Nature is Satan’s church


Nature is Satan’s church
– from Antichrist by Lars Von Trier

I listened to an interview with Lars Von Trier where he talks about fear of nature and nature as evil.

It is an interesting topic, and one that is rooted in the cultural distrust of nature in Europe and some other places, and also in our evolution.

From a science view, it is obviously not true. We can say that nature is brutal (although that is also an interpretation), but evil is a moral judgment and nature is a-moral.

Also, we know that what appears brutal to individuals looks quite different from a larger view. Life is born from death at all levels. Death of stars gives birth to new solar systems and all the elements that makes up this planet and ourselves. Death of species gives room for new – and often more evolved – species. Death of individuals gives room for new individuals. Death and eating of plants and/or animals gives life to the one eating. Life – including our own life – depends all around on death. Without death, no life.

And we can even say that what appears as brutal in nature is really (no-nonsense) love. Death of individuals and species is the mechanism that allows for the survival of other individuals and species, and what allows for evolution as a whole.

From a psychological view, seeing nature as evil is obviously projection.

It is a projection of stories – of imagination – onto nature. It is a projection of qualities that are right here, and often excluded from our conscious identity, onto nature.

And it all comes from taking stories as true. Stories about ourselves (I am this, not that). Stories about what our own qualities and characteristics mean (this is good, that is bad). Stories about what nature is (nature is good, nature is bad).

From a spiritual view, we can say that all is the play of God.

It is reality (the Universe, God) exploring itself in always new ways – whether it appears to us as evolution, projections, brutality or any other way.

And from a recognition of no-self, we see that there was never any “I” anywhere that was hurt or suffered. There is what appears as species, individuals, brutality, suffering and so on, and all that appears through an overlay of imagined boundaries and interpretations. But it is all the play of the divine mind, of awake no-thing appearing as something. Inherently free from any I with an Other anywhere. No-one was ever hurt.

And part of that play is temporarily taking it all as real and substantial through taking our own imagined overlay as true. And also to take suffering seriously and do what we can do alleviate it in ourselves and others.

Footnote: A distrust of nature obviously comes from culture, from our interpretations. We have an evolutionary/biological predisposition to fear certain things in nature. This fear itself is innocent, but if we see it as wrong and something that shouldn’t be there, we can go further and imagine that nature is wrong as well – and even evil.

Say I fear darkness, pain or death. I can recognize that fear as natural and understandable from an evolutionary view. It is what has helped my ancestors to survive. I can even find genuine appreciation and gratitude for that fear, and allow the experience of fear as just another experience. But I can also respond to that fear with more fear. I can tell myself stories that makes me fear fear. One step further into confusion, and I make fear wrong. Another step, and I make nature wrong for triggering that fear. And after several steps of confusion, nature suddenly appears evil to me, as it does for some of us – such as Von Trier.


Initial notes….

– lars von trier
– fear of nature / nature as evil
– interesting to explore
– three areas: nature, projections, play of God

– from a science view, obviously not true
– brutal, not “evil”
– life born from death (at all levels)
– evolution = love (appears brutal to individuals at times)

– also, projection
– beliefs, shadow etc.

– play of God
– reality/universe/God exploring itself in always new ways, in as much diversity as possible, through evolution


It comes from taking a story as true, which appears as shadow and projections.

10 thoughts to “Nature is Satan’s church”

  1. You make some very interesting and insightful points; certainly helped me in interpretting the very complicacted messages in Lars Von Trier’s work.

    At the end of the day, humans do project an awful lot and if we take our beliefs/superstitions about existence too seriously it’s all too easy to get seriously confused.

    Thanks for this thoughtful piece of writing.


  2. But isnt it that a-morality of nature, the refference in the frace in question. I bet there are many ways of aproching the relation on nature and evil, alsow the relation of nature and good – like for instance in natural law tought in most universities. – But I think the movie is alluding to nature as desire, the thing that emerges from us involuntarily. – bouth human nature as human desire (feminin desire to be more specific – in a conceptual aproach to feminity as it has been aproached sometimes historically)
    Are not raciona, but passions, impulses. This conceptual relation of feminity and desire, and alsow the suspencion on the social contract of the city, that happens in nature – sort of the same thing that can be interpratated from “the lord of the flyes” – I thinks this is what is being alluded with the frace. — please excuse my english Cheers!

  3. Keep in mind that the movie had strong religious undertones. Good and Evil as quantifiable abstracts exist on Earth in a biblical context.

    If nature is A-moral, then our nature would be a reflection of that, as we are not “outside” nature. That was the point of the movie…
    It wasn’t a fear of nature; it was a fear of herself.

  4. I don’t agree at all. God is not exploring himself through nature. God is love. Nature is dangerous and full of violence, sharks that want to take a bite of you, lions, bears, alligators, deadly weather, insects, plants that conspire against each other and against your life. Nature is fundamentally bad and evil and needs redemption as much as we do. In a ‘saved’ nature, lions would come eat in you hand, no plant or living creature would be dangerous, that’s why ‘giants’ and dinosaurs disappeared, through our love toward God, our world will slowly become a better place. At the end all dangerous cratures will go extinct… or will be renewed.

  5. Hm. All beings are “dangerous”, it just depends on your perspective. A slug is dangerous if you are a lettuce. A cat dangerous if you are a mouse. Humans are dangerous if you are just about any being on this planet today, and also if you are an ecosystem. Again, depending on your perspective, you could see eating other animals and plants as transfer of matter and energy, so it’s neutral, or even an expression of love. Life can be seen as the play of Spirit, in its rich diversity.

  6. Creation is a nightmare spectacular taking place on a planet that has been soaked for hundreds of millions of years in the blood of all its creatures.

    -Ernest Becker

  7. Yes, from the view of individual beings – perhaps colored by a victim mentality (!) – it can certainly be experienced that way. (Referring to the Ernest Becker quote.)

  8. I think it means God versus satan as civilisation versus no rules. Everything that God forbids happens in nature. So when nature is satans church all that is left for God is us and our rules.

  9. Yes, I agree that’s probably where it comes from. I guess it’s the old-fashioned European/Christian view on nature vs (Christian) civilization. Of course, animals and humans in “primitive” tribes are no more cruel than civilized humans. And many of the worst and largest scale examples of insanity, violence, and cruelty are found in Christian civilization (Nazi Germany, WW2, imperialism, colonialism, genocide, ecocide).

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