The End of Nature

by Bill McKibben

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Why does McKibben analyze the story of Job and discuss the idea of God in this chapter?

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The End of Nature is a nonfiction book by Bill McKibben. The thesis, or central argument, of the book is that the exploitation of nature is one of the most critical issues of modern times. In The End of Nature, McKibben describes nature as an ethereal realm and the embodiment, or extension, of God. McKibben uses several biblical references and symbols to articulate this sentiment.

These religious analogies are used to illustrate the tension between human civilization and the paradise-like realm of nature. In fact, McKibben compares the natural world to the Garden of Eden; a place that is ecologically and symbolically pristine, as well as set apart from the flaws of human nature.

In the past, nature had been seen by transcendentalists, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, as independent from human affairs. However, McKibben argues the opposite; nature is not immune to human pollution, depletion, exploitation, and general degradation.

In the chapter where McKibben references the Book of Job, McKibben uses the biblical story to illustrate the hubris and privilege of human beings. In the story of Job, God says to Satan that Job is the most righteous man, and that Job's goodness cannot be penetrated by Satan's corruption. However, Lucifer argues that Job is only good because God has given Job abundance. Job lives in a land called Uz, where he has a massive flock and he raises his large family. Uz has blessed Job with everything he needs to survive and to make a living.

In the same vein, modern-day humans have taken advantage of nature's abundance and reaped wealth from the land without giving back to the earth. Like the story of Job, if it weren't for natural resources, humans wouldn't have timber to build homes, minerals to create metals, and water to survive. By referencing the story of Job, McKibben emphasizes the miraculous quality of nature and why it is important to protect it.

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