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SPACE.com -- The Five Worst Extinctions in Earth's History

Each of these events, naturally caused (asteroids, earthquakes, global warming or cooling, volcanic eruptions, etc), occurred before the "age of mammals."  In fact the last one made it possible for mammal to become the dominant
life forms.  Each of these "mass extinctions" evidently wiped out about 70 to 75 percent of all the species that were in existence at the time.  One of the species that becomes extinct is the previously dominant one.

In 1995, Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin (The Sixth Extinction: Biodiversity and its Survival) suggested that we are at the beginning of another mass extinction, this one caused by human behavior.  The universe will no doubt, go on without us; but I am enough of a sentimentalist to grieve our passing and to hope that it can be avoided.  Albert Nolan believes that by caring enough and by acting enough like we did care enough, we might be able to change the future.  Caring and acting require the destruction of our false selves and a deep appreciation of the common good (common including all humans, all other life forms, the material universe, etc.)


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 22nd, 2009 10:51 am (UTC)
Maybe there will be a humble remnant, like in Israel after the Babylonian exile. If things got that bad, those who have not disdained to get their hands dirty with manual labor (and therefore know how to feed, clothe, shelter themselves) and/or have nurtured the bonds of community, would have an advantage.
Oct. 22nd, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)
the sixth extinction
End-time protestant fundamentalism has the humble elite "raptured up" just before the apocalyptic event. The movie Knowing has two children (both caucasian) taken off the planet just before it is consumed by fire. Their rescuers are either angels or extraterrestrials, I couldn't tell which. Why these two were chosen was never made clear. Many scenarios have the remnant survive only after they have staved off maddened hordes with violence of their own.

In the myth/legend of the great flood. we are told that Noah was a "godly" man, but we have no information about his three sons (or, of course, their wives). As soon as possible after the flood, Noah gets drunk and ends up dividing his sons among the good, the bad, and the ugly and the whole drama starts over again. Incidentally, the story of Noah's intoxication almost makes me believe there is some factual basis to the story of the flood. Do you think Noah was suffering from PTSD? Survivor guilt?

It hurts to imagine that my grandchildren may have to watch their grandchildren go through something like this and that I hadn't done what I could to try to prevent it.

For the time being I'll stick with Albert Nolan's ideas on the matter (Jesus Today) get rid of my ego, love my neighbor, nurture the needy, care for the planet, pray for the best.
Oct. 22nd, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking of the Babylonian exile.

Jeremiah 39:9-10: "Nebuzaradan, chief of the bodyguard, deported to Babylon the rest of the people left in the city, those who had deserted to him, and the rest of the workmen. But some of the poor who had no property were left in the land of Judah by Nebuzaradan, chief of the bodyguard, and were given at the same time vineyards and farms."

And again, Jer.52:15-16: "Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, led into exile the rest of the people left in the city, and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the artisans. But some of the country's poor, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, left behind as vinedressers and farmers."

I wonder if Noah knew he'd get drunk from the wine. The NAB translation says he "was the first to plant a vineyard".
Oct. 22nd, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
I wonder if these "poor who had no land" became the base of the Samaritan population? But even Jesus told the Samaritan woman (according to the gospel of John) that "salvation comes from the Jews" and the Samaritans will just be among "all nations" who will come to worship God "in spirit and in truth."
Oct. 22nd, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
Samaria was the Northern Kingdom (Israel), which had already fallen to Assyria before this. This was the fall of Jerusalem, in the Southern Kingdom (Judah). The Samaritans were indeed Israelites, "children of Abraham" and of Jacob, although their religious observance was very different from the Southerners -- maybe more like modern Jews, since it didn't revolve around the Temple, which was in Judah. Also, the rebuilding of the Temple was central to the restoration of the kingdom after the defeat of Babylon by Cyrus of Persia and his repatriation of the exiled Jews back to their homeland. So, it seems to me, the Temple cult that defined Jewish law and religious practice was probably way exaggerated first by the political desire to differentiate themselves from their rivals in the Northern Kingdom, and later by its symbolic and psychological importance in the restoration of sovereignty after exile.

Oct. 22nd, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
Ah, thank you. Then Galilee, north of Samaria, must have been part of the Israel as well. Did their cultural practices differ radically from Jerusalem's also.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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