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Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #41
agriculture--the technology and practice of farming--preparing the soil, planting, nourishing, cultivating, and raising crops for food or fiber--or raising livestock, fish, etc. for human consumption. Its earliest beginnings, nearly 10,000 years ago, allowed humans to start trading hunter-gatherer lifestyles for more settled existences. In the last century, the development of manmade fertilizers, pesticides, mechanized farm equipment--and more recently new varieties of grains--has greatly increased agricultural productivity. While globally agriculture still employs 35 % of the world's workers, in affluent countries the corresponding figure is much less (in places dropping below 1%).
alienated--estranged, the opposite of belonging
animal rights --the idea that some animals should have the same most fundamental basic rights as human beings, and that animals in general should be treated with greater respect. Thus some animal rights advocates work for legally guaranteeing certain animals (notably the great apes) the right to life, liberty, and freedom from torture; others push for ethical treatment for animals in general.
anthropocentrism–a human being centered viewpoint that sees humans are the most important thing in the universe, and assigns value to other things based on their usefulness to humans.
anthropocentrism and Christianity–according to historian Lynn White, "Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen... Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia's religions...not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends... By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects." Some Christians have also lamented the prevalence of human-centered worldviews and called for moving from man-centered to God-centered or Christ-centered worldviews
anthropocentrism and science–given that modern science has its roots in the Christian dominated Western world, many historians echo the belief of Wayne Frair. In critiquing Lynn White's famous paper he wrote, "Modern science is an extrapolation of Christian natural theology which realizes man's transcendency of and mastery over nature." It is not hard to find evidence bolstering this position. Indeed, in charting what he believed should be the future course of science in the early 1600s, Francis Bacon expressed the belief that people should wield power over the natural world since they possessed the "right over Nature which belongs to [us] by divine bequest." Of course, the term "science" here should more properly be replaced by "science and technology," since it is the implementing of new technology–so dramatically accelerated by the application of scientific understanding and methods in the last four centuries–that has so radically changed the human relationship with the natural world.
anthropology–the study of the human species, in particular of the origin, nature, distribution, diversity, behavior and works of groups of people. This field is typically divided into physical and cultural anthropology.
anthropomorphism–a general term which refers to interpreting something that is not human by positing human characteristics; in theology, it refers to the belief that God is like human beings in at least some respect.
biodiversity -- a term that refers to the biological diversity and genetic variation present in an ecosystem -- be it tiny biological community or the whole biosphere. It can be gauged by counting the number of species the ecosystem contains. Preserving biodiversity can be important to the stability of the ecosystem, and may have practical benefits in that little studied or unknown species can be sources of new drugs for medical treatments, food crops, inspiration for engineering design, etc. Besides habitat destruction, and genetic manipulation, humans threaten biodiversity with intentional or unintentional introduction of species not native to an ecosystem (invasive species)-- increasingly a problem with growing tourism and globalization of recent decades.
bioregion--a region sharing common geography, similar biological communities, and other climate, cultural and environmental factors that make it stand out as an organization unit for planning purposes. Note that parts of a given bioregion can be in different countries and that a single large country can contain many different bioregions.
biosphere -- the part of the Earth that supports life.
Chain of Being–the historically important idea that life on Earth is organized in hierarchical or ladder fashion, with the lowest, most insignificant creature at the bottom and the highest, most perfect at the top. According to such progressive creationism as shaped by the book of Genesis, God's ultimate goal was the creation of Man, whose place in this scheme is at the top of the chain or ladder. This idea influenced Western science as late as the middle of the 19th century, but ultimately gave way as the modern theory of biological evolution developed. Its history can be traced back 2500 years to Aristotle. It was later added to by religious scholars to include belief that God's ultimate goal in His creation was Man. Linnaeus (1707-1789) sought to reveal God's plan by classifying plants and animals—in his 1737 book Systema Naturae Even after Darwin published his theory of evolution in 1859, many persisted in depicting evolution as culminating in Man.
commodification—the transformation of goods, services, information, ideas, nature--even public resources like water or seemingly private human body parts like a woman’s womb --into something that can be bought and sold like any commodity.
conscience, global environmental--while a few environmentally concerned individuals may build this into their conscience, futurists have imagined a human collective consciousness / global brain that automatically makes individuals aware of planetary well being and encourages them to factor it into their behavior. The book Coming of Age in the Global Village provided one example of this (called GAIA).
creative destruction, non-economic related—out of the death of something, something else is born or gets a growth spurt . Examples: 1) the dinosaurs dying out 66 million years ago when an asteroid struck Earth cleared the way for mammals to flourish; 2) thinning weeds around tiny vegetable plants in a garden gives them space and sunlight to grow; 3) dead fish have been used as fertilizer; 4) stars explode and enrich the surrounding interstellar medium leading to a new generation of star formation; 5) innovation: something happens—perhaps beginning with just an idea-- that leads to the demise of an old technology and its replacement by something new.
cultural imperialism–the rapid spread of one culture to the detriment of another. Often a politically / economically dominant culture is imposed by newcomers–weakening or destroying the existing culture.
deep ecology --believing that humans are not separate from, but rather part of the Earth, this philosophy urges people to take an ecocentric not anthropocentric perspective. Thus it urges more equally valuing all living things, the integrity of ecosystems and natural processes.
dharma--a concept central to the religions of India, symbolized by the wheel, it refers to the underlying principles / inherent order in nature and belief that it is one's duty to live in accordance with them.
dominion over–a phrase from the Bible's book of Genesis used in God's instructions to man: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over...every living thing." Supposedly the original Hebrew this was written in communicates a gentleness and familiarity that is less like subjugation and more like stewardship than the meaning communicated in the English translation above
Earth's natural cycles--study of that very complex system, the roughly 8000 miles in diameter spherical planet Earth, is facilitated by considering its numerous subsystems--some of which are naturally conceptualized as cycles of matter moving within and between the Earth's biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. Driven by input of solar energy, especially critical to life is the closed system cycling of six chemicals--providing individual oxygen, water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur cycles. The key to understanding the appearance of the Earth's surface landforms--and operating over a much longer time frame--is the rock cycle.
ecofeminism—roughly speaking this is about the relationship of women to the Earth / nature, typically concerned with issues at the intersection of feminism, environmentalism, and patriarchy. Within the field some are more centered on egalitarianism, some with issues of respect, some Earth-centered spirituality, etc
ecological conscience--a term popularized by Aldo Leopold who connected it with treating the land right--in accordance with his land ethic. More generally it involves feeling obligated to treat the natural habitat where one lives right: 1) not making a mess of it, and 2) not incurring ecological debt.
ecology--a branch of biology involving the study of living things and their interrelationship with each other and the environment. Its Greek roots (oikos = house & logy = study of) suggest it refers to study of one's habitat
ecosystem -- a self sustaining, interacting natural community of animals, plants, and their physical environment. While matter cycles through such systems, energy moves in one-way (linear) fashion through the associated food chain. At its bottom, plants capture solar energy, are eaten by animals (herbivores and omnivores), who in turn are eaten by other animals (carnivores and omnivores) at the top. These are eaten by microorganisms (decomposers)-- by which time all of the energy that initially flowed into the system will have flowed back out as waste heat. Each living component has a continuing, dynamic relationship with the others. If numbers of species A fall, numbers of species B, which preys upon A, will similarly fall. With less predation of A its numbers begin climbing, and likewise numbers of species B recover as well.
ecological groundedness -- a feeling of being intimately, confidently , enjoyably -- sometimes even joyously -- connected to the wild, natural community where one lives.
endangered species--a biological species whose number of individual members has gotten so low that it is threatened with extinction. In many countries, laws protect such species from humans. see also species
ethical (or moral) relativism–the belief that ethical guidelines or moral rules cannot be evaluated outside of the particular cultural / ethical setting to which they belong. It holds that there are no absolute or universal standards of what is ethically or morally right or wrong. Fundamentalists abhor ethical relativism. For them, the word of God as recorded in sacred religious texts provides not only rules to live by, but an absolute authority on moral questions
ethical treatment of animals -- whether the issue is the treatment of monkeys in research labs, cows being fattened for slaughter, etc, basic minimum standards that those in charge should adhere to include 1) minimizing (if not eliminating) pain that animals under human care suffer while they are alive, and 2) making sure that their deaths are quick and merciful. To these, many would add 3) recognition that people must not just use animals, but must give something back to them in terms of their happiness and enjoyment of life, and 4) treating confined animals in a way that preserves their dignity.
ethology--the study of how animals behave in their natural habitat, and why they behave this way.
evolution -- the ongoing process of physical, chemical and biological change that can be traced from the beginning of the universe, to the lifeless Earth coming into existence 4.5 billion years ago, and to its current state of teeming with a diversity of living things. Biological evolution refers to the process by which the individual members of a species, and species themselves, slowly change due to changes in genetic makeup, environmental circumstances, etc.
extinction -- refers to a biological species ceasing to exist, either because it disappears (perhaps relatively quickly) or slowly evolves into something else. Species can disappear very abruptly in mass extinctions caused by asteroids or comets impacting Earth, or relatively quickly (given that the typical lifetime of past species might be three to five million years) due to negative effects of human activity on the biosphere.
Gaia / Gaia Hypothesis -- Gaia, the ancient Greek earth goddess, has been resurrected in recent years as a sort of presiding spirit of the Earth. According to the Gaia Hypothesis, the whole Earth is in some sense alive and functions as single self regulating organism.
grace -- a person’s belief -- sometimes difficult to sustain given hardships or evidence to the contrary -- that God , Nature or Reality is ultimately on his or her side and will occasionally gift one with unwarranted help. Those who more fully embrace its existence may use the term “miraculous” (or “amazing” as in the song!) in describing grace.
guilt–an emotional state produced by knowing that one has committed a breach of conduct or violated moral standards. If one accepts society’s version of acceptable behavior, the punishment guilt produces is self-administered. From a different (equation based) perspective, guilt can be considered to be: guilt = conscientious behavior — actual behavior .
human body systems–Medical science recognizes ten of them: 1) integumentary: skin / structures derived from it —protects, senses, regulates temp; 2) skeletal: made of bones and cartilage— provides support and protection; 3) muscular: skeletal, cardiac, internal organ muscles —they help us move & function; 4) nervous: nerves, brain, spinal cord, sensory organs—a chief regulatory system; 5) endocrine: glands that release hormones— with nervous system regulates metabolism; 6) circulatory: heart, blood vessels serve as transport system; lymphatic subsystem defends body vs. disease; 7) respiratory: lungs and air flow paths—supplies oxygen to the blood and gives off carbon dioxide; 8) digestive: stomach, intestines, glands (liver, etc.) that secrete juices to break down food, excrete waste; 9) urinary: kidneys and urinary tract—produces urine, regulates blood chemistry, removes wastes; 10) reproductive: in male & female versions, consists of gonads, other structures to perpetuate the species.
human evolution--the evolutionary change that saw modern humans (homo sapiens) develop from the earliest primates over the sixty-five million years since dinosaurs became extinct. The common ancestor of monkeys and apes (a family which includes "naked apes" or humans) was the lemur--a rat sized mammal. The evolutionary paths of gorillas, chimpanzees and humans split around ten million years ago. The first members of the genus "Homo" appeared around 2.5 million years ago, and homo sapiens around 250,000 years ago. A 1987 study, based on analysis of DNA in mitochondria (the cell's power plant), announced that all modern humans are descended from a female (dubbed "Eve") who lived 200,000 years ago. Studies based on both archeological and genetic evidence suggest that humans lived exclusively in Africa until 50,000 years ago--when a small group left their home-land in the Great Rift Valley. Geneticists' maps (based on DNA markers in Y chromosomes) trace their subsequent migration--to Asia, then the Middle East and Europe. There, they out-competed a rival species, homo neanderthalensis, which died out 30,000 years. After crossing Siberia, humans populated the Americas 10,000 to 20,000 years ago.
human exceptionalism–the belief that humans are special and stand apart from the rest of nature and the universe. Some claim this for religious reasons–believing God created man to have dominion over nature. Darwinian evolution challenges this. Others cite humans' extraordinary brains and aptitudes to buttress their contention. . Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, whose decades of working with those peaceful primates known as bonobos has demonstrated their language and concept abilities, has challenged human exceptionalism in a different way. “We’re special because we have this ability to speak, and we can create these imagined worlds,” she postulates. “So linguists and other scientists put these protective boundaries around language, because we as a species feel this need to be unique. And I’m not opposed to that. I just happened to find out it wasn’t true.”
humanistic religious naturalism--unlike traditional humanism, whether secular or religious, which are human-centered (anthropocentric), humanistic religious naturalism is natural world centered. Perhaps Carl Sagan was describing it when he wrote, "A religion that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by traditional faiths."
humility -- or being humble. According to Alan Morinis this involves “limiting oneself to an appropriate amount of space while leaving room for others. Weaving humility into relating to other people means valuing an orientation that proclaims, “I don't have all the answers and I want your contribution.” Embracing humility, according to Gary Zukov, means embracing the “harmlessness of one who treasures and honors and reveres life in all its forms”.
hunter-gatherer society--one in which people derive their sustenance from wild plants and animals, and often (seasonally or otherwise) move if necessary. Before the domestication of these resources, beginning over 10,000 years ago, all humans lived in such societies.
illusion of central position–the incorrect assumption that one’s current viewpoint or position is the preferred, best, central position for experiencing and interpreting some phenomenon. Examples: 1) prior to Copernicus, people believed that the planets revolved around the Earth rather than the sun–a geocentric illusion; 2) some extraordinarily self centered people imagine that they are all important–an egocentric illusion; 3) a related view is that the Earth belongs to human beings and is there for humans to exploit–a conclusion which many feel is based on an anthropocentric illusion.
indigenous people--in 2004 the United Nations provided the following definition: "Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system." By 2020, the World Bank estimated there were 476 million indigenous people worldwide in over 90 countries.
indigenous people rights, from UN Declaration—these two articles were adopted on 9/13/2007: article #11: “. Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies, and visual and performing arts and literature.” And article #12 “. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains”
instinct--an organism's response to environmental stimuli or inherent deposition toward a particular behavior. It is genetically determined, hard-wired and thus independent of previous experience, learning, or memory. Distinguishing instinctual from learned human behavior can generate controversy amongst sociobiologists, psychologists, etc
Jainism--a religion of ancient India, one of the world's oldest. Built around asceticism, non-violence, a tradition of scholarship, dharma, karma, reincarnation, and moksha (nirvana), it teaches that a person's soul can be liberated from suffering if one lives in a way that respects and honors nature. Jains are strict vegetarians and believe that all living things have souls capable of attaining moksha.
ethic--as first formulated by Aldo Leopold in his 1949 classic A
Sand County Almanac, "a thing is right when it tends to
preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It
is wrong when it tends otherwise."
Native American prayer of thanks–“We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us. We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with waters. We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicine for the cure of our diseases. We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters, the beans and the squashes, which give us life. We return thanks to the bushes and trees, which provide us with fruit. We return thanks to the wind, which moving the air has banished diseases. We return thanks to the moon and the stars, which have given us their light when the sun was gone. We return thanks to the sun, that he has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye. Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of his children.” (from Iroquois tradition)
natural capital -- is to be distinguished from manmade capital and human capital. Natural capital includes natural resources (air, water, soil, forests, minerals, fossil fuels, fish, etc) and the biodiversity of natural living ecosystems (grasslands, wetlands, ocean coral reefs, etc.)
natural selection -- a natural process that has the effect of allowing the survival and reproduction of those individuals best adapted to their environment. It operates at genetic, individual organism, and group / species levels and over very long time periods and is the mechanism that explains the appearance of design in nature without invoking the presence of a designer.
naturalistic fallacy -- the (mistaken?) belief that what happens in nature is always right, to which some would add things like “nature knows best”, “living as nature intended is best”, “natural foods are healthiest”, etc
naturopath -- a practitioner of naturopathic medicine. Such a doctor takes a wholistic approach to health care -- emphasizing health maintenance through prevention, and improving health / treating disease by assisting the body's innate capacity to heal itself.
overshoot and collapse -- a phenomenon often seen by ecologists in studying ecosystems. It occurs when the numbers of a certain species dramatically rise, exceed the carrying capacity of the ecosystem, and then fall suddenly. Their numbers can recover eventually, provided the demands on the environment were not such that the carrying capacity is permanently degraded.
pantheism–the belief that God is everywhere, inherent in all things, acting through natural laws and forces. The words of American poet Robinson Jeffers describe this belief: "I believe that the Universe is one being, all its parts are different expressions of the same energy, and they are all in communication with each other, therefore parts of one organic whole...The parts change and pass, or die, people and races and rocks and stars, none of them seems to me important in itself, but only the whole. This whole is in all its parts so beautiful, and is felt by me to be so intensely in earnest, that I am compelled to love it and to think of it as divine. " (from his 1934 letter to Sister Mary James Power) "...Man dissevered from the earth and stars and his history ... for contemplation or in fact... Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness, the greatest beauty is Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty of the universe. Love that, not man Apart from that, or else you will share man's pitiful confusions, or drown in despair when his days darken." (from his work The Answer)
panentheism -- unlike pantheism, which equates God and the universe, panentheism extends this with the following beliefs: 1) there is more to God than the material universe, as in “the whole is more than the sum of the parts”, 2) God is the animating force behind the universe, 3) as the Creator, God exists and remains within all Creation, and 4) God is the source of a universal morality.
pagan--the term has two somewhat different meanings: 1) a person who believes there are many gods (polytheist); 2) one who enjoys sensual pleasures (hedonist) and has no religion.
paternalism and dogs-- In general, paternalism is a system in which adults are treated in a fatherly way like children, with their conduct regulated and their needs met. Typically in exchange for this care, the authority expects loyalty and that those receiving the care will accept their relinquishing of personal control. If you replace the word "adults" in the above description with "dogs", you have the system that governs the relationship between people and the beloved canine family pet!
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)-- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), with more than 6.5 million members and supporters, is the largest animal rights organization in the world. PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in laboratories, in the clothing trade, and in the entertainment industry. It asks the question, “Why should animals have rights?” And answers it by asserting five things :1) Animals Are Not Ours to Eat; 2) Animals Are Not Ours to Wear; 3) Animals Are Not Ours to Experiment On; 4) Animals Are Not Ours to Use for Entertainment; 5) Animals Are Not Ours to Abuse in Any Way
photosynthesis--a process of plants, algae, and certain bacteria in which sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide are absorbed and transformed into chemical energy of carbohydrates (sugars, starches), and oxygen is given off. Light trapping green pigments known as chlorophyll typically play a key role in this process.
private property, sanctity of–the belief that individual possession of private property gives people rights that help guarantee their freedom, and that government challenging those private property rights is tantamount to government trampling on their freedom. Americans who put private property on such a pedestal typically oppose government restrictions on how they use their land, and government employees trespassing on their property–perhaps citing the fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to bolster their legal standing.
production, inefficient--the amount of grain (in pounds) that must be fed to animals to produce
a given amount of meat / protein (say one pound) varies from an
inefficient factor of seven or more for feedlot beef to a more
respectable just over two for poultry, to just under two for certain
species of (fish farm produced) fish.
Given that the modern farming practices behind grain production
are highly energy and water intensive (typically 1/2 ton of water is
needed to produce one pound of grain), and that around 38% of grain
worldwide is fed to animals to produce meat for human consumption, there
is a direct link between increases in meat consumption and increases in
water, energy--and thus increases in greenhouse gas pollutants (from the
fossil fuel energy inputs). According
to the UN's Food and
Agriculture Organization, livestock production is responsible for 18% of
all greenhouse gas emissions. And
University of Chicago researchers have found that the typical American
(heavily meat based) diet is responsible for an additional 1.5 extra
tons of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse emissions per person per
year beyond those associated with a no meat diet. To put this number in
perspective, it exceeds the amount of greenhouse pollutants saved by
switching from a standard sedan to an energy efficient hybrid vehicle.
reductionism–the philosophical belief that understanding a complex phenomenon, system, structure, organism, etc. (or solving a complicated problem) is best done by breaking it into smaller, more manageable parts (problems), and studying those parts (or first solving those smaller problems). Often accompanying a reductionistic approach to understanding is the belief that the whole is nothing more than the sum of the parts. Reductionism is the opposite of wholism (holism).
reverence and humility–reverence–defined as "profound respect mingled with love and awe"–requires humility argues UU minister Phillip Hewett. To feel reverent, he writes, necessitates that "you are humble enough to see yourself as a modest part of a greater whole, not the pivot around which it revolves."
salvation–the saving of a person's soul, the details of which depend on the religion. Consider two generic descriptions of the process for Western monotheistic and Eastern religions, respectively: 1) Souls are saved from suffering and punishment that their sins would otherwise justify, by God—the source for all salvation--forgiving their sins and thus redeeming their souls. (This can happen by the person asking God for forgiveness, and by backing up the request with signs of repentance, or in general by honoring God and observing His commands); or 2) Souls are saved from continuing participation in the cycle of birth and rebirth, which some see ending when the person gives up all desires
salvation in Christianity—According to Michael Murray and Michael Rea writing in the “Philosophy and Christian Theology” article in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, this is “saving [of] human beings from sin and its consequences, which include death and separation from God” by Christ’s death and resurrection. The latter—celebrated on Easter—is the most important event in Christian theology. Many Christians think of this as, “Jesus died on the cross to save all of us from our sins.” The Catholic Church adds to this by saying of the event “it remains at the very heart of the mystery of faith as something that transcends and surpasses history.”
salvation in Islam—refers to something attained by a person entering Paradise—a place of exceptional happiness and delights—after death. Islam teaches that this is something reserved for believers in Allah (the one true God) and his message (Islam)—and only for those who, once they start believing in this, unceasingly continue to do so. According to the Qu’ran, “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost [all spiritual good].”
seasons--periods associated with a particular kind of weather and activity. The Sun's apparent position in the sky during the middle of the day changes seasonally: high in summer (so radiant energy received is more direct/ greater and days are long); low in winter (radiation energy received is less direct / diluted and days are short). Seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth's axis: 23.5o from the direction perpendicular to the plane of its annual orbit around the Sun.
shamanism--An ancient form of mind / body healing that believes in the ultimate connectedness of all things and employs altered states of consciousness. Shamanism is a sort of synthesis of mysticism and magic worldview themes. Shamans attempt to heal by restoring a person's balance with the natural surroundings and all life.
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God—a sermon written and first delivered in 1741 by Massachusetts’ colonial preacher Jonathan Edwards which includes vivid and frightening images of the burning in Hell fate that, he claimed, awaits those who don’t find salvation in Jesus Christ.
soul -- another term difficult to define. Here are three definitions: 1) the vital spirit in all human beings; 2) the part of a human being that is immortal; 3) the feeling /emotional domain of one’s personality. Do animals have souls? “Yes!” some would say.
species--a biological term used to classify living things. Its specification provides the lowest level in classification schemes, followed by (in order from lowest to highest) genus, family, order, class, phylum, and kingdom. While classifying organisms as belonging to the same species originally meant they shared structural and functional characteristics, then extended to mean they were capable of breeding, today there is widespread debate as to the exact definition. There seems to be general agreement that a species is a group of organisms with a common gene pool and is a distinct, evolving lineage.
stewardship--responsible, caring management of something (perhaps natural resources, a piece of land, etc) that is entrusted to a person, organization, or people.
tao / Taoism--the former is a concept from ancient China that can be thought of as the way of nature and, as related to human behavior, the path of virtuous conduct in accordance with nature; the latter refers to the Chinese mystical philosophy or folk religion built around conformity to the tao. Founded by Lao-Tzu in the 6th century BCE, Taoism is polytheist / animist / shamanist in a traditional Chinese way. Ethically it values compassion, moderation, and humility.
Tooth and Claw Ethics / Law of the Jungle--both of these date to the late nineteenth century, the former was made famous by "Darwin's bulldog" Thomas Huxley, one of the founders of evolutionary ethics, the latter by Rudyard Kipling (perhaps influenced by the Social Darwinist currents of the time) in The Jungle Book Earlier in that century, British poet Tennyson had characterized nature as "red in tooth and claw". The Law of the Jungle is basically "kill or be killed".
unconditional love—refers to love and affection that is pure and untainted, has no limits, bounds, conditions and is constant / unchanging. Examples: 1) the human relationship that most immediately comes to mind is a mother’s love for her new born child; 2) those who believe in a personal God, and equate God with love, might say this is the love God has for all of us. Note many Christians do not value conceiving of God in this fashion as much as valuing the supposed salvation that accepting God’s love can provide. This belief—and the accompanying concern that the person may burn in Hell unless they do this—only makes possible their extending love that is conditional. A similar “dogmatic belief gets in the way” problem exists for Moslems.
utilitarianism–the belief that the moral value of actions and associated outcomes should be judged according to the degree to which they are useful and benefit those affected. Utilitarians evaluate the moral rightness of actions by the extent to which they produce the greatest benefit to all concerned. Utilitarianism has two aspects: 1) it links evaluating consequences of actions to human welfare, and accordingly, 2) how it ranks values (value theory) and ties them to human welfare. The latter involves all the complexities of arguments over what gives individuals pleasure or happiness, conflicts between individual choice and societal preference, what benefits society in the long run, etc. And it recognizes that assigning value is not merely done by adding benefits, since what is beneficial to some may be detrimental to others, and both the benefits and risks of possible actions must be weighed
vegan-- one whose diet does not include animal products of any kind. So unlike vegetarians, vegans do not eat dairy products (milk, cheese, etc) or eggs.
vegetarian -- one whose diet does not include meat of any kind (including fish)
wholism (or holism) -- a philosophical orientation that promotes consideration of whole systems , rather than exclusive focus on individual, component parts. This consideration is urged in the belief that the essence of the system can not be grasped by merely analyzing its constituent parts. Examples of systems that lend themselves to wholistic study: a human being, the human species, the Earth’s biosphere, planet Earth, the Milky Way Galaxy, the universe. The opposite approach to wholism is reductionism.
wise use movement–a movement led by people who feel that the government has no right dictating what private landowners can and can not do with their land. The movement, linked to the "Sagebrush Rebellion" in the western U.S.–which also involves public land management concerns, grew out of increasing frustration with laws containing environmental restrictions, protecting endangered species, limiting development, etc. "Wise use" refers to a philosophy about how land should be developed, a philosophy supposedly based on common sense
wise use movement philosophy “articles of faith”—Here are what are perhaps the five key ones that the philosophy is based on: 1) Humans, like all organisms, must use natural resources to survive; 2) The Earth and its life are tough and resilient, not fragile and delicate; 3) We only learn about the world through trial and error; 4) Our limitless imaginations can break through natural limits to make earthly goods and carrying capacity virtually infinite; 5) Humanity's reworking of the Earth is revolutionary, problematic and ultimately benevolent. (excerpted from "Overcoming Ideology," by Ron Arnold)
witchcraft / Wicca--the use of sorcery or magic, the practice of which varies widely. It has roots in a pre-Christian, nature-centered witchcraft religion based on Goddess worship. In post-Christian European cultures it became linked to evil, and the Devil. Witches were typically women, believed to have supernatural powers, who perhaps practiced in secret. During the height of the witch mania, the 15th--17th centuries, hundreds of thousands of women are believed to have been burned at the stake. Wicca is a 20th century revival of ancient pagan witchcraft--which incorporates worship of God and Goddess. These are sometimes seen as dual, complementary aspects of a universal life force--symbolized by the Sun and Moon.
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