Nature Lover October 2017
Mankind is the enigma when we try to work our way around this word, Nature. The wolves in a pack hunting a baby deer in the woods do not consider it unnatural to take that meat-on-the-hoof for their dinner. The mouse looks at the fat beetle the same way. Dolphins work in teams hunting fish, which when “corralled,” jump out of the water into the dolphins’ mouths. The most environmentally conscious human would call all of these activities “natural.” Yet when that same person looks at mankind, hunting in packs, using mechanizations, attacking a food source of inferior strength, or tricking a poor animal into being raised on a ranch for consumption, they consider these acts unnatural.
Why on earth would they think that way? Aristotle (384 BC to 322 BC) said, we must “study specimens in their natural condition, not damaged ones.” Sophocles (497 BC to 406 BC) spoke through the character Antigone to the ruler Creon, “I do not think your proclamations of such force that you, a man, destined to die, should override the laws of the gods, unwritten and unvarying. For those are not of yesterday nor of today, but everlasting. No one knows when they began.” These were both proclamations of what those philosophers thought about the natural order of things.
I love what C.S. Lewis said about this. “The ant, if it had sufficient language, would look upon the brick wall as a natural artifice in its world.” Man has the capacity to think beyond his actions and beyond his current state of affairs. The elk that finds another elk trying to become the boss over his herd attacks ferociously. This is considered a natural act. Yet a man that attacks another man for flirting with his wife is considered violent. Why do we think that way?
I know the natural man. That man resides in me. That man sees something belonging to someone else and “naturally” wants it. We have modified the situation through mass production to make copies available to all but it does not change my desire. Tolstoy described it perfectly, “I want his shirt and he wants mine.” That is as basically animalistic as we can get; “natural” as some would describe it. Yet, we hate that characteristic. Our morals, our religions, our laws, and all that is written say it is wrong.
So why are the wolf, the mouse and the dolphin different from the man? It is because everyone of us senses something that no other animal can. We know unconditionally that there is something outside of what we see. We have a sense of giving. We have a sense of justice. Barbara said, “I saw these flowers on sale for a dollar a bunch so I bought them all and gave them to my neighbors.” Why would she do that? What I call this “outside” factor and what someone else calls it may differ, but I call this element God.
It is God who causes us to think that we need not be an animal. He provides the differentiating guidelines. He, very unnaturally, gave His own Son as a sacrifice to save us. That purchase was not as cheap as Barbara’s flowers, but the very unnatural thought of it, the giving without expectation of return, that is precisely what makes us who we are. His desire for us is to be the least natural of beings on this planet.