate in the wake of a total collapse of the industrial world). As a worst-case scenario, assume that most cities are destroyed in a global nuclear war. It is desired that the distribution of plant gene banks and wild animals will be sufficiently dense that the nuclear-war survivors will not simply eat the seed and kill all of the remaining wildlife for food, in the terrible aftermath of the fall of the industrial world.
The location of the City will not be known until after the fall of the industrial world. In its destruction, much will be destroyed. Who knows what will be left. It is for this reason that it is very important that critical resources (gene banks, wildlife reserves, knowledge stores) be established throughout the planet, so that some of them will survive the holocaust and be available to the new world order for it to reestablish as much as possible of the biodiversity that is presently being destroyed.
In similar vein, it is not known who will survive over the remainder of the Earth. The educational and cultural program of the Church is oriented to ensure that basic survival skills and knowledge exist planet-wide. This will only happen if the Church is successful in reaching out to a very large proportion of the human population.
The current world is not only destroying irreplaceable biodiversity, but it is wasting all of its precious resources (fossil fuel) on a pointless, hedonistic orgy of consumption, when it could be preparing for the future. These resources are critically needed by future civilization. Mankind may be letting a one-shot chance at a civilized future slip through its fingers. The following remark by the cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle should be remembered:
It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing high intelligence this is not correct. We have, or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned. The same will be true of other planetary systems. On each of them there will be one chance, and one chance only. (Hoyle, F., Of Men and Galaxies, University of Washington Press, 1964).
(See Internet web site http://www.dieoff.com for many articles on the essentiality of energy for maintaining industrial civilization, and their critical importance and rapid decline on Earth.)
On Local Unit Policy, Programs, Management, and Operation. The Church does not discriminate in any way for or against any individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, language, nationality, or gender. Local units are free, however, to accept members on any basis. A local unit may be all male, or all female, all white, all black, all English speaking, all Spanish speaking, all American, all Egyptian, or of any racial/ethnic/linguistic/nationality/gender combination. It is recognized that a family or local level, human beings form into groups that are similar with respect to ethnic and other criteria, and that is accepted as human and natural. All races, ethnic groups, and linguistic groups are welcome. They are all viewed as part of God’s creation, and are accepted into the Church without bias.
The Church certainly does discriminate on the basis of creed (system of belief). A person who believes that the destruction of the planet’s biodiversity by overpopulation and industrialization is perfectly acceptable, for example, would not be welcome in the Church, since his views are diametrically opposed to the Church’s mission.
With respect to sexual orientation, the Church recognizes as normal and beneficial, and supports and encourages, a traditional male-female (heterosexual) family relationship. While homosexuality and other sexual deviancy are regarded as abnormal forms of behavior, persons with homosexual or other nonviolent non-normal sexual orientation are to be treated with tolerance and understanding. The viewpoint of the native North Americans that homosexuals are strange but nevertheless a creation of the Great Spirit, to be treated decently by other members of the tribe, is a humane one. Local units may choose to include or exclude practicing homosexuals – or any other category of person – as they wish. The important thing is that the individual accept the Church’s theology and mission. Do not waste precious time and resources arguing about matters that are not of concern to the mission. The planet is going down the tubes, at an extremely rapid rate. Whether homosexuals are treated the same as heterosexuals is not going to make a whit of difference if mankind’s industrial activity destroys the biosphere or most other large species. The important issue is whether the members of a local unit can work together harmoniously and effectively. In the context of what is happening to the planet’s biodiversity, sexual orientation, per se, is irrelevant.
The same could be said of many of the other issues that consume so much of activists’ time and energies, such as abortion, infanticide, racism, gender discrimination – these issues are irrelevant in the face of what is happening to the planet. They have become issues only in the context of a very wealthy society that has time and resources to waste, and is “in denial” about the planetary catastrophe in process. These issues will soon be non-issues. Do not waste time on them. They are not important, relative to larger perspective of the Church’s mission. Leave them to the civil authorities. If you have a personal problem with any of them, use prayer/meditation to resolve it, but do not consume inordinate amounts of the limited resources of the local unit on them. (The issues discussed in this paragraph have more to do with theology than local organization, but they involve practical matters that will face local units, and are included here for that reason.)
Although the Church welcomes all who accept its theology and mission, it has no problem, for example, with the recent decision of the US Government to exclude homosexuals and atheists from the Boy Scouts of America. Local units may choose to adopt or not adopt similar restrictions, as they wish, so long as they are not inconsistent with the theology and mission of the Church. If a local unit feels uncomfortable including homosexuals, that is fine. If a local unit feels uncomfortable excluding homosexuals, that is fine, too. If it desires to include them, but desires also that they not teach children, that is fine, too. The dictum, “Bring up a child in the way that is right, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” is common sense.
On the issue of inclusion in or exclusion from local groups on the basis of other factors, such as race, ethnicity, or language, the Church takes no position. Local units may accept or reject members on whatever basis promotes social harmony and effective accomplishment of the Church’s mission. Most social organizations of the world, from nations to tribes to families, use characteristics such as race, ethnicity, and language as the basis for inclusion of members. Most nations restrict citizenship to members of particular racial or ethnic groups (e.g., China, India, Japan, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Jamaica, Egypt). Most tribes and families do the same. It is recognized that strong nations, tribes and families are formed by peoples of similar race, ethnicity, religion, and language, and the Church is not trying to change this in any way. The Church recognizes people of all races, ethnicity, and language as “children of God,” and hopes that all will join its mission to save the planet. All are welcome and invited. Local units are sought in all nations, of all races, ethnic groups and languages. Obey the law. In some countries, such as the United States of America, certain types of discrimination are illegal in some contexts (e.g., racial discrimination in employment or housing sales).
It is important to recognize that those in economic control of the planet will not take lightly to a Church whose mission is to reduce industrial production. Industrial nations want more people and more production per person: saving the environment and the biosphere is fine as an ideal, as long as it does not interfere with industrial output. All nations want to improve the economic condition of their people – they want more material wealth, regardless of the consequences to the environment. Large industrial organizations want growing populations, as a market for more homes, automobiles, cars, appliances, buildings and streets. When push comes to shove, and it becomes necessary to reduce industrial production to save the environment, all nations of the world will fight – and kill – for more production. As Jesus observed, “you will be hated by all nations, because of me.” It is important to recognize, as James noted, “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the word becomes an enemy of God.”
It is not generally recognized the degree to which and the reasons why modern industrial nations are committed to and addicted to economic growth. Professor Walter Heller, former Chairman of the U. S. President’s Council of Economic Advisers, once noted, “I cannot conceive a successful economy without growth.” As noted by Herman Daly (in Steady-Date Economics), the current economic system is addicted to growth because society is addicted to large inequalities in income and wealth. In a world of poverty and extreme inequality, political control of the poor is made possible by the promise of endless economic growth and the hope for more material wealth for everyone. It stems demands to redistribute income or wealth, since increased industrial production generates new wealth. The downside to continued economic growth, of course, is continued destruction of nature.
As fossil fuels deplete, however, the industrial world will collapse. It is not necessary for any local unit of the Church to take an active role in reducing industrial activity. Indeed, as long as fossil fuels hold out, isolated terrorist activity by individual local units would not only be ineffective, but counterproductive, since it would shift resources from the important long-term task of preserving biodiversity to rather futile limited actions against the industrial world. As long as the existing world governments are in charge, it is important to obey the law – to “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Work within the law to preserve biodiversity, and prepare for a post-industrial world. The time will come, as the industrial world collapses, when the many nations of the world will collapse as well. As and when they do, it is important to be prepared for a new world order, and to work for a world with ten million people and a single industrial nation.
Do not waste time on conservation efforts. All conservation efforts are doomed, in the face of increasing human population and the desire of the world’s governments to increase economic production per capita. A reduction of any amount in consumption (of energy or other resources) is quickly wiped out as the total amount of production increases because of population growth or economic development (more consumption per capita). The emphasis should be on preservation of species and preservation of the environment, not on conservation (or more efficient use) of natural resources. Work (lawfully) to stop the extinction of 30,000 species per year; this can only be done if habitat destruction (e.g., destruction of rain forests and other old-growth forests) is halted. Work to reduce aggregate industrial production and economic development. Move to prevent migration of people from low-energy-consuming countries (poor countries) to high-energy-consumption countries (rich countries), so that aggregate production is less. Act to arrest development efforts, hydroelectric projects, opening of new mines or oil fields, nuclear generating stations, urban sprawl, new construction, free trade, globalization – anything that increases economic activity and industrial production. Work to save the tigers and gorillas, not by building more zoos, but by taking over very large areas for nature reserves.
As the industrial world collapses, a time will come for war. It will not be isolated demonstrations and terrorist actions, but all-out global war that will introduce radical change. It will mark an end to the industrial era, and stop the destruction of the biosphere. Until that time, it is important to cooperate with established governments. As long as the activities of the Church are legal, it can work productively to accomplish its mission of preparation for the post-industrial world. If it were to initiate a frontal attack on the industrial world, it would promptly be outlawed, persecuted, and destroyed. The success of its long-term mission would be threatened. The Church needs as many members as possible from all nations of the world, to visualize and work for a world of ten million people. To accomplish this mission most effectively, it needs the protection of the industrial world, and the temporary use of its resources.
Mathematician John Maynard Keynes observed (in his 1930 essay, “Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren”), the fatal limitations of economics as a long-term basis for human society:
“Some day we may return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue – that avarice is a vice, that the extraction of usury is a misdemeanor, and the love of money is detestable. But beware! The time for all this is not yet. For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to every one that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little while longer.”
As Keynes also noted, “We are ruled by our ideas and little else.”
In his book, The Affluent Society, John Kenneth Galbraith quotes Robert Browning, “Jove strikes the Titans down, not when they set about their mountain-piling but when another rock would crown their work.” In his book, Proverbs, John Heywood quotes the English colloquial saying, “Pryde will have a fall; for pryde goeth before and shame cometh after.”
The Church will not fail in its mission.
The foundation of the Church is the local units. At some point, the world’s governments will turn against the Church, because it does not work for increased industrial activity. The industrialized world is doomed, for a number of reasons – it exists only because of fossil fuels, and they are rapidly exhausting (petroleum reserves half gone, remainder gone by 2050; coal will last somewhat longer); it is inhumane (destruction of nature, creation of and perpetuation of poverty on a grand scale; and it is greed-based. To protect itself against a worldwide onslaught by all of the world’s governments, the Church chooses to have no formal organizational structure. Each local unit is independent. There are no world or regional leaders, and no physical infrastructure. If and when the nations of the world move against the Church, they will find nothing physical to move against. It will endure because it is nothing more than an idea. The industrial world, founded on greed, economics, fossil fuels, the impoverishment and dehumanization of humanity, and the destruction of nature, has sewn the seeds of its own destruction. It is not sustainable. Dialectical materialism. Thesis and antithesis. Change happens.
The Church has no material wealth – its resource is simply an idea, as embodied in its mission. It asks nothing from anyone, other than a commitment to its mission. There is no pope, no cardinals, no archbishops, no bishops or priests. Local units may elect leaders or coordinators or committee members or other officers as they see fit. This local organization is done simply to enable the work of the unit to be accomplished in an orderly fashion. No one serves as an intermediary between man and God.
For the sake of security, local units are encouraged to make use of existing books, materials and programs. For example, in setting up a martial arts program, simply make use of existing systems, such as Tae Kwan Do. Make full use of the current industrial/capitalist system. Ask for an instructor to provide basic instruction to all unit members, in return for referral of members to his regular training facility for advanced training. Do not reinvent the wheel. Do not set up a “Church of Nature Martial Arts System.” When assembling a library of world knowledge, simply collect existing texts. Your library will be indistinguishable from any other, when the world’s nations turn against the Church. Train in survival skills. Establish gene banks and nature reserves in the name of individuals and existing organizations. Assist organizations that are committed to preservation of nature.
The human resources available to the Church are limitless. None of the world’s poor – which is most of the world’s population – is served well by capitalism, industrialism, economics, and politics. Those systems are designed to generate wealth and concentrate it in the hands of the powerful few. The Church of Nature will soon be the largest organization in the world. Make full use of the existing system to assist the transition to the new system. Initially, the Church will encounter no resistance. The world’s large democracies are committed to freedom of speech and separation of Church and state. The Church is not committed to violence or the overthrow of any established government. It is committed to preparing for a world population of ten million people. Use the industrial world’s wealth and technology to assist the transition to the next era. Channel its wealth to preservation projects. Use the Internet for information flow, for discussion, for organizing, for planning, for distribution of information.
Initially, the world’s nations will support the Church, then tolerate it, and then, when it is clear that it is succeeding, they will move against it. But then it will be too late. The industrial world is in denial about the energy crisis that will develop as fossil fuels exhaust. It has no alternatives. Solar energy can support only half a billion people – the nations of the world and the oil companies never mention this fact in their solar energy ads. Initially, the industrial world will not move against the Church, since to do so would represent admission that it is in fact doomed, that it is running on empty, that its days are numbered. It is like a chicken with its head cut off, that is still running around the barnyard. It is like a dinosaur that takes minutes to realize that it is dead. Until it realizes or admits that it is doomed, make full use of its resources to prepare for the future. You, the people of the world, produced the capitalist/industrial system’s wealth. Make full use of it to prepare for your future. The Church, through its members, will soon be the most powerful organization in the world, because it is truly committed to the welfare of people.
The world’s nations are in total denial about the impact of the exhaustion of fossil fuels. In the recent US presidential-candidate debates (October 2000), the candidates talked only about discovering or tapping new petroleum reserves. They never addressed the fact that all petroleum deposits will soon be gone. They spent much time discussing prescription drugs for senior citizens, little time on the greenhouse-gas problem, and no time at all on the impending collapse of the industrial world. They mentioned development of alternative energy sources, but failed to point out that solar energy can support only 10-500 million people worldwide, not six billion or nine billion. Nero is fiddling while Rome burns. Since they are in denial about the imminent exhaustion of fossil fuels and the impending fall of the industrial world, they will not recognize or acknowledge the Church’s activities or mission. To do so would acknowledge that the problem is real, and they would be forced to admit that they have no solution for it. Indeed, they are committed to making the problem worse by more industrialization and the concomitant extinction of 30,000 species per year. At first, they will ignore the Church. Then, as fossil fuels deplete and the problem can no longer be denied and ignored, they will turn against it.
The industrial world is founded on greed, exploitation, and energy from fossil fuels. When the energy is gone, the system will collapse. The Church is founded on love. The world’s poor, and the world’s righteous, will choose love over exploitation, oppression and poverty. The Church entreats the help of God to accomplish its mission. The industrial world has put its faith in the god Mammon. The Church will prevail.
Every aspect of modern life is driven by economics. Gender equality is promoted because it will help the economy. The Earth’s environment is being destroyed because it is good for business.
Do not promote the use of violence to destroy the industrial world and its present governments. The industrial world and its nations will collapse naturally. The role of the Church is to prepare for the aftermath of the fall if the industrial world. Pray for a rapid collapse, since the industrial world is destroying biodiversity at an incredible rate, and threatens the biosphere’s very existence. If the collapse does not happen soon, but instead the industrial world lasts until the last of the fossil fuels runs out, then there may be nothing left to save – it may be too late for the planet. God has given man the planet to use as his free will desires. Up to now, that free will has been applied to raping the planet and jeopardizing its very existence as a rich, varied, mature ecosystem. It is urgent that mankind’s collective will be redirected to saving the planet rather than destroying it. Pray for guidance, and act. Tomorrow will be too late. Pray for a halt to industrialization and a population reduction now. A year from now, another 30,000 species will be gone forever.
Do not believe the lies of the world’s governments, the World Bank, and the UN, that peace and economic development and democracy and education and gender empowerment and microcredit and micropower and free trade and globalization will solve the world’s problems and eliminate poverty. That view is not correct. The planet cannot support six billion people at a high level of living. All that these economic, political, and social initiatives will generate is more material wealth for the world’s wealthy, and more people in direst poverty. The current system is the problem. "We have met the enemy, and it is us." There are more poor people alive today than ever before. Decades of economic development programs have not changed anything except to enrich capitalists and bring about the destruction of much of nature.
The time will come for the establishment of a single industrial nation. At that time, world political power will pass to those who have planned for it, are willing to die for it, and are willing to kill for it. When that time comes, members of the Church are to lend support to the world power that moves to establish a global population of ten million. In the meantime, there is much work to be done, and it most easily done without initiating a war between the Church and the world’s existing governments. War is the implement of others, not of the Church. Put current technology to good use to promote a transition to a better post-industrial world.
The Church does not seek material wealth. It does not solicit monetary contributions from anyone, and it is beholden to no one. It owns no property, has no income, and therefore keeps no financial records. To make use of the Internet and other facilities of the industrial world does, however, require money and resources to be applied at the local level. Make use of whatever you can, your own or freely offered from others, to work for the mission of the Church. Let physical assets dedicated to the mission of the Church remain in the name of the original owner. The Church owns no property – it cleaves only to an idea. It will be impossible for the nations of the industrialized world to seize its assets or destroy it physically, because it will not exist in physical form. The material world will be unable to destroy it, because it will not exist in physical form, but only in spiritual form, as an idea.
The Church will not maintain membership roles. No one is required to publicly declare that he is a member of the Church. All that is required of members is their acceptance of the Church’s theology and commitment to its mission. No money or tithe is required or asked of any member. Give of what you can. Give of your time, and your spirit. Meditate. Pray. Discuss. Plan. Visualize. Act. You will know what to do.
Because the Church is preparing for the end of industrialization, it will obtain no help from the industrialized nations or from industrial organizations. It will accomplish its goals mainly through people who are not dedicated to the accumulation of material wealth – from the world’s poor and modest-income population, as well as persons of good will who decry the death of nature. As the Bible says, “the meek shall inherit the Earth.”
It may be asked why a person cannot be a member of the Church who accepts the mission of the Church (preparation for a post-industrial world; halt of destruction of nature; reduction of human population), but does not accept its theology (single God-concept, an aspect of which has an interest in man and nature on Earth). It is certainly possible to work for good outside the Church, just as it is possible for an atheist to lead a moral, ethical life. The sad fact is, however, that all of the efforts of all “green” (environmental, ecological) groups have failed to prevent the planet’s destruction at the hands of out-of-control industrialization and population growth. This includes secular groups as well as religious groups. It is the conviction of the Church that its mission, a global mission involving much of the world’s population and acting in the name of God, will not fail.
On the Role of the City. The principal role of the City (single industrial nation of five million) is planetary management. The main function is control of the size of the hunter-gatherer population to on the order of five million worldwide. This is done by disallowing all economic development, worldwide, outside the City. The global population outside the City will continue at a hunter-gatherer level of technology, at a size that existed for millions of years of prehistory (i.e., on the order of five million).
In addition to global population management, the City is also concerned with other major threats to the biodiversity of the planet, such as collision by large asteroids. It makes little sense to go to a lot of trouble to save the planet from the current industry-induced sixth extinction, if fifty years from now a major asteroid crashes into the planet and destroys it anyway. The technology exists to prevent this from happening. Since destruction of threatening asteroids is well within the control of man, and since asteroids represent a major threat to the planet’s biodiversity (one caused the most recent extinction, 65 million years ago), the preparation for a world of ten million can legitimately include (and should include) plans and preparation for an active asteroid monitoring and control system.
The City will therefore have an active space program. The City can make good use of the planet’s remaining fossil fuels, for energy for rocket manufacture and propulsion. Wasting these finite resources in a mindless orgy of hedonism and (e.g., shuttling millions to and from Disney World, Las Vegas, or the Pyramids at Giza) and continuation of a capitalist system of dire poverty for billions of people makes no sense at all. These fuels could be used to protect Earth from asteroids for millions of years. They should not be used, as is presently the case, to destroy the planet, but to protect it. Sir Fred Hoyle once noted that we only get one shot at using Earth’s tremendous fossil fuel store. It took millions of years to be created, and we are now in the process of burning it up in an instant of evolutionary time (about a hundred years, actually). What a shameful waste! All the present nations of the world approve of this waste. The choice is yours whether this folly should continue.
What Can the Church Offer You? The Church offers you two things. First, it will provide you with an enabling environment in which you can develop your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural abilities. These include instruction in meditation, motivation, health (exercise, nutrition, digestion, healing), music, martial arts, knowledge, and culture. Second, it offers you the opportunity to participate in the most important and most exciting project of all human existence – stopping the “sixth extinction,” and saving the planet’s environment from destruction at the hands of industrialization. The Church offers you assistance in living a life that is interesting, meaningful, purposeful, and significant. As Jesus said, I am come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.
What Can You Offer the Church? What Are You Getting Into? The Church needs the help of as many people over the planet as possible. Most people alive today, and their progeny, will not survive the next 50 years. Either the planet will run out of fossil fuel and industrial civilization will grind to a halt, or mankind will destroy civilization in a global nuclear war or some other industrial-age-caused catastrophe before then. The timing of when the population reduces, and the state of the planet at that time will be determined by the success of the mission of the Church. Species are being destroyed at the rate of about 30,000 per year, and the planet’s remaining fossil fuel reserves are being exhausted at the rate of about 2% per year. If the industrialized world continues, most species will be destroyed and all fossil fuels will be burned. The biosphere could very well collapse if this happens. In any event, it would be substantially changed and less varied.
The Church can prevent this from happening, and prepare for the post-industrial world. You can make a difference. That world can be devoid of life, or it may be a Garden-of-Eden paradise in which mankind and other life forms can live lives of meaning and fullness.
The industrial world will fight to continue to destroy the Earth. They will attack the Church, not because it is attacking the industrial world directly, but because it exposes the disastrous course of continued industrialization and shows that there is a much better alternative. It will not want the Church even to prepare for a post-industrial world with a low population, because that would admit failure of its system and pave the way for consideration of and work toward an alternative. When the Greek general invaded Troy, he ordered his generals to burn all of the ships that had brought them to Troy. He knew that the soldiers would fight far better when they had no alternative – fight to win and live, or lose and surely die. And they did – even though the odds were against them, they won – they had no alternative. The industrial world will not allow preparation for a post-industrial world, because it can continue more surely if it looks as if there is no escape – that the alternative of terminating global industrialization is worse than the alternative of continuing. The Church’s message is that there is a better alternative, and that we should prepare for it – mobilize -- as rapidly as possible.
The Church will face formidable adversaries – all governments of all nations of the world, as well as international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations. They are committed to increased industrialization, not to less industrialization. Their message is that poverty and a better life for all people will come from more industrialization, democracy, free trade, economic development and world peace. But the emperor has no clothes. Industrialization and democracy and free trade and economic development and world peace are destroying the planet’s environment and biodiversity. The number of desperately poor people increases by about 80 million every year. It is said that if you tell a big enough lie, people will believe it. The message of the industrialized world that it can bring peace and prosperity and economic well being to mankind is a total lie. The world’s leaders play on greed, promising that an ever-expanding economy offers the possibility of material wealth for everyone willing to work for it. They play on the fears of people that war is worse, that the cure for the world’s overpopulation/overindustrialization problem is more frightening than the disease. Their view is that a world of six or nine billion poor people is far better than a world of ten million with no poverty. And that is certainly true for those who rape the Earth and accumulate wealth as billions suffer in dire poverty. The rich are becoming richer and richer, and more numerous, as the planet’s nature is destroyed at a faster and faster rate. But this system will ultimately fail. It is not sustainable. And if it is allowed to continue, it will end not only in the demise of the industrial world, but in the massive and permanent mutilation and perhaps death of the biosphere. The industrial world is over in about 50 years, either way. The only choice is whether to have an intact biosphere at that time, or one that is also destroyed.
The Church cannot fail in its mission. It is indeed true, as the Koran asserts, those who destroy the Earth shall be destroyed. The industrial world is doomed in any event – the issue is how to rescue the best possible planet from its wreckage. Without the Church, the post-industrial world will be a shambles. If the industrialized world is allowed to complete the destruction of the biosphere, it could take another 65 million years to get back to where we are today, minus all of the fossil fuels. With the Church’s intervention – with your help and God’s – much biodiversity can be saved, and some fossil fuels can remain to support useful purposes (e.g., asteroid deflection instead of trips to Disney World).
Without a concerted, world-wide effort, little is likely to happen. Witness the futility of the current environmental movement and antiglobalization movements. Their efforts have not stopped industrialization or the loss of 30,000 species per year. As dedicated as the original founders of Greenpeace or the Initiative Against Economic Globalization (INPEG) may have been, they cannot win against the might of the industrialized world. It will take the concern and efforts of many more people. Visualize the end of global industrialization. It will happen. Visualize also, however, a world of ten million people, a world without poverty, a world that has a high level of biodiversity and is no longer destroying species at the rate of 30,000 per year. Visualize this happening now.
The industrialized world has the backing of all of the world’s politicians and generals. It will be futile and wasteful to engage the industrial world’s military might in a front-on violent battle. What of significance have terrorist groups ever accomplished but more resistance? At some point, however, the global industrial world will fall, and a single nation will emerge. In the meantime, prepare for that day. Work for preservation efforts, and prepare for the day when the global industrial world no longer exists. Do not waste time and effort in violent terrorism, for that will accomplish nothing more than the wasting of the Church’s efforts and jeopardize the success of its mission. The industrial world will collapse, as the world runs out of fossil fuel (or before, if global nuclear war or other major event occurs). Destruction of the global industrial world is not the mission of the Church. The global industrial world is not sustainable and will destroy itself. (Beware the pretty rose, for in its bloom are the seeds of its own destruction -- John Donne.) Our mission is to prepare for the post-industrial phase of human history.
Do not fear the weapons and the might of the global industrial world. As Keynes noted, “We are governed mainly by our ideas, and little else.” The world will soon transit to a post-industrial phase – the only issue is how well. Consider that the British Empire was driven out of India by peaceful means, that Martin Luther established the Protestant Church without a war against the powerful Roman Catholic Church, and that communism fell of its own weight, without war against capitalism. War will likely occur at some point, as fuel supplies dry up – nations are not going to sit around and slowly and quietly starve to death. When it is time for war, it will occur, and dedicated people will do what has to be done. That time is not yet – we have much to do to prepare for the new era.
Should You Choose to Join the Church of Nature? Think about (meditate on) what the Church stands for, and its mission. Its mission is to help you, to help others, to help other life on the planet. When you have reflected on these things, then follow your heart.
What Is Expected of You If You Join the Church? The Church is not looking for “fainthearted” people, but people who share its vision of a better world and who will commit to achieving that goal. You will be expected to accept the theology of the Church, to participate in its functions to the best of your ability, and to work to achieving the mission of the Church. A local unit of the Church may consist of any number of individuals (even one initially, but more is preferred). Local units are autonomous, and may be formed at will.
You are not expected to give your money to the Church, or to proselytize, or evangelize (convince others of the worth of its mission or the validity of its theology). There are no assigned duties. Simply meditate, and you will know what to do. Improve yourself. Participate actively in the activities of the church (training/activities in meditation, motivation, music, martial arts, survival, culture, socialization), which are oriented simultaneously to developing you as a human being and to preparing for the post-industrial world. Give generously of yourself, your time. Take generously of what the Church has to offer. Apply the principles of achievement/success (desire, plan, visualization, etc.) to accomplish your own goals and those of the Church. Do not waste time and effort in arguing with others about the validity of the Church’s theology or the worth of its mission. Think about what you should do, and if it feels right in your heart, proceed. Your contribution, whatever its size, will be multiplied by the billions of other people who will also participate in the Church’s noble mission, and surely succeed. Your participation, and the participation of billions of others like you, will represent fuel that will combust to create a juggernaut firestorm that will surely stop the destruction of the biosphere by global industrialization.
Help others. Follow the Golden Rule.
Improve yourself. Develop your potential and skills. Meditate. Read motivational/inspirational books. Choose your own desires; do not be overly influenced by others; become master of your own destiny, not an insignificant part of or a slave to someone else’s. Learn music and dance, practice good health (eating, exercise, joyful work), martial arts, education, games (physical and mental), survival, culture, social gatherings, marriage, child raising, work, military service. Enjoy fully the world of today, but prepare for the world of tomorrow.
Improve your emotional health. Learn not to be judgmental, do not blame others. Become self-referent. Accept responsibility for your actions. Drive a stake in the ground and take a stand. Pray for strength to change what you can, humility to accept what you cannot, and wisdom to know the difference.
Do not be overly concerned with the mission of the Church to stop the destruction of the planet. It will happen. Focus on the detail of your own development – the big picture will take care of itself. Meditate on it, desire it and visualize it. The global industrialized world has sewn the seeds of its own destruction. It will fall of its own weight. Focus on the future – prepare for tomorrow, after that world is gone. Concentrate on making yourself the best person you can, on making your life an interesting and purposeful and meaningful one. Do your best, and let the chips fall where they may.
Do not focus too much on the goal. Enjoy the process. (Remember Zig Ziegler’s observation, “You don’t pay the cost of good health, you enjoy the cost of good health.”) Do what is good, and just, and prepare, and the ends will take care of themselves. Enjoy what life has to offer. Do not become overly attached to material possessions. Today’s material wealth is unsustainable, and it will disappear as quickly as fossil fuels disappear. Do not become a slave to a mortgage or your credit cards, for you will lose your freedom to control your life. Take care to preserve your health and freedom – they are all you really need.
How Will the Church Accomplish Its Mission? The headquarters web site (http://www.churchofnature.com) will accept informational input from local units via the Internet, and redistribute useful information also via the Internet. Local units will set up their own organizations and programs; suggestions are included at this web site. The Church is just getting started (October 2000), and the availability of guidance materials will increase as time passes. It is viewed that the next several months will be primarily organizational in nature, with operational programs beginning in a few months.
What Will the Church Do for You? The mission of the Church is to save the planet’s biodiversity. Its primary goal is to prepare for a world with ten million people. A concomitant goal is to create an enabling environment, both now and in the future, in which you can develop physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and culturally. Both goals contribute to each other.
There are a number of benefits associated with membership in the Church:
1. The opportunity to help save the planet’s biodiversity – to participate in the most important, challenging, and exciting project of human existence.
2. Skills (meditation, motivation, success/achievement) to help you achieve peace of mind, handle stress, and cope with life’s problems.
3. Instruction in a variety of topics, including music, martial arts, survival, health, to help you get more out of life and prepare for the future.
4. Opportunities to participate in social and cultural activities (e.g., sports, games, dance, social nights).
Will you realize increased material wealth as a result? You may, but that is not the goal. Motivation and success/achievement/self-help programs help you realize whatever goals you may focus on. The generation of material wealth is the root cause of industrialization. Rather, the purpose of the instruction and training is to become a more able person, generally. With enhanced knowledge, skills and a positive mental attitude, you will probably be a lot healthier and be better able to handle stress. In this life, bad things do happen to good people. It is not possible to avoid all of life’s unpleasant difficulties and problems – without them, life loses its meaning and significance. You may still be hurt in an auto accident, your spouse may die of cancer, and your children may not turn out the way that you had hoped. You will, however, have increased abilities to respond to life’s trials, and you will surely enjoy a much more interesting, meaningful, and purposeful life. God may not give you what you ask for, but through meditation and prayer you will receive the strength to carry on, to persevere, to do the best that you can do, and be the best that you can be.
You will achieve spiritual growth by helping others. In the final analysis, there are no ends, only means – all that really matters are other people and how you relate to them. The Church has a goal of preserving the planet’s biodiversity, so that untold millions of people and other life forms may enjoy the Garden-of-Eden paradise evolved on Earth over the last 65 million years and existed until a few centuries ago, but which is now undergoing a process of annihilation because of human population size and industrialization. You have an opportunity to help save the planet’s biodiversity for millions of generations of human beings to appreciate and enjoy. Don’t let this chance of a lifetime – of a million lifetimes – slip through your fingers. Your life will have purpose; you will be able to feel good about yourself and what you are doing in your life. The Church will help you help yourself, to feel good about yourself.
There is, of course, a down side to participating in the Church’s mission. The world will not appreciate your preparing for a world with ten million people. The world will vilify you for this. As a “self-referent” person, doing what you know is right, you will not be overly concerned with what the rest of the world thinks.
On the Matrix Organization of the Church. “If you build it, they will come.... ” The Church of Nature could not have functioned well as a worldwide collection of autonomous units, prior to the development of the World Wide Web, or Internet. The Internet is truly an instrument of empowering individuals to save the planet. It is the consummate product of the global industrial world. It is indeed ironic that the industrial world, through perhaps its greatest achievement, has developed the very tool that will be used to bring it down, to obviate it, to make it obsolete, to prepare for its replacement. No single physical entity on Earth is sufficiently powerful to destroy the global industrial world. But a simple concept – an idea – will surely do so.
On the Role of the Church Headquarters. If the local units of the Church are pretty much free to act on their own, and if the individual gets to know God by direct means (meditation/prayer action, love, science, existence), of what use is the main headquarters of the Church? Its function is similar to that of a catalyst. It will receive input from local units and other interested parties, and maintain a web site describing its theology and mission. It will distribute material that it finds useful. It will serve as an advocate for its mission, just as any other unit.
On the Elimination of Poverty and AIDS. Poverty is a byproduct of economic development. It does not exist in a hunter-gatherer society. It arose with the introduction of agriculture, and has been increased and intensified by global industrialization. It will disappear in a world of ten million people. AIDS would never have spread, but for the mobility of mankind under global industrialization. The AIDS epidemic was caused by global industrialization, and it will not end until that system is finished. Africa and much of Asia has been destroyed environmentally, ecologically, and culturally by global industrialization. As soon as the industrial world is gone, Africa and the other ruined areas will return to stable, functional, balanced environments and societies. AIDS will disappear. Unless prompt action is taken, of course, it will be without the rhino, the elephant, the tiger, the great ape, most other primates, the panda, and many other endangered species.
Global industrialization has destroyed more than nature. It has destroyed men’s souls. The rampant substance abuse, disintegration of families, unhappy people in hopeless, meaningless jobs, lives that are going nowhere, filled prisons, soaring crime and delinquency, loss of personal security and safety – all of those are the fruits of global industrialization. The human race is floundering and foundering; it has lost its bearings and sense of purpose, and it is destroying itself and everything around it. It has replaced the joy and excitement of a proud warrior sending a shaft deep into a stag’s heart with the grinding poverty of a textile worker unable to provide an adequate living for his family. It has replaced the joy and pride of a tribal maid preparing the evening meal from nature’s bounty with an addicted prostitute working the slums of Bangkok. It has replaced a strong young couple raising a family with orphans whose parents have died from AIDS. It has replaced joy and ecstasy with grinding poverty, hopeless existence, and a cruel death from a wasting disease. Global industrialization is the scourge, the abomination, of the natural Earth. Happiness will not return to Gaia until this curse is gone.
Should the Church Assist Other Organizations Dedicated to Its Mission? Yes, the Church should offer help to any organizations that are also committed to its mission, and accept help from them. What if they do not accept the Church’s theology? Yes – the theology is a concern for members, not for nonmembers. It should be noted, however, that means are important, and the Church will not compromise basic moral principles to achieve its goal (e.g., it would not support terrorism from a nongovernmental group, but it would support war on the part of a nation dedicated to its cause).
On Membership. If you get to know God directly (by meditation, etc.) without the need for an intermediary (priest) or acceptance of a particular religion, then of what use is the Church? There are several reasons. The Church will hopefully provide an enabling environment in which you can progress physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and culturally. It will help provide meaning, significance and purpose to your life, through your participation in its activities/mission. You can certainly develop spiritually without the Church of Nature or any other church. You don’t need the Church of Nature or any other church to develop spiritually. It can, however, help you on your quest to enjoy life and better understand the meaning of life. You may need the Church to preserve the planet on which you live, since no other organization appears interested in stopping or able to stop the destruction of the biosphere.
The Church, on the other hand, needs people, many people, in order to accomplish its mission. It has something to offer you (an enabling environment for personal development), and you have something to offer it (participation, support). This is a symbiotic relationship that can help both parties, and all of mankind, and all other species on the planet.