Environmental Religion: A Theological Critique
30 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2013 Last revised: 5 Dec 2013
Date Written: March 10, 2004
Environmentalism offers a broad critique of the moral standing of contemporary American society. It sees wide abuses of the natural world, many justified in the name of a competing religion of economic progress. Environmentalism substitutes a new moral criterion of “natural” versus “unnatural,” as against the progressive economic moral understanding of “efficient” versus “inefficient,” both secular substitutes for the traditional Christian moral judgments of “good” and “evil.” In these and many other respects, environmentalism has become an important new religion in American life. As such, it has its own “secular theology” that informs and sustains its religious views and judgments. This theology, however, is usually not spelled out explicitly, remaining instead in the background as a powerful implicit – and thus partially disguised – set of assumptions, factual observations, methods of reasoning, and finally logically derived environmental conclusions. This paper unpacks this implicit theology that underpins contemporary environmental religion.
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