Gaia and Gaianism: What is Gaia? New Age Gaian and Gaia Hypothesis, Facts, Quotes and History
Gaia or gaea, deriving from the Ancient Greek Γαῖα, denotes "land" or "earth." It may also refer to:
Gaia (mythology), the primal Greek goddess of the Earth
Gaia, the Earth in New Age Gaian spirituality
The Gaia hypothesis or theory concerns the stability of Earth's natural systems
Gaia Movement, network of organizations focused on sustainable practices
Gaia philosophy, the concept that living organisms will improve their environment
What is Gaia (Mythology)?
Gaea (variant spelling Gaia) is a Greek goddess personifying the Earth. Etymologically, Gaea is a compound word of "Ge," meaning "Earth" and "Aia" meaning "grandmother" (In modern English, the root "Ge" still relates to terms such as geography (Ge/graphos = writing about Earth) and geology (Ge/logos = words about the Earth) displaying an ancient connection to the term Gaea). Though not as popular as the Olympian gods of Greek mythology, Gaea was still revered for her role as "Mother Nature."
The divinization of the earth by the ancient Greeks as the goddess Gaea was their way of recognizing the intrinsic value of the earth's bounty, fertility and beauty. Hellenistic worship of Gaea was also a celebration humanity's symbiotic relationship with nature.
The idea that the fertile earth itself is female, nurturing humankind, was not limited to the Greco-Roman world. Fertility goddess figurines found worldwide often suggest reverence for a divine, potent mother deity. Early cultures of the Middle East (such as the Sumerian) likely made an impact on Greek views of Gaea, and veneration of the pre-Indo-European "Great Mother" had existed since Neolithic times.
In the twentieth century, Gaea has taken on new importance in the New Age movement, neopaganism, and ecological spirituality through the development of the Gaia hypothesis. The belief in a nurturing Earth Mother is also a feature of modern "Goddess" worship. Today, Gaea represents a celebration of the feminine side of creation embodied in the fertility of Mother Nature.
What is the Gaia Hypothesis?
The Gaia hypothesis or theory is a class of scientific models of the geo-biosphere in which life as a whole fosters and maintains suitable conditions for itself by helping to create a favorable environment on Earth for its continuity.
The Gaia hypothesis was developed by atmospheric scientist and chemist Sir James Lovelock. He formally published the concept first in the New Scientist (February 13, 1975) and then in the 1979 book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Lovelock hypothesized that the living matter of the planet functioned in many ways like a single self-regulating organism, which he named after the Greek goddess Gaia, following a suggestion from novelist William Golding.
According to the Gaia hypothesis the earth and its physical makeup, such as its geological and chemical properties, are tied to the world's ecosystems, and their coexistence influences, if not governs completely, the geological, chemical, and biological circumstances, including the climate, of the earth. Many liken the Gaia theory to an understanding of the earth as a single organism. Originally referred to the Gaia hypothesis, Lovelock's idea has since been designated the Gaia theory, due to its ability to help predict some of the earth's behaviors.
The Gaia hypothesis addresses the remarkable harmony seen between biotic and abiotic elements on Earth. Noted microbiologist Lynn Margulis, who has been an important collaborator with Lovelock in developing Gaian concepts (Turney 2003), sees the history of life as having developed more by cooperation than by competition. Another way of viewing the evidence of harmony highlighted by the Gaia hypothesis, is as a reflection of the intrinsic interdependence among elements of living systems, in which an organism's identity is tied to its relations with other organisms, and its individual purpose—oriented toward the preservation, development, and multiplication of the self—is integrated with a whole purpose of contributing to the development and preservation of the larger whole.
Scientists know that most of the earth's processes are complex and interact with each other. Lovelock hypothesis that all of the earth's ecosystems interact with each other, each one forming a vital component of the earth's structure and regulating the earth. This, Lovelock claims, is how the earth's many different processes, whether biological, geological, chemical, or climatic, remain stable.
Each process exists both in itself, in relation to other processes, and in relation to the earth as a whole. For example, hydrogen would disappear from the earth's atmosphere if it were not for certain biologically produced gases, such as methane. If it were not for some living organisms, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would increase to approximately 30 times its current level, which would cause a greater greenhouse effect, increasing the temperature of the earth's atmosphere, as well as altering its chemical composition and rendering the earth much less suitable for living organisms. Lovelock postulates that only through regulation by living organisms can all of the earth's processes continue and remain so constant.
Gaia "theories" have non-technical predecessors in the ideas of several cultures. Today, "Gaia theory" is sometimes used among non-scientists to refer to hypotheses of a self-regulating Earth that are non-technical but take inspiration from scientific models. Among some scientists, "Gaia" carries connotations of lack of scientific rigor and quasi-mystical thinking about the planet Earth, and therefore Lovelock's hypothesis was received initially with much antagonism by much of the scientific community. No controversy exists, however, about the fact that the biosphere comprising life on earth and the physical environment is a complex ecosystem with life and the physical environment influencing each other in often complex feedback loops extending over multiple different time scales.
What is New Age Gaian?
Gaianism is a very broad and inclusive philosophy and emerging spirituality with various religious expressions. It is said to be rooted in an intuitive knowledge of humanity's intrinsic connection with our home world, the Earth, also known as Gaia. Gaia was originally a primal Greek titan, symbolizing the Earth; all titans, gods, and monsters of Greek mythology originated from her and Ouranos, the primal sky titan (both were birthed from Chaos).
Approaching our home world as Gaia, a name derived from ancient Greek polytheism, offers us a modern Earth-centered and mostly pantheist spirituality based on a belief that the Earth as a superorganism that supposedly has passed through billions of years of evolution. The modern emergence of this Earth-centered philosophy stems out of the accepted Gaia theory which interprets the science behind the Earth as an ancient, living and self-regulating system within systems.
Gaians are individuals who use the Gaia theory of James Lovelock spiritually. These people hold a strong belief that the Earth is, in its ancient legacy and self-regulating expression of life, an entity that we are defined through as a species of the planet. It is a Gaian's endeavor to maintain a close relationship with the planet in order to strive toward world peace, maintain global homeostasis and find inner fulfillment.
Often referred to as Gaianism, or the Gaian religion, this spiritual aspect of the philosophy is very broad and inclusive, making it adaptable to other philosophies, such as Humanism, Taoism, Neo-Paganism, Pantheism, and others.
The beliefs of Gaianism are fairly open-ended:
1. Honor the Earth, who is often referred to as Gaia (sometimes spelled "Gaea"). Gaia is a historically-rooted name which, in its modern context, represents the interdependent "web of life" that includes all physical forms of existence, from bacteria to humans. Sometimes this is expanded to include stars and other planets, or the universe itself.
2. Endeavor to soften or reduce the human impact on Gaia. Essentially, this means being mindful of one's actions and to be moderate with natural resources. Environmentalism and environmental education is strongly encouraged.
3. Be respectful of life in all Its forms. Be respectful and courteous not only of human life, but also animal and plant life. Some Gaians are vegetarians and vegans because of this, but it is not a requirement.
More religious aspects of Gaianism (such as the nature of the divine, afterlife, etc.) are left up to the individual's personal belief system. Gaianism is said to a spiritual philosophy given in an effort to understand the unity of the universe that binds us all and encourage environmental awareness.
GAIA WORSHIP - THE NEW PAGAN RELIGION
Anyone who has studied the global environmental movement has no doubt heard the term "Gaia". Gaia is a revival of Paganism that rejects Christianity, considers Christianity its biggest enemy, and views the Christian faith as its only obstacle to a global religion centered on Gaia worship and the uniting of all life forms around the goddess of "Mother Earth". A cunning mixture of science, paganism, eastern mysticism, and feminism have made this pagan cult a growing threat to the Christian Church. Gaia worship is at the very heart of today's environmental policy. The Endangered Species Act, The United Nation's Biodiversity Treaty and the Presidents Council on Sustainable Development are all offspring of the Gaia hypothesis of saving "Mother Earth". This religious movement, with cult-like qualities, is being promoted by leading figures and organizations such as former Vice President Albert Gore, broadcaster Ted Turner, and the United Nations and it's various NGO's. Al Gore's book "Earth in the Balance" is just one of many books that unabashedly proclaims the deity of Earth and blames the falling away from this Pagan God on the environmentally unfriendly followers of Jesus Christ. The United Nations has been extremely successful in infusing the "Green Religion" into an international governmental body that has an increasing affect and control over all of our lives.
So, what is this new cult of Gaia? It is basically a rehashed, modernized version of the paganism condemned by God in the Bible. Science, evolution theory, and a space age mentality have given it a new face, and made it sound more credible to a modern world, but it is the same paganism in all of its evils. There have been other religious movements that have presented similar revelations about the deity of a living earth, but Gaia has succeeded in uniting the environmental movement, the new age movement, Eastern religions, and even the leaders of many heretical "Christian" so-called denominations behind a bastardized version of paganism where the others weren't able to.
The Gaia hypothesis can be credited to James Lovelock. Lovelock worked for NASA during the 1960's as a consultant to the "life on Mars" Viking spacecraft project. Lovelock's theory claims that the earth's "biota", tightly coupled with its environment, act as a single, self regulating living system in such a way as to maintain the conditions that are suitable for life. This living system, he believed, was the result of a meta-life form that occupied our planet billions of years ago and began a process of transforming this planet into its own substance. All of the lifeforms on this planet, according to Lovelock, are a part of Gaia - a part of one spirit goddess that sustains life on earth. Since this transformation into a living system, he theorizes, the interventions of Gaia have brought about the evolving diversity of living creatures on planet Earth. From Lovelock's perspective in space he saw not a planet, but a self-evolving and self-regulating living system. His theory presents earth not as the rock that it is, but as a living being. He named this being Gaia, after the Greek goddess that was once believed to have drawn the living world forth from Chaos.
The idea of Earth as a living, divine spirit is not a new one. Plato said "We shall affirm that the cosmos, more than anything else, resembles most closely that living Creature of which all other living creatures, severally or genetically, are portion; a living creature which is fairest of all and in ways most perfect." As today's version of paganism, Gaia is eagerly accepted by the new age movement and fits neatly into eastern mysticism, but science was needed to gather in the evolutionists and science-minded humanists. For these people, Gaia was made palatable by Lovelock's Daisyworld model, a mathematical and scientific theory designed to refute the criticisms of Darwin's groupies. Just as evolution eliminates the need for a divine creator, the Daisyworld model provided a theory of evolving life on earth that incorporates natural selection with a world that is interconnected. It eliminates a personal yet separate God, and makes humans a part of the divine spirit that is Gaia.
More appealing to the New Agers and the interfaith movement is the mystical side of Gaia. They can easily relate to the belief that humans can have mystical experiences or a spiritual relationship with Gaia. A connectedness to nature and the belief that humans are a part of this collective consciousness called Gaia appeals to them. Gaia teaches that an "Earth spirit", goddess, or planetary brain must be protected. It is this belief that fuels the environmental movement, sustainable development, and a global push for the return of industrialized nations to a more primitive way of life. Just as with the evolutionists, the humanists, and the other pagan religions of the world, Gaia has named Christianity as the obstacle to human evolution and our spiritual destiny. A document mandated by the U.N.-sponsored Convention on Biological Diversity, the Global Biodiversity Assessment, explicitly refers to Christianity as a faith that has set humans apart from nature and stripped nature of its sacred qualities. The document states:
"Conversion to Christianity has therefore meant an abandonment of an affinity with the natural world for many forest dwellers, peasants, fishers all over the world... The northeastern hilly states of India bordering China and Myanmar supported small scale, largely autonomous shifting cultivator societies until the 1950's. These people followed their own religious traditions that included setting apart between 10% and 30% of the landscape as sacred groves and ponds." (Global Biodiversity Assessment, Chapter 8.1 Introduction: Concepts of the Economic Value of Biodiversity, pp. 68, 69.)
"Christianity, have gone farthest in setting humans apart from nature and in embracing a value system that has converted the world into a warehouse of commodities for human enjoyment. In the process, not only has nature lost its sacred qualities; conversion to Christianity has meant an abandonment of an affinity with the natural world for many forest dwellers, peasants, fishers all over the world.
These people followed their own religious traditions which included setting apart between 10 and 30 percent of the landscape as sacred groves and ponds. Most of these people were drawn into the larger market economy and converted to Christianity by the late 1950s. On so converting to a religious belief system that rejects assignment of sacred qualities to elements of nature, they began to cut down the sacred groves to bring the land under cultivation...." (Ibid., p. 839.)
The Global Biodiversity Assessment concludes on page 863 that:
"the root causes of the loss of biodiversity are embedded in the way societies use resources. This world view is characteristic of large scale societies, heavily dependent on resources brought from considerable distances. It is a world view that is characterized by the denial of sacred attributes in nature, a characteristic that became firmly established about 2000 years ago with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic religious traditions."
While blaming especially Christianity as the root of "ecological evil", the document goes on to praise "Eastern cultures with religious traditions such as Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism [as they] did not depart as drastically from the perspective of humans as members of a community of beings including other living and non-living elements." (Ibid, p. 863.) Non-Christian religions are definitely favored by the global government as good stewards of Mother Earth.
Members of this "Green Religion" will all agree that the Earth is in a crisis state and this ecological emergency is the result of Christian traditions. They believe that the Judeo-Christian belief that God assigned man to rule over the earth has caused us to exploit and abuse it. Monotheism, they assert, has separated humans from their ancient connection to the earth, and to reverse this trend governments, the media, our education system, artists, and other areas of influence must revive earth-centered myth and reconnect us to Earth's spirit. Al Gore, in his book "Earth in the Balance", expounds on this view:
"The richness and diversity of our religious tradition throughout history is a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith, who are often afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside their own systems of belief. But the emergence of a civilization in which knowledge moves freely and almost instantaneously through the world has spurred a renewed investigation of the wisdom distilled by all faiths. This panreligious perspective may prove especially important where our global civilization's responsibility for the earth is concerned." (Earth in the Balance, pp. 258-259.)
Gore praises the Eastern religions and new age spiritualism, while blaming Christianity for the elimination of the ancient goddess religion, and calls for a new spiritual relationship between man and earth.
"we feel increasingly distant from our roots in the earth....civilization itself has been on a journey from its foundations in the world of nature to an evermore contrived, controlled and manufactured world of our initiative and sometimes arrogant design.... At some point during this journey we lost our feeling of connectedness to the rest of nature.... We dare now to wonder: Are we so unique and powerful as to be essentially separate from the earth?" (Ibid, p. 1.)
"The spiritual sense of our place in nature predates Native American cultures; increasingly it can be traced to the origins of human civilization. A growing number of anthropologists and archaeomythologists, such as Marija Gimbutas and Riane Esler argue that the prevailing ideology of belief in prehistoric Europe and much of the world was based on the worship of a single earth goddess, (Gaia) who was assumed to be the fount of all life and who radiated harmony among all living things. Much of the evidence for the existence of this primitive religion comes from the many thousands of artifacts uncovered in ceremonial sites. These sites are so widespread that they seem to confirm the notion that a goddess religion was ubiquitous through much of the world until the antecedents of today's religions - most of which have a distinctly masculine orientation - swept out of India and the Near East, almost obliterating belief in the goddess. The last vestige of organized goddess worship was eliminated by Christianity as late as the fifteenth century in Lithuania." (Ibid, ch. 13, p. 260.)
"We are not used to seeing God in the world because we assume from the scientific and philosophical rules that govern us, that the physical world is made up of inanimate matter whirling in accordance to mathematical laws and bearing no relation to life, much less ourselves. Why does it feel faintly heretical to a Christian to suppose that God is in us as human beings? Why do our children believe that the Kingdom of God is up, somewhere in the ethereal reaches of space, far removed from this planet? By experiencing nature in its fullest...our own and that of all creation...with our senses and with our spiritual imagination, we can glimpse, "bright shining as the sun," an infinite image of God." (Ibid, p. 264.)
If Gore had read the Bible he would know exactly why Christians will not open their mind to these other beliefs as he suggests. The Bible very clearly warns us not to.
Colossians 3:1-5 "Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols."
Colossians 2:6-10 "As therefore you have received Jesus Christ the Lord, walk ye in him; Rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith, as also you have learned, abounding in him in thanksgiving. Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit; according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ: For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead corporeally; And you are filled in him, who is the head of all principality and power"
Gore also might want to read Romans 1:18-25:
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice: Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable. Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto uncleanness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen."
When men began to worship the creation instead of the Creator, the wrath of God was revealed. As societies begin again to turn from the truth of the creation and worship nature, "Mother Earth", or any other deceiving spirit, the evil and deception in their new religion will be made evident by God's response.
Romans 1:26-32 "For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of the women, have burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due to their error. And as they liked not to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them up to a reprobate sense, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all iniquity, malice, fornication, avarice, wickedness, full of envy, murder, contention, deceit, malignity, whisperers, detractors, hateful to God, contumelious, proud, haughty, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy. Who, having known the justice of God, did not understand that they who do such things, are worthy of death; and not only they that do them, but they also that consent to them that do them."
Our societies today are becoming a picture of this wickedness, evil, homosexuality, greed and depravity. As more and more people is brought into the fold by organizations such as the National Council of Churches and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, we can be sure the results will be a further decline into immorality and chaos. There is a drive by these organizations and others to meld Earth worship with Christianity in the name of tolerance, biodiversity, sustainability, and the preservation of Mother Earth. It is a battle for Christianity and an attack on biblical truth. As followers of Jesus Christ we know the truth and must boldly proclaim it. The opposition is fierce and to those who don't know the joy of a relationship with God, it is an appealing proposition. It is accepting of everything, intolerant of nothing, it deifies the environmentalist, worships the feminist, eliminates all responsibility for sin, and frees you to embrace your sinful nature. If we are ashamed of our faith, if we compromise our beliefs, and if we hide and ignore what is going on, we are aiding in our own destruction and countless souls will be lost because of our complacency, selfishness, and inaction.
2 Timothy 1:6-9 "For which cause I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee, by the imposition of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear: but of power, and of love, and of sobriety. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but labour with the gospel, according to the power of God, Who hath delivered us and called us by his holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of the world."