Go Forth and Mutilate

  (18 September 07)
  by Greg Spearritt

Humans have taken Genesis 1:28 to heart: we have gone forth, multiplied, filled the earth and governed it. Unfortunately in the process we seem to have become a kind of pestilential extinction event for other forms of life.
According to the ABC Science site, the Swiss-based World Conservation Union (IUCN) says in a recent report that it has identified 41,415 species as under threat world-wide. 40% of these are in danger of extinction, an increase of 188 over 2006 estimates.
On the bright side, given our penchant for violence and our technological sophistication (not to say intelligence), I suppose we’re as much a danger to ourselves as to other species…


I note that Greg seems to be as misanthropist as I am. Humanity can be said to be the 'virus' that is destroying the Earth. If we portray the planet as Mother Earth and call her Gaia, can we then say that Humanity is destroying God?

It is interesting to contrast Genesis 1.28 ("Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over...." RSV) with Genesis 2.15 (The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. RSV). Biblical scholarship has long realised that there are two distinct Creation stories written by different authors at separate dates. The first story, Genesis 1.1 - 2.4a, was written later than the second story, Genesis 2.4b-25.
The second, but earlier, story is presumed to have been a pre-existing group of legends. These were incorporated into the Biblical narratives which were being written down in pre-exilic times. The second story's author is known as 'J', due to his use of the term 'Jehovah' (Jahweh or Yahweh) to signify the name of God.
The first, but later, story was added on as a preface to the Bible following the return from the Exile in Babylon. The first story's author is known as 'P', denoting the Priestly caste, usually thought to be Ezra and his fellow scribes.
The question for us is - Why are the Biblical authors more into subjugation and dominance in the post-exilic period than they were in the pre-exilic?

Posted by David Miller

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