Environmental Religion: A Theological Critique

30 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2013 Last revised: 5 Dec 2013

See all articles by Robert H. Nelson

Robert H. Nelson

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy

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.

Suggested Citation

Nelson, Robert H., Environmental Religion: A Theological Critique (March 10, 2004). Case Western Reserve Law Review, Vol. 55, No. 1, Fall 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2211873

Robert H. Nelson (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - School of Public Policy ( email )

College Park, MD 20742-1815
United States
301-405-6345 (Phone)
301-718-4377 (Fax)

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