Posted by: buckleyr | May 10, 2009

Eco-Friendly Atheism

I was perusing some of the news articles on cnn.com, when I came across a section that I thought to be quite pertinent to our topic of the New Atheism. Cnn.com has a feature where people can email in a question, and anyone can answer it. Generally, the questions have multiple responses from different people.
The question that struck my attention was “Which religion do you believe offers the most guidance on environmental matters?” A couple of the answers claimed that no religion is eco-friendly, but rather a non-theistic view is the most environmental. In fact, one of the replies sounded like something a New Atheist might say: “The world environmental situation will only improve if religion is abolished.” These readers usually claimed that religious conflict puts as much strain on the environment as industry and construction. Furthermore, they claimed that because Christians believed that God would make everything new again, we should not worry about the environment. Unfortunately, a Christian wrote back and confirmed this belief!
I don’t really remember us talking about this issue too much in class, but I find it to be an interesting one. What are our world religions doing or teaching to encourage us to become more aware of our environment? As Christians, we generally believe that God created this world and that it is good, so therefore we should take care of it and appreciate its beauty. Still, maybe I am just completely out of the loop, but I do not often hear of a religion actively making any sort of statement to help support with environmental efforts. I would be interested in seeing what others think about this issue.

Here is the link: http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/10/01/your.emails/index.html?iref=newssearch

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Responses

  1. This is certainly an interesting issue to think about it. I don’t want to speak too much about what the Christian community or religions are doing or not doing to help the environment but look from a broader perspective.

    It has been clear to me throughout my Asian Spirituality class with Fr. Coutinho that many Eastern religions are extremely eco friendly (maybe due to the region?) but Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and to an extent Taoism, have respect for all of life’s creatures, even down to insects and kill no living thing. While this doesn’t address larger matters like global warming and the like, it does point to the fact that these religions respect the animals that God put on the earth and are doing more for respecting than environment than people may know. I think it is an absurd claim that all religions as a whole produce more environmental problems than construction and industrialism, especially the religions of the east.

  2. You don’t really hear ‘go green’ from the Sunday pulpit, do you? I think one of the most interesting facets of this whole green movement is its trendiness. I’ve noticed that many implicitly theological views are heartily endorsed in the secular community without making any kind of theological claims. Movements to fight AIDS or poverty or the use of child soldiers in Africa are what come to mind first – being socially aware has become cool. But beneath the celebrity endorsements and trendy t-shirts and ‘Plastic ain’t my bag’ bags, there is a serious theological message: these issues matter because they are about respect for members of God’s creation – God’s people, God’s animals, God’s planet. As far as which religion addresses them most, or best, or anything like that, I think it’s fair to say that most theistic faiths are focused on humanity first and creation second. Whether or not we should view this as selfish, I’m not sure. It seems logical that human beings made in the image of God should take precedence, but that shouldn’t mean the environment should be used and abused in the process.

  3. I am very glad that you posted this. It reminded me of my paper from last semester in which I tried to use Trinitarian theology to provide a way to encourage conservation and ecology. Some of the arguments that you have shown that are believed to be reasons why Christians have caused such great harm to the environment are the very arguments that I tried to refute in my paper. Seeing this made me feel better and not as if I had been on a wild tangent for my paper. This is an issue that is really believed about Christians and may hold some truth.


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