Nature Is Not so Good
as You May Think
Nature red in tooth and claw
The formations and flight of geese hold an attraction for us, particularly my wife. We always liked geese. Until we moved in with them.
We were happy that, when my wife came to Roanoke to find an apartment, there was available a unit that overlooked a small pond on the front of the property. This allowed us a pleasant setting for relaxing and reading on our small patio. We were pleased, too, that there was a family of geese - a mother, father, and seven small kids. It was fun to watch them swim on the pond, march along the grass, and in the case of the young ones learn to fly.
But, we also discovered that geese make poop - a whole lot it. The size is at least as large as that of a small dog. With nine of them the volume and spread of it was the same as if there were a pack of nine dogs roaming between the pond and the apartments. And they were very bold coming right up to our patio and making poop around it. It became impossible to walk on the pond side of our apartment without stepping in something.
I took to spreading my arms and walking menacingly toward them when they came close to our apartment (to be honest they were after the feed spilled by birds from the feeder we had put in a tree). I would chase them till they got of the bank and into the pond. But they were persistent critters that came back almost as soon as I disappeared.
We also noticed another unhappy aspect of goose life. They are mean to one another. Somehow one of the goose children was injured and became lame. When that happened he (or she) was abandoned by the family. The little goose hobbled about on his own. Not only did they abandon him, they became aggressive toward him. When he approached, the mother or father would chase him off while his brothers and sisters ostracized him. When he became able to get into the pond, he swam by himself, excluded from the family formation. When he became a little more ambulatory he had to walk by himself like a leper keeping his distance from the whole and healthy.
The poop and the meanness disillusioned us about geese. We were glad to see them go. And now they have returned - all nine of them (apparently the lame one survived and recovered). We are back to stepping in stuff, and I am back to menacing them. Except for the occasional flight in formation over the pond which is beautiful, they are a big nuisance.
All this reminds me of something I have observed before. Nature is not all it’s cracked up to be by some people.
There seems to be a “natural is best” mentality among, non-believing tree-hugger, save the whales and seals types, but also Christians who think “nature’s way is best” and who are some of the most zealous of the zealots.
When I go to the grocery store I find all sorts of “organic” products produced by “organic” farming. Produce grown with bird poop is better for you than produce grown with “chemical fertilizers.” No longer do you find organics as a small section of the produce department. You find them all over the store. Free range chickens who scratch up disgusting stuff to eat are better than those raised in big chicken coops on feed laced with chemicals and hormones. Cans of tomatoes are labelled “organic” as though other tomatoes are inorganic.
The marketers are not stupid. “You want organics? We’ll give you organics, even if we know there is no difference between the head of lettuce grown organically and the head of lettuce that is not, even though we know lettuce is lettuce. We’ll give you what you want and we’ll charge more.” (This is the way markets work. Give the customer what she wants.) Being the rebellious and counter-cultural type my practice is never to choose what is labelled “organic” except on the rare occasions when the price is less.
Think about “natural medicine.” There is a big racket (not to say some of these people are not sincere) selling vitamin and and mineral supplements. It is said that the body will heal itself, if it get the right “nutrients” and avoids the bad ones. So people are encouraged to “fire your M.D.” to get off their pharmaceuticals, to eat lots of eggs and avoid grains, and, of course, to order to take mega-doses of various supplements. These programs will let the body “heal itself.”
Another aspect of the preference for the natural with regard to health is, not only for adults to get themselves off their medicines, but to keep their children from vaccinations. These vaccines, it is said, do harm to your child, causing such things a autism. Medicines and vaccines involve putting into your body things that God did not put there (not in the body’s “natural” state), and so we should avoid them. Then too, unless you have suffered an acute injury, you should avoid surgery. Don’t let those doctors maim you.
Big agri-business, the big-medical-establishment, and big-pharma are out to get you. They have a financial interest in making and keeping you sick.
And I wonder if these people, especially the Christians, have ever heard about the fall. Do they not remember that the ground was cursed? That thorns and thistles, and sweat and pain, and death became part of human existence? That the whole creation is in a state of bondage and groaning? They seem to think and make decisions on the assumption that nature is just fine and to be preferred over anything that interferes with it. But nature is not in its pristine “good” condition. Creation is under a curse.
Then there are those who think “man is bad” while “nature” is good. Man is the threat. Let the ground and let the animals alone free of man’s interference.
Among unbelievers this is accompanied by faith in a totally natural evolution. I find this ironic. Isn’t man a part of that evolutionary process? Isn’t man an animal? Why then is the animal man and what he does not as much a part of nature as anything a tree is or a cougar does? And have they not noticed how brutal the natural world can be? They kill other animals that are smaller and weaker. Animals are selfish. There may be plenty of food, but the big ones will drive the weaker ones away and fight with the other big ones to protect their supply. Animals are competitive and shameless, especially when mating season comes along. Animals eat their young and fight to the death.
Man is an animal (or, if you are a Christian, a person) who likes to cut down trees and build houses. He likes to make automobiles so he doesn’t have to walk or ride a dumb animal, and so far he has not found a better way to make his automobile go than by finding and extracting oil and making gasoline. Man likes to dig coal to keep him warm or to turn it into electricity. Why are plants and (the other) animals good and man bad? Isn’t man acting as naturally as the rest?
I am glad I never had polio which was a big threat till the vaccine came along. I am glad my children did not suffer the measles as my wife and I did (both kinds). I wish none of us had to go through the chicken pox, as kids now don’t. I am glad I have not ended up in the hospital on intravenous fluids or at home in bed for a week with acute diverticulitis as I did before a section of my colon was removed. I am glad my wife did not die but was saved by surgery when she had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. I am glad for the penicillin that cured me over night when I had strep throat and a 106 temperature. I am glad for the cholesterol and blood pressure medicines that have kept us alive so far.
If I grill a steak, I want that cow to have been fed grain not grass. I want that meat to be marbled and to char, not turn that sickly gray color of grilled grass fed beef. I want my chicken to be fat and meaty not scrawny. I want my ear of corn to be filled out and have large kernels, and I don’t want to have to pick worms out it. I want cheap cotton clothes which means I want the fields dusted with pesticides and supplemented with fertilizers. And, I want everything that scientific medicine can do to give me as long and quality life as possible. So I will submit to the surgeon’s knife and take the medicines prescribed when diet and exercise don’t do enough.
What I want is a little rationality, especially on the part of Christians. Nature is fallen, and so are we. We have to be careful what we do to creation because we fallen humans can abuse rather than manage it. We humans need to cooperate with nature to the extent it does any good. Sometimes nature’s way is best, but often it is not. Let’s follow where scientific investigation leads. We need to have confidence in evidence based science and medicine that help us to mitigate the effects of the fall while we wait for nature’s full redemption - and ours, in the resurrection.