the FIshes of the Sea……

Genesis 1:26 ” And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth,” and Genesis 1: 28″ And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth,” are two of the most frightening verses in the whole of Hebrew and thus Christian scripture.

Why frightening? Simply because they illustrate the arrogance of human kind and in that arrogance provide excuses for the destruction that we have wrought and continue to wreak upon this planet of ours.

Later (in Genesis 9) this supposed God is purported to have said (to Noah )” And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. ” How ture might this be seen to be if only we could, like Dr Dolittle, talk to the animals.

Throughout these Scriptures the biblical writers appear to seek to justify mankind’s supposed superiority by references to our supposed dominion over other forms of life. Psalm 8 makes reference to this “dominion”. Oh yes, I know that this particular Psalm suggests that mankind is a little lower than angels. Just a little lower. perhaps because it is needful to keep the non-preistly (or kingly) minions from becoming too big for their boots…err sandals.

I rather like James 3;3. In this passage the author references such things as Horses with bits in their mouths and the rudders on ships. Later he goes on to say, ” For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind, ” Some how he is tryingto make the point that the tongue, “a little member”, causes a great deal of damage.

Is it an irony that those early references to mankind’s dominion are actually very damaging products of that “little member”? Given, that is, the oral sources of these arrogant scriptural tellings.

As a child I always wondered how man (as it was told to me then) could have dominion over “the fishes of the sea”. Understanding dominion as the power or right of governing and controlling. I could never understand how we could govern or control fishes, or almost any living creature for that matter> it was only much later that I saw and understood that htis was in fact an attempt to put humankind at the head f all living things and that this would be used to excuse so much destructive behaviour towards our planet.

LBC Post…for others writings on the topic go to: Delirious, Maria/Gaelikaa, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana, Rohit, The Old Fossil, Will Knott, Grannymar,

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28 Responses to “the FIshes of the Sea……”

  1. Ursula Says:

    Why are you so down in the mouth about humans off late?

    As humans we can afford a bit of arrogance. We may destroy. But think how much we save by our powers of invention, ways to limit the damage we do.

    There is nothing pure about the world. Why should there? Who so decreed? And remember, by way of comfort: Peter, the Rock, was a fisherman.

    There is plenty in the human sea, and there will always be more. As long as it’s line caught.

    U

  2. Delirious Says:

    I don’t look at this quite the same way. I look at the word “dominion” more as meaning “responsibility”. It is our responsibility to take care of these animals. It is our responsibility to not waste them, or to pollute.

    • magpie11 Says:

      I am not a scholar of Hebrew so i have to go along with the translations offered/presented to me. The word “Dominionn” may well be a mistranslation: I have found that the majority of translations and versions use either dominion or rule:Apparently The Message has Take charge, be responsible. Young’s Literal translation has subdue and rule and good old Wycliffe has be ye lords.

      The Message appears to be idiomatic and the work of one man, Eugene H. Peterson . I have to say that someof the pieces I ahve read do seem to have had their meaning some what changed

      I still believe that these short pieces of religious text arise from the belief that the human race has “rights” over the rest of the planet. However, even assumng that “responsibility” is the correct meaning…we haven’t done very well have we?

      By the way..I wish it was responsibility or better still care>>>

      The word dominion has its roots in the Latin dominus meaning lord, master (Shorter Oxford)….

  3. magpie11 Says:

    I have long been despairing of Homo sapiens. Nasty creatures.

    Your view of our “power of invention” illustrates my point precisely.
    Do you really believe that we limit the damage we do? That is either naive or provocative.

    Who suggested that there is anything pure about the world? Not I! As for any decree..why, you missed the point. People who follow the Christian religion and others would have you believe that their god so decreed……

    Of course using lines to catch any fish will always catch and drown the Albatross, to damn near the point of extinction.

    • Ursula Says:

      Sorry, Magpie, I disagree. Whilst many people do many terrible things humans are not “nasty creatures”. If I believed that I’d never had a child. For that I love my son too much.

      How very interesting that you immediately associate my choice of word “decree” (which is domination neutral, indeed secular) with Christian religion.

      At the risk of everyone coming down on me like a ton of bricks: We evolve. Dinosaurs were around. Now they aren’t. I don’t know how many Bengal Tigers are prowling. Oddly enough, Magpie, the whole environment thing is precisely what makes us human and as you stipulated, “arrogant”. So we are too precious, too selfish to lose a species here or there? Get a grip, people. The world is an ever changing place. Like anyone else I shed many a tear over that which is lost. And I shed even more tears over our selfishness or rather, our thoughtlessness. But, and forgive me for saying so, and before anyone jumps in please do think about it: We are not God. And please, before this becomes a debate about religion, do remember that god plays no role in my life, other than as an extremely useful metaphor about the powers there are. Remember: Apparently we were made in the image of god, the creator. So, by dint of logic, whilst he is boss, some of us are line managers, and others just litter the place. Fact is: We are, and oddly that seems your recent argument, nothing more than part of nature just as any animal is. So let’s not kid ourselves that nature will not take its course.

      Let me ask you another question: Do we really have to take ourselves so seriously as to quiver over Planet Earth going belly side up? If it does who cares? Who cares, Magpie? The only ones who care are us, your “arrogant” race. I bet none of the others of the animal kingdom could give a fig. It happens. Individuals die. And sometimes a whole planet burns out. Like when? What’s the big deal?

      You now may come back to me and say, oh the irony of it: “Yes, but we are not animals. We can actually steer the ship.” Yes, we can. My point entirely. We are inventors. We, the human species are survivors. And why does THIS irony escape so many: The only reason our numbers have increased to bursting point because we were so “inventive” that no one dies any more. (To all those recently, or ever, bereaved: My apologies. I am not heartless. Yet, for the sake of reasoning, some things do have to be said.)

      Let’s hope this will erupt in the debate of all debates. Or maybe it’ll just fizzle out like so many good intentions, intervention, to “save the planet”. Meanwhile I shall continue to recycle and fight for the life of a ladybird which, prematurely, found its way into my study.

      U

      • magpie11 Says:

        “People who follow the Christian religion and others would have you believe that their god so decreed……”

        Above is what I wrote….. I put Christian first simply because it is that with which I am most familiar. I qualified it, deliberatley, with the phrase “and others”.

        I have lunch to prepare, having just allowed myself to be annoyed by my “daughter in law” on the subject of music, so will read more closely later.

        I have just discovered that I can edit and therefore addto a posted post. What fun…

        It seems trite to mention a poular science fiction film here but none the less here goes: During an encounter the handsome hero of The Matrix (you know the chap with the long black coat) has something pointed out to him. Namely that there is one other living organism (actually a group of organisms) that destroys its host. The Viruses It is the pointed out that human beings are like viruses upon the Earth.
        I personally think that the simile only goes so far but it is fairly good.

        We, Homo sapiens, are a destructive species. We destroy other life on the planet, not just a few species by the way, and we also destroy the fabric of the planet. Agreed that there is a lot of that fabric left for us to destroy still but the parts we destroy tend to be important for the species that share the planet with us as well as for us. So, I will modify my epithet and say “nasty species”.

        I agree that “nature” will take its course but H. sapiens, whilst it exists, will continue in its self-centred (perhaps a better word that arrogant) destructive course.

        We are of course touching on ideas of morallity. Bengal Tigers, may I change to Summatran Tigers here please as my (proper) daughter in law just did a fire walk in aid of their preservation? (all donations gratefully received BTW http://www.justgiving.com/Carrie-Mills) Tigers then… why are they in decline? On the verge of extinction? Because of human activity. The vast majority of which is needless and wantonly destructive. Now if we preserve the habtatsfor thetigers we also preserve those same habitats for many other species, not least the plants which give us life.

        Whether the other members of the animal kingdom, or the Plants or the Fungi or the Bacteria give a fig doess not matter. Because Our evolution puts us in a position of power we should give the proverbial fig (where did that phrse come from?).

        I am not at all comfortable with an group of our species giving itself permission via some invented being to behave in the way it does.

        As for not being animals… we are animals. And, I have often gotten myself into trouble with parents of children because I point this out. Okay the parents were usually, you’ve got it I’m sure, very religious. I do not actually believe that we can steer the ship. We think we can but in reality we cannot.

        I just hope that that ladybird was not a specimen of Harmonia axyridis. Another example of human “arrogance”. In similar vein to the Cane Toad in Australia. Bio control my…..! I fit was H. axyridis it was probably in your study (how lucky to have a study) around the end of October!

  4. padmum Says:

    I thought that there was a biblical reference….I enjoyed writing about the topic…thanks for nudging my memory grooves.

  5. Grannymar Says:

    All those books were written and translated by MEN. I wonder if women were allowed near them all those years ago, how different they would be?

    • magpie11 Says:

      It was pointed out by some comedian a while back that no religion was ever started by a woman…how true that is I don’t know, I can only bring to mind the Shakers. Last I heard they were down to six members. Something to do with celebacy. The particular comic made the point that the major religions of the world all seem to have a similar even at the foundation. Some man goes in tot he wilderness and comes back saying he has had a vision or visions. What amazes me is that people always seem to believe him, Any way the comedian pointed out that no woman would be stupid enought to go off into the wilderness with out the basics for survival.

  6. Maria from 'gaelikaa's diary' Says:

    What is wrong if man is superior? I do thing it means responsibility, as Del was saying. It is shameful that man has made such a job of his responsibility.

    • magpie11 Says:

      My point is that mankind is not superior. Mankind is not anymore special than anyother living thing. Mankind considers itself superior and so invented stories about creation that seek to justify this supposed superiority with stories about gods that gave mankind dominion/the right to rule over other living things.

      One may argue that with the right to rule shouuld come the responsibility to care for other living things. Just as the best rulers and members of ruling classes take responsibility for their subjects and underlings. However one cannot and should not seek to change the meaning of what has been written by simply seeking to change words or their meanings as it suits. Unless one is Humpty Dumpty of course.

  7. Grannymar Says:

    Magpie, maybe the reason the ‘men’ were so long in the wilderness was because they refused to bring a map! Even if there were others about you know they would never ask for directions!

  8. Rummuser Says:

    Vedic and Buddhist invocations however sought protection for all life!

    • magpie11 Says:

      I know nothing of the Vedas except that they are among th most ancient of religious texts.
      As for Buddhism: The monks I have had conversations with insist that there is no God.They wouldinsist that the teachings of the Buddha make up more a philosophy of living than a religion.
      It is many years since I have seen them to talk to.
      On ething they did postulate was that jesus was influenced by Buddhist missionaries sent to Egypt at around the time he was supposed to have been there.
      I don’t think that they understood the place that Paul has in formulating the teachings of the Church or of the history of the writing of the Gospels.
      I have always understood that Buddhists seek not to take life. But, like modern vegans, they somehow manage to exclude plant life from this…..

  9. The Old Fossil Says:

    Magpie, I agree with you that our attitude toward the Earth and it’s creatures represents an apalling attitude in many ways, but it is quite an understandable attitude in another. Why understandable? Because it is the reflection of nature achieving a self-aware creature.

    I am leaving God out of this for now. Instead, I approach it from the perspective of what the birth of self-awareness and its evolution would look like. It would not be an evil thing, it would be a natural thing. Out of that natural thing, this creature would contemplate the meaning of its existence. It would make mistakes, it would go through primitive stages – in other words, it would go through the stages of evolution. But, part of the package of self-awareness would be the remembrance of something, something primal, something that it once knew.

    Then, it would develop – naturally – a rational mind, a scientific mind if you wish. Another form of arrogance? No, another primitive form of perception, one to be applauded. it would involve a forgetting of the primal remembrance, for the physical world it perceived would not offer it the new proof of its arrogant perspective. But, it is a tool of self-awareness that is Oh So Valuable!

    Where does this lead? Ultimately right back to the recognition of the true nature of this creature’s true creaturehood. With that will come care and support of other life. And with that will come the remembrance that ultimately leads us back to what we have primitively formalized as God, because we have not developed as a species to where we can perceive that primal source without forgoing all that we have become.

    • magpie11 Says:

      The thing I find most interesting (and mildly amusing) about this is that it echoes in part excuses that I have heard used to justify some of the excesses of capitalism…… oops Politics!

      Basically what is being said is that , because Homo sapiens is the result of an evolutionary path(or is at a place on that path) it makes everything that the species does acceptable because it’s “natural”.

      I have aslo heard similar arguments used to justify the excesses of socialism and no doubt there were( maybe are) people who would use similar arguments to justify the excesses of Fascism.

      Because we have evollved a complex facility for language, and thus according to some, “higher ” thought we are able to describe our activities and the motivation behind them.

      I cannot accept that, because we have this facility, we are better than any other species or superior. Nor do I accept that we have the “right” to dominate other life foms beyond what is needful for our survival.

      I believe that, in this arrogance exists the seed of our own destruction. Unfortunately it also contains the seed for the destruction of many other species.

      Now to get back to Ursula’s initial response from which I havebeen diverted (or allowed myself to be diverted).

      • The Old Fossil Says:

        Magpie. Don’t condescend with mild amusement.

        Now, back to real issues. Mankind has every potential to fail, just like any other lifeform and I have not said otherwise. Nor do I have any sense that humanity has rights over any other creature. What I am referring to is that which cannot be bridged between us. I believe there is more to consciousness than the physical and you do not. I do not feel that this makes me better than you or any other creature. Nor do I feel it makes me less.

  10. magpie11 Says:

    Quick question: Why is it that people want to avoid religion in this?

    If the topic is about anything it is about religion.

    • The Old Fossil Says:

      Indeed, Magpie, I think the topic is about religion, because you are expressing your religion and are quite upset within it. I know you don’t like it when I say that, but I think it is true and relevant, so I say it anyway. I am not part of your religion, but appreciate it along with other religions that I am not part of.

      What I have tried to do is put forth a bit of an introduction to what my real religious views have grown to become. I don’t apologize to you for that. But, this is only an inkling of the integration of my beliefs.

      Quick question: why do you deal with my answer with only another question?

      And, if you must have something more formal, you can find a significant portion of my developed views in a book that was sent to me by my friend Ramana called The Ashtavakra Gita Dialogue: A Duet of One by Ramesh S. Balsekar. It deals with a much deeper and more fundamental cause of our disconnection from our true selves, from our true inheritance.

      • magpie11 Says:

        Oh no! I have no religion…. that all went when I realised the lies on which what I had been taught was built.

        I’m getting all behind with this thread…. have to respond to Ursula and your piece about evolution.

  11. Grannymar Says:

    Discussions on religion so often lead to wars, as do those on politics. I leave them to the armchair generals with time on their hands. I certainly did not join the world of blogging to proselytise or be proselytised.

    I thought the idea of the ‘loose’ in our title was to allow each member to take a topic whatever direction they wanted. I regularly choose to jump outside the box.

    • Ursula Says:

      Grannymar, just like you I try and avoid the subjects of religion and politics in public. However, it’s not possible. Both make up such a huge part of our lives, are – in many ways – responsible how we live that we have no choice but to engage in the discussion.

      You say “I thought the idea of the ‘loose’ in our title was to allow each member to take a topic whatever direction they want”. Quite so. That’s the beauty of the whole concept of the LBC. By the same token the conversations developing in each LBC’s comment boxes should also be allowed to take “whatever direction”. It’s like the flower and the bees, fruitful – and, sometimes, hard work too.

      U

  12. The Old Fossil Says:

    magpie, my comment that it is a religion for you is based upon your abhorence of other religions. I think it takes a religion – or an anti-religion if you will – to be so affected and so competitive.

    I have other friends who are atheists that simply could care less about God or other people’s religions. It is simply not their belief. That is what I am basing it upon.

    • magpie11 Says:

      Given that religion has had such “apocalyptic” effects upon this world, not least of course by giving “permission” for wholesale destruction in pursuit of human desires, I cannot perceive of how anyone who actually cares can ignore the subject, atheist or not.
      Given also that religion has had such destructive effects on a personal level then I have every reason to abhore, as you put it, religion. But then again, I equally abhore certain political “creeds”.

      • The Old Fossil Says:

        Magpie, I respect your personal stance. Although I have challenged you here, I can also toss in that I have watched you seek positive alternatives.

        I have created a short little piece relevant to this at my current blog if you wish to see it. After the fun over here, mind you!

  13. magpie11 Says:

    We seem to have strayed( or been pushed?) far from the original thrust of my post. That obviously suits those who do not wish to confront the truth of the matter.

    The particular idea expressed in these biblical writings serves to justify in the minds of believers the “rightness” of the certain actions of humankind and their effects. Actions that cannot, in my mind, be justified.

    I still remain amused by the arguments based on some idea of evolution as put because they resemble arguments put in other areas. That some people might view this as “condescending” says more about those people than anything else.

    • The Old Fossil Says:

      I am the one who put forth those ideas, so you don’t need to speak of some people. You are correct that me having any concern about anyone’s condescension, if indeed I were concerned, would say more about me than anything else.

      As to your main arguments, you are correct that nothing justifies man seeing himself as superior to or deserving of dominion over any other aspect of nature. I was not posing evolution as an excuse for this. But, perhaps you forget that I am a former science teacher and it fits my nature to think of man as another creature in nature’s development, a competitive creature whose main survival tool is between his ears.

      What I really tried to do was give a verbal bridge, primitive and abbreviated, to my own evolving spiritual views. You are correct that this did cause some divergence from your original point.

      No, I don’t think dominion over nature is a justified position. However, I also don’t think we can ever succeed in correcting it by insisting things be different. I think it appropriate to understand the basis for man’s behavioral nature including his religious leanings. That is different than looking for excuses for this behavior.

  14. magpie11 Says:

    Well, for one so condescending in his nature to raise the percieved condescention of another reminds me of pots and kettles.

    I too am a former teacher whose main subject at College and in studying with the Open University was, broadly, science and more specifically Biological sciences. Later on some study of Earth Sciences. I too class Homo sapiens as another animal. No more no less.
    As for the survival tool. You hit the nail on the head. That tool has allowed man to not only be self aware but to be aware of all other species (given only that not all have been recognised yet) and of their places in the “scheme of things”. With this recognition has come the knowledge of mankinds place.
    We should no longer need the myths and fairy stories of religion and that fabricated excuse for the destruction we continue to wreak upon the Earth.
    It will probably be millenia before we understand fully the workings of this Universe of which we are an insignificant part. However, as a significant part of this small area of the universe I believe we can and should change.
    As for understanding “the basis for man’s behavioural nature including his religious leanings.” It is interesting to find that you suggest that “religious leanings” have a behavioural basis. That is a whole different topic….. forgive me but I did understand that religion “came from God”according to christians and of course Muslims.
    I have long understood that religion is a result of “behavioural” needs in humans. Why invent gods if you didn’t need to?
    No-one was looking for excuses. I was trying to point out that many humans need to make excuses. I put that down to “arrogance” ( a purely human concept of cousre) perhaps the need for excuses arises from their understanding that their behaviour is somehow “wrong” (the evolving morality) and thus they need a reason ourside of themsleves for their behaviour? (no, don’t answer here).

    I was not looking for excuses but pointing them out!

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