The vast majority of tadpoles in the pond above my trailer must die before they mature into frogs. If they don't, the pond's ecology will be thrown out of whack by too many bullfrogs. This kind of situation appears again and again throughout Nature. Therefore, wouldn't a philosophy based on patterns in Nature accept that most innocent humans also must suffer endless indignities, miseries and death as they make way for "the stronger," the "more adaptive," or the luckier?

Not necessarily. It's our genes predisposing us to breed obsessively, to crave high-calorie foods, and seek ever-higher status -- to mindlessly do those things at the root of most of our indignities, miseries and early deaths. Yet, of all animals on Earth, we humans are the only ones able to thoughtfully behave in ways contrary to our genes' programming.

One reason it's hard for humanity to overcome its programming is that all great cultures rest on religious underpinnings, and our religions have arisen in antiquity. Too often they convey the unsustainable patriarchal and tribal mindsets they arose in, plus they always fail to address such modern realities as human overpopulation, overfishing the oceans, and the buying of unneeded things the production of which creates pollution and contributes to global warming.

Maybe an even more critical deficiency of established religions is that especially Western ones promote the notion of a benevolent patriarchal divinity watching over us and prepared to save at least the "good" among us from our follies and bad luck.

That concept is lethal. It's lethal because, at least at a powerful, subliminal level, it encourages us to "pray for deliverance" and to hope that "divine intervention" will save us, instead of our taking responsibility for our own long-term biological survival.

Instead of "Our Father, who art in Heaven," it would be wiser to revere "Our Creator, who makes art everywhere... " the artful Creator being more concerned with abstractions such as the evolutionary flow toward ever-greater diversity, ever-greater sophistication, ever-greater sensitivity, enlightenment and spirituality... than with the day-by-day welfare of individuals, or even individual species.