This is a response to Rama Varma's Blog post "Naturally".
"Natural" is a term that is quite hard to objectify. It is not a static term, and it is heavily dependent upon context and circumstance. Fire is naturally occurring as you pointed out, however, the applications of manipulated fire present their own very troubling issues. Fire is a tool of nature for cleansing and it is extremely rare to be naturally occuring. 99% of of wildfires are not naturally occuring.
Humans are surely a part of nature as you pointed out, but that doesn't mean that everything we do or can conceieve of is natural.
To your point that we are able to adapt to our environment... I need to strongly emphasize the distinction between "ADAPTATION" and advancement/growth. Just because a creature adapts to certain circumstances, it does not mean that adaptation is favorable. In fact, adaptation often degrades a species ability to thrive and jeopardizes the survival of that species. Just take digestion as an example. The human species has gone through a great deal of adaptation in terms of adopting a diet that is radically out of sync with our physiology and our biology. From the secretion of salivary and gastric juices to the production and delegation of pancreatic enzymes, our bodies have developed very clever and effective ways of neutralizing the toxixcity that the average "civilized" diet creates. From generations upon generation of eating processed perverted foods, the average human body has redistributed the majority of digestive activity to the mouth in an effort to strengthen its first line of defense against the pathogenic substances that we consume. The body has also adapted to enlarge our pancreas for the production of an exponential amount of digestive enzymes needed for autolysis. These adaptations are a protective measure that are meant to be employed in times of crisis like famine, drought,or some other temporary natural occurence. These adaptations are not meant to be permanent by any means. Digestion in the mouth is highly ineffective for human species. There is very little digestion possible in the mouth as we only contain very small amounts of the starch enzyme amylase in our saliva which is only meant to break down the unreleased sugars of fruits and vegetables. When our body redirects the digestive energy to the mouth, it is merely attempting to neutralize the harmful elements present in the food but not to catalyze absorption. In fact the opposite is true. Most food items that are heavily processed are unidentified in the body and treated as invasive. The digestive system borrows resources from the imune system and acts upon the invader in an effort to shroud it in white blood cells to be escorted out of the body immediately through the skin, urine, or bile. These processes often result in the creation of putrefactive gasses, acetic acids, and sulphuric acid. When the body enlarges the organs of elimination and enzymatic production, it is adapting to the process of eating foods that are devoid of their own enzymes. All fresh foods contain the enzymes needed for the total breakdown of that particular food. Fruits which are high in sugar contain enzymes like sucrase an maltase. When we process the foods in any way at high or low temperatures, or expose them to oxygen, the enzymes are destroyed. Without the integrated enzymes of the food our body must create the enzymes needed for the digestion of this food. This seems like a very clever and effective method of adaptation, but it is actually quite detrimental to the rest of the body. Enzymes are responsible for every single metabolic function in the body from cell growth to thinking. When we are constantly draining our limited and very finite enzyme reserves we are stealing that energy from the rest of the bodily functions. This reduces our capacity to repair tissue and maintain clean blood and cells. This leads to epidemics of degenrative disease.
Nature is a set of intrinsic and SELF ENFORCING laws or principles. One cannot argue the natural value of something without simultaneously citing the effects of such activities. Anything could be seen as natural in a very subjective way because if something did not ultimately come out of nature, then where could it possibly have come from? The real question is how does it effect the homeostasis of the natural world. Even the most pure natural substances can create catastrophic outcomes when applied without regard for natural law (aka science). Every aspect of behavior must be considered. One of the biggest problems with these types of quandaries is that convention is disguised as "normal". Often times we concede to unpleasant or pathogenic phenomena as neccesary or unavoidable. This removes the possibility of real human evolution and advancement. Disease is the outcome of living outside of the principles of nature. When I use the word nature in this context, I simply mean the optimum way to preserve health and vitality. This can be measure objectively by performance. You make the point that people are the only animals that cook their food and your argument is that other animals have not mastered fire as we have. You imply that perhaps other species would cook if they in fact were able to acheive our mastery of fire. Your theory is valid, however it takes a great deal more than "ability" to prove a natural law. A very simple point I would like to offer is that we are the only species that cooks our food and adapts to our habitats. We are also the only species that shows epidemics of degenerative disease and utter destruction of that very habitat. Getting back to adaptation... we have adapted over many years, many generations to these protective measures, however if one returns to correct physiological living, the functions of the body wil return to normal nearly immediately. Studies have shown that the adaptive measures of digestion will cease just as soon as correct eating is resumed.
You question the nature in the activities you enjoy. You enjoy reading,as do I. However, what is reading other than pondering the expression of another mind and other perceptions. Could we not achieve the same satisfaction from social discussion with a wide spectrum of men and women? Wouldn't this also strengthen our human fellowship and create a more universal dialogue? Don't instruments exist all around us all the time? My didjeridu was made for me by termites in a eucalyptus root. The first instruments were made in nature from only what could be found. Tools are not natural or unnatural. It is the application and intention of these tools that really matters. What is the purpose of the method? What is the thorough evaluation of the outcome? How does it effect every other aspect of our inner and surrounding environments? is there a better alternative that better addresses all of our needs across the board?
Our inventions and "civilized" methods often keep us trapped in the perpetuation of these methods. Why do we have to work at something arbitrary in order to gain a "currency" with which we buy food, clothing, and shelter? Why don't we spend that time and energy growing food, creating clothing (when and if neccesary) and building shelters (when neccesary). Everything that is NECESSARY to our survival comes for free. Our civilized system is failing and is relatively brand new in the scheme of humanity. Our imperialistic desires bring us to uninhabitable climates and force us to violate the principles of nature for our survival. We narcisistically fear the demise of our species which ironically is what most threatens the viability of our existence.
This is the tip of the iceberg in this discussion. The discussion will live itself out in the observance of nature and our place in it. Everything that is, is of nature, and nature will always prove beyond doubt whether or not soething will be sustained.
I conclude my thoughts with this quote:
"We start the resurrection of man by reconstructing the paradise, planting fruit trees, vineyards, and gardens as our new residence. We bring not only a scientific system of healing based on natural laws, but a regeneration, a complete ressurection of the flesh by water, air, spirit, and by the divine food of "God", i.e., fruits."
Prof. Arnold Ehret 1905