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his form, takes delight in its destructive qualities, and thrusts them in the
face of complaining human beings.
Anyone who has encountered this God might have a few choice words
for Representative Shimkus. This God makes no kind promises; if any-
thing, he authorizes his creation to humble humanity at any time. Under
his sway, disasters might indeed be ordinary events, and mass extinc-
tions—and the emergence of all kinds of Leviathan-like creatures—
might become a regular part of Earth's history. I would thus suggest that
we should take this God as the exact mythological counterpart of the
forces that in the view of science have operated over the history of the
biosphere; there is in fact litle diference between the atitude the God
of the whirlwind displays and the implicit tone of those dynamic systems.
In our time, the gap between a mythic and a materialist sense of those
superhuman forces has virtually disappeared. Both do their work on time
scales and with a power far beyond human imagining; both manifest a
chaotic inventiveness and casual destructiveness that dwarf our own; and
both, having produced humankind, are indifferent to our well-being. This
God would worry no more than biodynamic systems about the devas-
tating consequences of climate change; if anything, to speak in mytho-
logical terms, he would point them out as further demonstrations of
his wild power.
It might be tempting to repudiate this God as a being who takes delight
in humiliating us. But if we responded in that way, we would not be true
to an important and revelatory dimension of ourselves, a dimension real-
ized in Job's response. We love wild creatures; the great predators—lions,
cheetahs, tigers, sharks—move us beyond words. We take an astonished
delight in the furious power unleashed in tornadoes and hurricanes—in
the very forms that the God of Job chooses to clothe himself. When we
see such things, we know we are in the presence of something infinitely
greater than us, something that does not mind our concerns whatsoever.
In such moments, we might even feel an immense relief, knowing that we
will never experience the severe boredom and alienation of living within
an entirely controlled environment. Our awe tells us that we seek tran-
scendence, that we rebel against the prospect of absolute human control.
We are grateful in knowing that Earth's living systems and nonhuman
creatures do not follow any moral norms, certainly not our own. 153
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