In a few weeks the Daf Yomi cycle will start Misechet Avoda Zara. In our day an age it is difficult to understand how people could worship idols that they themselves had made, however today there are other types of Idol Worship.
There are elements within the green environmental movement that strongly resemble idol worship. For example, This guy makes an argument for climate control which is almost identical to Pascal’s Wager, not sure whether he even realizes that he has drawn the same grid as used to explain Pascal’s wager, or that his argument has the same holes in it as Pascal’s wager has. (If you’re not sure of the logical problems in Pascal’s wager, or this environmental argument, please contact me, I wrote an essay on it in University)
Don’t get me wrong, I believe that it is important to respect and protect our planet, in fact Chapter 2 of Berashit (Genesis), immediately after HaShem creates Man, he commands Man as follows:
וַיִּקַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם וַיַּנִּחֵהוּ בְגַן-עֵדֶן לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ (בראשית ב’ ט”ו)
God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and watch it. (Genesis 2:16)
However, I believe that we should protect our planet for the benefit of future generations. Protecting the planet should not be a means unto itself.
I think that Rabbi Shmuley Boetach phrased it best in a recent column:
Saving a tree, however important, is never as significant as saving a human life. Stopping a rainforest from being decimated is still subordinate to stopping genocide.
Which brings me to the point of this article, there are environment-extremists who believe that saving the plant is more important than saving the human race, they are literarily campaigning for the extinction of the Human race. There is actually a Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT).
In a recent interview, VHEMT founder, Les U. Knight (sounds like a pseudo-name to me) describes the logic behind his movement:
How did the whole VHEMT thing come about?
A. It came about for me the same way it's come about for millions of other people. You just start looking at the world and thinking about the problems and solutions to the problems, and eventually you come down to the fact that our excessive breeding has increased the population to the point where we're not taking care of everybody, and if there weren't any humans on the planet, everything would be fine. The biosphere would recover, species that we are driving to extinction would no longer be endangered and could flourish, and there'd be no more human suffering.
It's an idea that's probably been around for a very long time -- I just gave it a name.
Q. Definitely we humans have made a mess of things on this planet, but we've made some great stuff too -- music, art, literature. Wouldn't it be a shame to see all of that human culture disappear?
A. We wouldn't see it disappear.
Q. Because we wouldn't be here?
A. [Laughs.] All those things are fun for humans, and I hope we continue doing them right to the last day, but we haven't done anything that benefits the rest of the planet. The rest of creation could do just fine without us. Since even before we became Homo sapiens, we've been adversely impacting ecosystems that we inhabited.
In other words, as human beings are incapable of doing anything of benefit to the planet, and the “Planet” is all-important, we would best serve mother Earth by voluntary extinction.
Certainly sounds crazy, but also not unlike Idol Worship of yester-year that was prepared to sacrifice human lives for the perceived benefit of some manifestation of nature.
Lest there be any confusion, let me remind Mr Knight that although we are commanded to protect our planet in Chapter 2 of Genesis, Chapter 1 of Genesis says explicitly that we are here to enjoy and populate this World, as G-d phrased it:
כח וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם אֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם אֱלֹהִים פְּרוּ וּרְבוּ וּמִלְאוּ אֶת-הָאָרֶץ וְכִבְשֻׁהָ וּרְדוּ בִּדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּבְכָל-חַיָּה הָרֹמֶשֶׂת עַל-הָאָרֶץ. כט וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי לָכֶם אֶת-כָּל-עֵשֶׂב זֹרֵעַ זֶרַע אֲשֶׁר עַל-פְּנֵי כָל-הָאָרֶץ וְאֶת-כָּל-הָעֵץ אֲשֶׁר-בּוֹ פְרִי-עֵץ זֹרֵעַ זָרַע לָכֶם יִהְיֶה לְאָכְלָה. ל וּלְכָל-חַיַּת הָאָרֶץ וּלְכָל-עוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם וּלְכֹל רוֹמֵשׂ עַל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר-בּוֹ נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה אֶת-כָּל-יֶרֶק עֵשֶׂב לְאָכְלָה וַיְהִי-כֵן.
בראשית פרק א'
God blessed them [Man and Woman]. God said to them, 'Be fertile and become many. Fill the land and conquer it. Dominate the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every beast that walks the land. God said, 'Behold, I have given you every seedbearing plant on the face of the earth, and every tree that has seedbearing fruit. It shall be to you for food. For every beast of the field, every bird of the sky, and everything that walks the land, that has in it a living soul, all plant vegetation shall be food.' It remained that way.
(Genesis 1 28-30)
I doubt that Mr Knight takes Genesis seriously, however for those of us who are “מאמינים בני מאמינים” (Believers, sons of believers), it is important to realize that there are absolute moral values in this world, and extinction of the human race is not amongst them.