Sunday, May 6, 2012

Is It All Over? A response to Michael York

This is a response (which I have also posted there, to Michael York's "Being Upon the Brink of Catastrophe" on The Wild Hunt. (

Michael believes human history is approaching its end and is inclined to blame the egotism and ecological irresponsibility (and the faction fighting that fuels it) upon the prevalence and character of the Abrahamic religions. And he has had professorial chairs in the subject, as well as being the author of the excellent Pagan Theology: Paganism as a World Religion, which slim and elegant tome I heartily endorse.

I have long believed, as Michael does, that we live in the end times, if not the immediate end times. But I don't blame the Abrahamic faiths so much as a human egotism that is pretty universal, indeed universal to mammalian life; it is more our fatal ingenuity that has cured some problems and caused others it cannot cure. Louis Pasteur is to blame! or Francis Bacon and the beginnings of the experimental scientific outlook! Well, whoever. But since I am old and childless, perhaps it is self-indulgent and childish of me to believe (as I do believe) that we are trapped, that human ingenuity that has conquered so many problems, will find no proper answers for the array that confront us now. I am wary of mentioning my pessimism to those of my friends who have kids, who MUST hope for a better world for them -- and indeed, my friends' kids do give me some hope. (Their taste in music aside.)

And the earth itself -- yes, it's a fecund planet. I think life will survive upon it, even if we bring on pollution and nuclear disaster (anybody read the news from Fukushima lately?). I don't believe in alien civilized life that will swoop down and rescue us, because we've only been capable of such communication for a hundred years or so, and we've just about shot our bolt. How long would it take life on other worlds, even if they do chance to produce something intelligent? (WE didn't, for five billion happy years.) Nor do I think we'll find some refuge to escape TO within hailing distance.