History could teach us many things, if we are willing to observe past events and learn what we can from them. We could also ask questions, and see what answers history might provide. One of those questions might be, “Should we worry about Gaia as a religion?”That, of course, leads to other questions that demand to be answered first: One is, “What kind of religion would Gaia become?”

While searching the Internet for examples, it seems easy to learn that Gaia forms a simple fit into Paganism and Wicca, the so-called “natural” religions whose interests are more about holistic practices than about worship. Those folks being more often victims than persecutors, that discovery seems innocuous. So, why worry?

History has made us aware that religion arises in two main forms (among others), of which monotheism displays viral pathogenic memes of intolerance. It is that intolerance that advantaged Constantine’s development of Xianity into a state-approved political force by which he imposed controls on the citizens of his regime. Once convinced of a politically-approved “truth”, whatever implies doubt–however convincingly–gets attributed to the god’s evil scapegrace and disregarded from further considerations. It is this one fact, by itself, that poses monotheism as a danger to humanity and, in its current state, a danger to the existence of life on Earth.

To verify that, look back on history for answers to these questions: “Was it a monotheistic religion that ruled over human beings during the period known as ‘The Dark Ages’, and held even kings and queens as its subjects?” “What is the nature of religions that serve as a political arm for fascist regimes throughout history?” “What is the nature of all three religions currently locked into battle over dominance in the middle east?” You can easily find more questions of that sort to ask and, historically, very few whose answers will provide exceptions to history’s facts.

MONOTHEISM BEGETS MONOATHEISM: Even religious claims against “communist” atheism do not escape from that fact, as in all the examples given, the state acts as a stand-in god, and as the one entity that demands your patriotic devotion. Such a quasi-religious monoatheism enables the state to usurp and attempt to banish any recognized religions while taking advantage of its own monoatheistic intolerance, by posing the state as the source of all truths. What people can accept as true with no recourse to evidence, they can never be shown as untrue. As generations pass, all alternatives fade from common awareness.

As a religion in itself, Gaia would honor only one entity as its god. Gaia would be monotheistic, susceptible to all the dangers that would pose against humanity and, as a result, to the very entity whose existence it would claim to serve. Rather than the Greek goddess whose namesake Lovelock borrowed, monotheism would gain the first god whose presence humankind can observe, the effects of which we can only guess at. A lot would depend upon the role that science would play in that religion. It its scientific role, Gaia could serve as a label under which to bundle data from the Earth sciences

Since science cannot acknowledge that which cannot be falsified (tested), no way has yet been found for it to verify the actual existence of any god or gods. Science cannot declare Earth to be a living entity; it can only acknowledge the presence of life upon its surface, and the symbiotic relationship by which it all gets maintained. Scientists have, of late and in increasing numbers, been declaring that relationship to be at risk.

As a word, monoatheism would appear to make a statement that one god does not exist. (As a word, monoatheism is no more of an invention than is atheism. Being “not-” or “without-” demands that there be something tangible to not be or to be without.) It does not declare which god, nor does science declare any god nonexistent, but that the entire notion of gods is one best held in abeyance (to be not acted upon until one finds facts to go by). Any wise religious person would have awareness of that in his/her own mind concerning adoption of hand-me-down beliefs.

Atheism is, therefore, not a feature of science except as a reasonable assumption inferred from an entire absence of objective evidence. A god’s absence, and a god’s presence, are equally untestable hypotheses. Only the absence of a god is potentially falsifiable, which would occur upon the unquestionable and verifiable presentation of a god. It is that potential of falsifiability that makes its absence the preferable stance and leaves the onus to cause that presentation to all of those laying the various claims about gods. (Where a god is apparently present, then the reality of its godhood becomes falsifiable, but that has no effect on a god’s nonexistence.)

True to the nature of monotheism, monoatheism is necessarily open to accusations of intolerance. Science is intolerant of claims laid in violation, or in absence, of its proven method of finding truth. In science, proclaiming a truth about what cannot be tested is to proclaim a lie.

While it remains open to discoveries that may enable such testing, and that such testing may cause a reversal of position about any certain matter, it is intolerant insofar as it makes that demand. It is the very processes that make it science that gives rise to that; in the absence of those processes, any declarations claiming factuality are not scientific. A scientist would say to hold them in abeyance until new information may render them accessible to a testable hypothesis.

So, enter Gaia.

Since science cannot acknowledge that which cannot be falsified (tested), no way has yet been found for it to verify the actual existence of any god or gods. Gaia as a strictly scientific project seems far more desirable. Given the lessons from history, we should fear any monotheistic form of Gaia even as we should fear the outcome of those monotheisms in whose midst we stay in drowning submergence. Let us work to advance the science, and forego the religious adornments.

The nature of all statements proffering Gaia as a living entity are necessarily religious for so long as how to test them has not been figured out. The wedge insistence that something untestable is still a true fact cleaves the divide between science and religion. A monotheistic Gaia may be subject to all the dangerous aspects of any monotheistic formulations from the past and in the present. The very idea of an Earth-destroying war fought in the name of protecting the Earth seems beyond ludicrous. That remains a very predicable outcome we should rather not see put to the test.

Science cannot declare Earth to be a living entity; it can only acknowledge the presence of life upon its surface, and the symbiotic relationship by which it all gets maintained. Scientists have, of late and in increasing numbers, been declaring that relationship to be at risk, thanks to interest stirred up by The Gaia Theory.

12/16/09 ©2009 by Lloyd H. Whitling. All rights reserved. Updated under new title July, 2013

—Lloyd—

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ONE RESPONSE TO “GAIA AS A RELIGION”

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