Ecological theology

I find myself writing things that somehow seems to fit into the general category of “ecological theology.” But what do I mean by “ecological theology”?

Since I’m in the Western religious tradition, one starting place for this discussion is the Bible, Genesis 1.28, where God tells the first humans that they have “dominion” over all other living beings; that they are to go be fruitful and multiply and “subdue” the earth. Words like “subdue” and “dominion” have been interpreted to justify all kinds of ecological destruction. In the context of Western religious traditions, the job of ecological theology is to re-interpret our religious tradition (to use the phraseology of Rosemary Radford Ruether) so that our tradition isn’t being used to justify ecological destruction.

But that’s just one starting place.

2 thoughts on “Ecological theology

  1. trojjer

    But aren’t we just animals that have evolved the intellectual capacity to ask these questions about our environmental responsibilities?

    On that topic, I find it funny when people ask, “So you REALLY believe that we evolved from apes?”

    A lot of the time I get into the debate by stating the “common ancestor” theory, along with the evidence with regards to how genetically similar we are to certain species of primates; and how only humans, alongside certain species of monkeys and dolphins, use sex for pleasure and not always reproduction. Of course I do acknowledge that there are plenty of “missing links” in the theories though, but I think that scientific process and debate in light of evidence that is constantly being renewed and challenged by research, is better than relying on scripture that is thousands of years old. It just seems irresponsible to me, to have the “faith of a child”* when it comes to important aspects of knowledge and understanding.

    * It actually made me think of indoctrination when an American tourist — who came to England as part of an evangelical church group in order to set up an “Illum-A-Nation” rock concert in my area — said that you could only achieve salvation through such “childlike faith”. Anyway…

  2. Dan

    Trojjer — Yup, we’re just animals that have evolved the intellectual capacity to ask these questions — and to seriously impact the overall condition of the environment by our actions. So the point of ecological theology is to get people to act as if God is not going to bail us out by some deus ex machina plot twist.

    The real issue here is that while scientific research is incredibly useful, it has not proved particularly effective at changing people’s behavior. Religion, on the other hand, has been somewhat more effective at changing people’s behavior. So from a pragmatic viewpoint, it makes sense to do ecological theology, because confronting people with scientific facts about global climate change and habitat destruction has not decreased petroleum consumption.

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