Who are we when we are no longer masters of nature?

For centuries, man in Christian society was above nature, above plants, animals and the elements – with a sentence from Genesis at the back: “Subdue the earth!” Of course, the problem is not in the sentence itself, says the historian and bestselling author Philip Blombut probably the history of its effects.

“It would be a bit cheap and a bit too easy to say. Well, the Bible is to blame,” says the historian. According to Blom, the idea of ​​the subjugation of nature is older and originally non-biblical, coming from Mesopotamia and also finding its way into the Bible.

The idea of ​​subjugating nature as a tool of power

“But this, of course, has something to do with the history of Christianity,” says the historian, “because Christianity carried this idea and then eventually carried it out into the world.” With deadly consequences, as Blom explains, because the idea of ​​dominating nature can be used in terms of various power relations.

“Then you quickly realize that, for example, women are closer to nature than men,” says Blom. “At least that’s what male authors have thought for centuries, so they can be tamed and controlled. And then, of course, people of different skin colors are somehow closer to nature than white people, etc.”. In this regard, the Bible’s word from Genesis 1:28, so-called land ownershipalso guilty of the colonization and missionary awareness of Western cultures.

The result: a complete disconnection of the human image from nature

Blom even traced the phenomena of Christian hostility from the original idea that man should subjugate the earth. He who has to master everything that is earthly must also try to suppress everything that is earthly in himself. “My instincts, my lust, my urges, as Sigmund Freud said, must be controlled in the barracks of the domestic police,” explains Blom.

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As for our worldview, this has led to an unprecedented disconnection of people from nature: “Almost all known cultures see people as part of a cycle. This cycle is usually depicted in the mythology dictionary as gods and demons. And man is a part. Every step I take is in the territory of some other being.

Earth as a “dead zone”

In the background of this more original an animistic interpretation of the world of the soul Blom argues that the Bible acted as a “mythological atomic bomb” by denying earthly authority, soul, and selfishness. This promoted a view of land as “dead territory” that could be “plowed, penetrated, bought, owned, sold patriarchally.”

But, according to Blom, the idea of ​​subjugating the land not only had a violent secular, irreligious effect, but also had critics from the start. He sees their alternative way of looking at reality Quantum physics or the theory of relativity: “It is meaningless to describe individual objects or individual events. I can only describe systems. I must see the object in spacetime. I must see the electron in its field, otherwise I cannot. make any sense of the statements.”

An alternative image of man today comes from science

Meanwhile, in all branches of natural sciences, according to the historian, the description of systems has become more important than the description of individual phenomena. And in the face of the climate catastrophe, the awareness that “we are not outside of nature” but existentially dependent on nature’s cycles, the awareness of “the interconnectedness of our lives” is spreading.

“The pandemic has made us realize how biologically vulnerable we are. And science is increasingly inclined to describe us as interconnected animals that live very intensively and symbiotically with a huge number of other species and have their own place somewhere in this large earth system,” says Blom. describes a “radically different picture of the present world”. And a radically different picture of man, beyond the people of “religion” or “enlightenment”. We must ask ourselves anew the question: who are we when we are no longer the opposite of nature, no longer subject and ruler. This is the task of our time .

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