ABBEY’S ROAD – A Wide Path to Destruction

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/97/The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17.jpg
“I think earth would still be a decent place
if there were no human’s on it at all.”
Ed Abbey – The Abbey Road Interview [1]

Edward Paul Abbey (1927-1989) was known as one of the founding fathers of the modern day environmental movement.  As an astute observer of nature, Ed Abbey demonstrated a talent for describing the raw beauty of the natural world.  Abbey also pointed out some of the serious environmental consequences of poor resource management.

Having spent some of the most memorable moments of my life trekking about in wild places, including dozens of mountain ranges and some of the very same back-country wilderness areas that Abbey knew, I can relate to his vivid descriptions of the natural world. While I can also empathize with Abbey’s appreciation for nature, there are profound differences between our worldviews.

Ed Abbey was noted for being an anarchist who unapologetically promoted civil disobedience in order to bring attention to the need for environmental conservation. While he vehemently denied promoting “Eco-terrorism” and disavowed any involvement in criminal activities, he wrote up a working blueprint that was used by countless others who did choose to engage in such activities. [2]  By advocating such things as the spiking of trees and the blowing up of dams, Abbey placed what he deemed to be the best interests of nature above the safety of human beings.

Although a devout atheist who derided any type of organized religion, Abbey demonstrated familiarity with the Bible and biblical concepts.  For example, Abbey was well aware that according to the biblical story of creation, the natural world, as well as the entire universe, was created before man, and that while still devoid of human life, God himself declared (several times) that His creation was “good”.  And indeed it was.

But also according to the Bible, (which Abbey totally rejects), is the fact that something happened to permanently change the condition of the created world.[3]   The disobedience stemming from one man’s sin caused the expulsion of the first humans from the Garden of Eden.  This present world, as beautiful as it may be, is but a poor reflection of the earth as God originally created it and intended it to be.  All of creation since the event known as “the fall of man” has been tainted and subjected to futility:

“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”  [Rom.8:22]

But the Bible was not a relevant document for Ed Abbey. According to Abbey at least, this present world is the only home we will ever know.  There is no alternative to this present world unless there’s some other hospitable planet out there we have yet to discover.  This world is as good as it gets and the only thing wrong with it has been what man has done to it.    We share this planet with a host of other creatures that evolved just like us from some primordial ooze or interstellar space dust.  We must care for nature for nature’s own sake, and because doing so demonstrates that we are evolving as human beings.  Stewardship of the planet has nothing to do with some make believe responsibility entrusted to us by some non-existent deity. For Edward Abbey, the role of man in the environment is all about evolution.

Abbey was known for his provocative and challenging statements that on the surface contain a smattering of truth, but underneath conceal the greatest and most subtle lie of all time.  Abbey’s statement that “the earth would still be a decent place if there were no humans on it”, while perhaps factual in a literal sense, reveals Abbey’s belief that he alone has the authority to determine what constitutes good and evil, right and wrong.

In truth, the world as it exists today, would not be “good” simply by removing man from the equation.  The Bible says that man was created in the image of God, and after he created man, God declared His creation to be “very good”.  The entire creation was deemed “very good” only after the image of God was manifested in the creation of human beings.  According to the Bible, through the exercise of free will, man chose to be disobedient causing a separation to occur between God and mankind, and the beginning of universal decay recognized by several scientific terms, most notably as the law of entropy.[4]

Abbey accepted entropy as an unavoidable fact of life, entirely “natural”, and perhaps even desirable.  A Bible believer like myself would refer to entropy as the result of “sin”, which results in physical, environmental, and social degradation and death.  Abbey chalks up such degradation as a natural result of the natural order of things. Environmental harm is simply caused by greed and patterns of human behavior ingrained by a corrupt educational system and/or religious bigotry.

As far as the environmentalists are concerned, there is no solution for entropy, nor is one needed.  The world is just fine as it is. In fact entropy could be considered their guiding principle, their goal, their “god”.   All that is required for man to take another step on the evolutionary ladder is the adoption of a new respect for all life (and death), leaving old patterns of thinking behind.  If there is no radical change in lifestyles and consumptive patterns, then human beings will have to be greatly reduced or even eliminated, leaving nature to repair itself.

Ed Abbey was content to live for each day, believing that his soulless body would eventually decay and become food for the insects and worms in a never ending cycle of eat or be eaten.  Before he died, Abbey declared that he had no regrets, and had “done everything I wanted to do” including marrying and leaving five wives and countless mistresses.  He modeled the extreme libertarian ideal, or what occultist Anton LaVey postulated as the whole of the (Satanic) law, which can be summed up by the phrase, “do what thou will”. [5]

Like Thoreau before him, Abbey believed that the highest possible ideal was exemplified in wilderness and that an appreciation for wildness had some sort of  redeeming value.  In order to obtain the necessary level of wildness, and if man does not cease his war on the environment, the next step on the evolutionary ladder is likely to include a series of catastrophic events resulting in the extermination of billions of human beings.  If man does not institute the changes needed, then nature herself will instinctively find ways to reduce the threat to biodiversity posed by too many humans living unsustainable lifestyles.  No matter what happens, the diehard environmentalists will never admit that the creator God holds dominion over all things.

Perhaps it was Ed Abbey disguised as the mystery man “R.C. Christian”, who ordered the erection of the Georgia Guidestones, that infamous monument to an environmentally enlightened new world order. [6]   Other likely candidates include such notable figures as Ted Turner, or the writers of the so-called “Earth Charter”, Maurice Strong, Mikhail Gorbachev, or Steven Rockefeller. [7] Regardless of who this “mystery man” is or was, he certainly shared Abbey’s worldview, for there is little difference between what Abbey and his eco-terrorist buddy Dave Foreman promote, and the new “laws” carved into the granite monolith in Georgia:

1. MAINTAIN HUMANITY UNDER 500,000,000 IN PERPETUAL BALANCE WITH NATURE

2. GUIDE REPRODUCTION WISELY – IMPROVING FITNESS AND DIVERSITY

3. UNITE HUMANITY WITH A LIVING NEW LANGUAGE

4. RULE PASSION – FAITH – TRADITION – AND ALL THINGS WITH TEMPERED REASON

5. PROTECT PEOPLE AND NATIONS WITH FAIR LAWS AND JUST COURTS

6. LET ALL NATIONS RULE INTERNALLY RESOLVING EXTERNAL DISPUTES IN A WORLD COURT

7. AVOID PETTY LAWS AND USELESS OFFICIALS

8. BALANCE PERSONAL RIGHTS WITH SOCIAL DUTIES

9. PRIZE TRUTH – BEAUTY – LOVE- SEEKING HARMONY WITH THE INFINITE

10. BE NOT A CANCER ON THE EARTH – LEAVE ROOM FOR NATURE – LEAVE ROOM FOR NATURE

Abbey’s eulogizer Dave Foreman of the Rewilding Institute echos this anti-human sentiment:

“We have come on like a swarm of locusts: a wide, thick, darkling cloud settling down like living snowflakes, smothering every stalk, every leaf, eating away every scrap of green down to raw, bare wasting earth. It’s painfully straightforward. There are too many men for Earth to harbor…” [8]  

All environmental wrongs can be corrected in short order if only human beings were reduced to a number where their impacts can be controlled and minimized.  Something needs to be done (they say) on a global scale. Someone needs to take charge and make the hard decisions necessary to save the planet from what Dave Foreman calls the “man swarm”.

Depopulation has historically been viewed as the final solution for all the problems of the world by numerous misguided souls. [9]  Ironically, depopulation was a solution God Himself used to cleanse the earth of vast numbers of sinful inhabitants.  A universal flood that wiped the earth clean is not just a biblical worldview, but is part of the cultural history of countless peoples scattered across virtually every corner of the planet- from the Hopi in Arizona to the Dyaks of Borneo; from the Battaks of Sumatra to the ancient Babylonians; from the old Welsh legends of Dwyfan and Dwyfach to the Kurnai people of Australia.  Indeed, there is no legend, no myth, no event that is more universally recognized than the flood of Noah’s day.  But the Bible goes far beyond mere threats of judgment on the earth’s inhabitants.  God has provided a permanent solution for the problem of entropy, a solution that includes both restitution and redemption while providing our only sure hope that death and decay are not the end for humanity.

The nightly news is full of stories about impending wars, famines, and pestilence.  Man is undeniably responsible for setting the stage for an entire series of catastrophes.  God appears to be ready to allow mankind to reap the fruits of his corporate sin, not just because the earth is full of greedy self-centered anti-environmentalists, but because of the arrogance and rebellion of men like Edward Abbey, men too proud to humble themselves before their Creator.

 “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 

[2 Peter 3:7]


[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sMdK_xOcIk (Pt. 3 of 3 part Interview.)

[2] “The Monkey Wrench Gang” – c. 1975 by Edward Abbey

[3] Book of Genesis – Chap. 3

[5] Anton LaVey, The Satanic Bible c.1969

[8] [Man Swarm, c. 2011 by Dave Foreman].

7 thoughts on “ABBEY’S ROAD – A Wide Path to Destruction

  1. Dennis

    Ayn Rand (1905–1982) in her classic book The Fountainhead, expressed the view that the artist seemed never to rise above their art; it is ostensibly true for Ed Abbey (I too have enjoyed reading his observations of nature).
    As for Romans 8:, please continue on with: “for the whole creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption. . .; is there a greater vision for earth than that? However the Bible is rejected out of hand, yet brilliant scientists like Hugh Ross so clearly explain the dilemmas which haunt the environmentalist.
    Steve, this post is brilliant in itself, and let me just remind some of these environmentalists that a lowly poor little boy that I was said: “nature will not be preserved without love of nature.” The problem isn’t humanity, but unleashed rebellion in SINFUL humanity. The answer? Christ Jesus died for sin and for sinful humanity, and the earnest of His Spirit testifies with our spirit, as the one thing we CAN do to save not only the planet, but ourselves, expresses that earnest with “Abba Father”, the cry of a broke and contrite heart.

  2. This world cannot be saved, it’s destined for the ash can. Only people can be saved. God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth, the old is passing away.

  3. Ruth

    I really enjoyed this thoughtful article Steve. Educational, Biblically insightful, and expertly written. Thank you.

  4. Dennis

    Steve, knowing that God does everything according to the counsel of His own will, and given that Nineveh is an example of God’s great mercy, I can’t be the one to say He can’t save not only human beings, but the planet in logical terms of duration (entropy rules physics, but God rule His creation).
    Sorry I didn’t think that needed clarification, but dyslexic me always tends to leave enough out to confuse, bewilder, or otherwise illicit such a reaction.

  5. Christopher

    I don’t believe in a God, so I don’t believe that we should get our compass from the Bible or any religious scripture.

    As for the 500 million figure mentioned in theEarth Charter. I guess having 500 million humans is too little for you. If any other species numbers at 500 million they are doing well, yet when it is humanity it isn’t good enough. Nowhere is shifting baseline syndrome more prevalent then when it comes to human population numbers.

    I cannot understand why people like the blog owner and others find themselves bewildered as to why some environmentalists regard humans as a pox on the Earth. Could it be due to the following?

    1) The plastic in the oceans that is choking sea creatures to death.
    2) The pollution we are emitting from oil and coal energy sources which is making Earth uninhabitable.
    3) The fact that humans have destroyed most of the Earth’s ecosystems.
    4) The fact that humans are the only species on Earth that gets a thrill from killing other species.
    5) The destruction of habitats.
    6) Havibg the cheek to ‘cull’ animals when their population gets too high (for our liking) whilst ignoring our own population growth.
    7) We are living in a mass extinction event, caused by us and us alone.
    8) Taking a planet with all the basics for life. A planet that is very rare and teeming with life, and turning it into a concrete block.
    9) The horrific treatment of farmed animals. Only matched by the ‘clearing’ of wildlife to make way for farmland.

    The above points and interconnected and may overlap and it would be precise to say so. They all link back to same thing, the ugly ideology of anthropocentrism and the sheer arrogance of the flunk of evolution that humanity is.

    Perhaps you should take into account WHY some environmentalists think as they do. Instead you see it as some form of warped thinking when it is merely putting two and two together.

  6. Christopher,

    You’ve made several false assumptions, as well as some not so veiled insults. I’ll ignore the insults, for the time being, and focus on a response, but quite frankly, unless and until the blinders fall off your eyes, there is no hope that we could ever agree on this, or other topics.

    The first false assumption I want to address is that I, the blog owner and author of all the articles on this page, am “bewildered” or confused about why some environmentalists think as they do. Nothing could be further from the truth. FYI- At one time, I was a “radical environmentalist”, which I define as extremely human critical, pro-wilderness, and/or pro-nature knows best. I was very involved with the early “movement” and actually helped shape some of the REWILDING doctrines and “native species vs. invasive species” arguments that are still in use today. So, I know how “they” think.

    In fact, I still consider myself very much an “environmentalist”, but now I use the term to specifically refer to “stewardship”. I advocate for “wise use” land and resource management based on scientific principles, use that is beneficial to humans, yes, but also maintains wilderness and species diversity, or what some call “sustainability”. My stewardship model is admittedly Bible based. You actually defined the issue in your first sentence….most radical anti-human earth worshipping environmentalists don’t believe in a God, as depicted in the Bible, so, if they have a “moral compass” at all, it is not based on anything but themselves, their own feelings, their own limited experiences, or their own limited understanding of the nature of things. In other words, most of them sense something is seriously wrong with the world, or what mankind has made of it, but are ignorant about the true nature of things, the true problem.

    Second, I’ve actually answered nearly all your arguments or criticisms in the article itself. I conclude that mankind (due to our sin nature), is both responsible and accountable for our poor stewardship and the degenerating condition of the earth. I wrote, “The nightly news is full of stories about impending wars, famines, and pestilence. Man is undeniably responsible for setting the stage for an entire series of catastrophes. God appears to be ready to allow mankind to reap the fruits of his corporate sin, not just because the earth is full of greedy self-centered anti-environmentalists, but because of the arrogance and rebellion of men like Edward Abbey, men too proud to humble themselves before their Creator.”

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