Kingdom Of Man
Seyyed Hossein Nasr
There are believing men and women who also do bad things. There has been Cain and Abel, the murder of a brother goes back to the origin of spiritual anthropology. But the destruction of nature, destruction of the whole created order was reserved for modern man, and it was reserved for the modern man, because modern man was the first sector of humanity that turns us back on mass not completely, but the majority paradigm against God, and try to replace God by man, that is they try to replace the kingdom of God by the kingdom of man. And that’s what took place in the Renaissance really.
You see this in the famous painting of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. You have an anthropomorphic God who’s giving life to Adam and they both look alike. Once God begins to look like man, it’s the beginning of reaching the stage, where a few centuries later Nietzsche will say God is dead.1 Now, this never occurred in Islam or any other civilization, but let’s stick to the case of Islam. There’s a lot of horror of pollution, of ugliness in big cities in the Middle East, Cairo, Tehran, Karachi, they’re polluted cities, there’s a lot of dirt and so forth and so on, and the waste of national pollution has reached the Islamic world, there’s no doubt about that. And they’re less prepared to deal with it than let’s say Washington D.C. where I live right now, also no doubt about that.
However, the way that the people think is not the same way as those people who caused these pollutions to start with, that is Western secularized minds who created the 19th century Industrial Revolution, and the idea of the plunder of the earth and domination of the earth and materialism and so called better standard of living, which was material living at the expense of everything else, all that has led to the environmental crisis, including modern medicine, which increased the population of the world if you have to be — say everything.2 But these are all double edged swords, that both are — one positive, one negative affect to them. Now, the Islamic world has never accepted those thesis, has never — and it’s much more first of all obedience to God. And if Tehran is polluted, they will never say, oh, God forbid that there’s no God, because Tehran is polluted.
That way of thinking, it’s not there because that way of thinking in the West could only come when the true metaphysics was lost actually in the Renaissance.3 That is the fact that the world is not God, means that the world cannot be perfect, only God is good. Even Christ said “Say not that I am good, only my father in heaven is good.”