It doesn't have anything to do with what humans think of themselves, though. It's not arrogance in the usual sense. It's a lack of foresight, a lack of thinking for the greater welfare - what happens when each individual acts like the human they are. People use the resources, crowd out the animals, etc. because they can, not because they think they're more important. They probably aren't giving a thought to their importance vis a vis animals.
Humans are a weedy species. We evolved to scramble for our survival, flexibly.
We have arrogated to ourselves the right to total dominion
Hm. Dictionary definition of arrogate: take or claim (something) for oneself without justification.
What humans do could be called "arrogating" with respect to future generations.
Although we don't know what future generations will need, at least in energy terms - what sources of energy they will be using.
When you talk about humans driving other forms of life to extinction - where does your sense of the justification that is lacking, come from? Justice is a concept that usually pertains to interactions among humans.
If an imported plant or animal drives a native plant or animal to extinction, is the imported species arrogating? No: it's just doing what it evolved to do. So are humans.
Human arrogance in the form of claims of dominion over all the earth goes back to Genesis 1:26
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
You find this notion of dominion clearly expressed on the website of the Institute for Creation Research:
All cultures have acknowledged the superiority of man over all other animate life, life forms, and inanimate objects in nature, as reflected in the dominion mandate assigned to mankind by God. Man's authority over animals, plants, and the rest of the earth has changed history through the use and consumption of animals (livestock, riding horses, fishing, etc.) and plants (timber for wood, crops for food, etc.), as well as the physical environment (diverting river water for irrigation, harnessing wind power for sailing and windmills, using rocks for buildings, etc.).
In addition, all societies have a spoken language of abstract thought and concepts. Human communication is very different from anything observed in animals. Why? Mankind knows he is the proper creature fit to rule the earth. This makes sense only if man was created to be morally superior to animals, plants, and the earth.
I believe this attitude has found expression in legal decisions on environmental matters such as the preservation of endangered species. One surprising place to find it is Humanist Manifesto III: Humanism And Its Aspirations:
Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. [My emphasis.]
The bit about the global ecosystem appears to have been tacked on since the syntax is opaque.
Genesis is one one of the most arrogant examples of all human fiction. I am often uncomfortable with some of the things claimed by people who consider themselves "humanists." I would not want to live in a world devoid of the variety of life that is all around us...even the pests.
(One of my favorite SF writers made the statement that even if everything else became extinct, as long as humans survived, he would consider it a good deal. I would consider it dreadful. And boring.)
Quoting Genesis 1:26 there Dr. Clark we find that god said "let US make man in our image." The present day theist thinks this is a reference to "father, son, and holy ghost" which they sneaked into the big book much later. This god was Elohim and many want to say it was only one of the many names of god. The truth is Elohim was not a single deity. Over the years in early history of what we now call the Old Testament there were many gods. Jahweh (some say Jehovah) was a very jealous god and you should put no gods before him. This alone was proof of the many gods, some being tribal or for a certain purpose. Were all these gods real? Jahweh thought they were real. I would suppose they were all about as real as he was.
Michael, you are right; I think "Elohim" is the plural form of "El."
IMO gods are (and have been) the worst inventions of mankind.
Elohim (pronounced el oh heem) is a plural form of El. Theists take El to be just another name of god. El is not a singular name.
Theists seem to have many, many problems with languages, names, and meanings of same.
My sister has been a "Jehovah's" Witless for about 45 years, and she still doesn't "get" the fact that "YHWH" is NOT pronounced "jee-hovaaa."
I learned about "El & Elohim" in one of James Michener's novels when I was in high school...was one of the triggers that started my doubts, research, and eventual atheism.
As far as I know "El" was a phallus-shaped rock....
However people have practiced agriculture and in other ways exerted control over nature so far as they could, since ancient times and independently of Christianity. Even Native Americans did this. Many mammals went extinct after humans came to North America. It's how humans evolved to relate to the world. That approach evolved because being unscrupulous was successful.
Humans are a "weedy species" and being unscrupulous is part of being "weedy".
As long as there aren't too many people, being unscrupulous works.
Needing to abandon or modify unscrupulousness and other traits that worked for many thousands of years, is one of humanity's biggest challenges. We need to take the longterm view, when our instincts lead us to defend our immediate self-interest.
The idea of God giving people dominion doesn't imply a disregard for other species, because controlling can be done to care for other species. When people create preserves for endangered species, they're trying to control that species' environment so it will do better.
Also, many of our lives are very easy, compared to the lives of people in the past and people in less affluent countries. Those people who came up with the passage and attitude in Genesis had much harder lives than we do. Making accusations of arrogance about people who were struggling to survive is judging them as if they were not struggling to survive.
"Having dominion over nature" is a reassuring fantasy even now. Back then, it was much more so.
People of the days when the bible was written were very harsh, with few benefits of technical skills and training to alleviate some of the common stressors of life. It, therefore, is even more reason to not use Bronze Age traditions and scripture for modern Homo sapiens.
If humans are to have dominion over anything, it should be over their own lives. Dominionism is an excuse to exploit and manipulate all of nature, including other humans. Slavery was authorized by both the new and old testament.
These days "Dominionism" also means making the United States into a xian theocracy in time for Jesus' "return." Michelle Bachmann (and her fake psychologist husband) is a prime example of what the Oral Roberts University Law School turned out when it was still in business. Dominionist attorneys. Dog only knows how many there are out there making anti-human laws, and waiting for their mythical rewards.
ps "Arrogative" is the adjective for someone who arrogates.