Something We Can Agree On!

I’m still working my way through The Story of B, obviously, and thus far have met many ideas, mostly those involving the compatibility of science and religion, or just Quinn’s ideas of religion in general, that I find myself in near vehement disagreement with (though I am controlling my temper just fine). He seems to enjoy demonstrating the incompatibility of what he calls “revealed” religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, etc.) with the real world, and in return promotes more of a “religious vision” known as animism, which he describes as what was once the “universal religion” prior to the rise of Taker culture. To Quinn, this “vision,” as he’s been calling it, is far more harmonious and in tune with the world we inhabit and more reflective of the reality of existence and the cosmos. Naturally, I disagree, but that is not for this post.

However, there is a certain “law” which exists in Quinn’s world that I find a certain amount of identification with. This law is known as the “Law of Limited Competition,” which is summed up as follows:

“You may compete to the full extent of your capabilities, but you may not hunt down your competitors or destroy their food or deny them access to food.”

In demonstration from the “natural community” (Quinn translates this as meaning the nonhuman community), “you’ll find competitors killing each other when the opporutinity presents itself, but you won’t find them creating opportunities to kill each other.” This is where we define totalitarian agriculture, as in our Taker culture violating this law, killing its competitors or denying them access to food. Violating this law, as Quinn puts it, is “evolutionarily unstable” and will lead to our eventual demise.

This is one of the points made in The Story of B and, previously, Ishmael, that I find myself in agreement with on a number of levels. Adherence to this law keeps life in balance. A demonstration from an economic point of view may help. Within a good capitalistic system, access to goods is available to you insofar as you have the ability to compete to get them. If you can hack it, awesome. If not, oh well. If everyone is bound to this law, then it doesn’t mean that defeat one day will mean defeat the next. However, what happens is when someone “wins” one day, and begins to seek to eliminate the competition. When you compete for resources, and do so to the cutthroat point that you cut off your competitors, you no longer have a balanced system where economic life can flourish. Harmonious competition must exist for life to continue.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” (Genesis 1:28-30)

As a Christian (I do not consider Quinn’s rejection of “revealed religions” as proper or correct), I find this to be rather in line with Scripture. Quinn points out that Taker culture teaches that the world was made for man, and man must conquer it and rule over it. His statement is very reflective of the common interpretation of the verses in Genesis that command us to do just that, but there is a key truth that many theologians (and Quinn) have overlooked: the way in which we are meant to rule.

The way God rules isn’t like some dictator who leaves oppressive rules and punishes you if you don’t follow them to the T (though that is how He’s been presented). Instead, God rules in a way that he gives back to all that He’s created, sustaining and directing, and redeeming that which has fallen.  Here’s what God told us to do:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)

Our “dominion” is not meant to be totalitarian! We are the gardeners; we are supposed to care for what has been given us, and we have NOT done a good job. We haven’t kept to the Law of Limited Competition. We decided to take up God’s job, deciding who or what lives and dies. In this lies the Fall of Man, but in Christ lies the redemption of the universe.

I guess that’s how I’ve worked out my findings from yesterday. Tomorrow’s State of the Blog, then Monday, we’ll talk some more! See ya then!

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One thought on “Something We Can Agree On!

  1. Pingback: Review: The Story of B by Daniel Quinn | Reading To Live

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