RELG 270 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Ecotheology, Lynn Townsend White Jr., General Idea
Course CodeRELG 270
Relg 270 Midterm Study Guide
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Main Arguments (slides): The Eco-Crisis is caused by the idea of material-technical “progress”
and “mastery” rooted in Western Christian thought. “Since the problem is essentially religious,
the solution must be as well.”
● Lynn White Jr (1907 – 1987)
● 1869 “eco-crisis” term coined
● Ecotheology emerged on global scale
● Religion: long tradition, most texts don’t mention environment or ecosystem
● White’s article created much controversy, coverage stating that the eco-crisis was due
to Western Christian thought of material-technical “progress” and “mastery”
● Problem = religious
● Solution = religious
Natural theology – neutral science – human ability to control
“unholy matrimony”; with science, application and control
Later changed mind
● In the western monotheistic religions, there was, until recently, a general consensus
that we should never forget that nature was God’s creation. (God’s Property) and not
● Our excessive use of natural resources could be explained by the distinction between
humans and nature. When it is not so clear (e.g. every living things) it leads to more
● Buddhism→ reincarnation as an animal possible
● Hinduism→ entire universe is God
● as we witness the environmental harm, we also lose ethical confidence in humanity’s
● effects: global climate change, wastes (chemical, heavy metal, biological, nuclear), loss
of topsoil, crisis of biodiversity, loss of wilderness. devastation of indigenous people.
unsustainable patterns + quantities of consumption. genetic engineering.
● nature is transformed in “the environment”. describes environment as “nonhuman world
whose life and death + future prospects, are in large measure determined by human
● we still depend on nature for food and water, air + minerals but ecosystems largely
depend on some political arrangements for protection. They (every living thing) are
affected by man-made climate change, impartation of exotic species, habitat loss and
● earlier ecological problems were local, today’s are global.
● Anthropocentric religions have been blindly supportive of progress -->more science,
● Nowadays, religious leaders have become more concerned and sometimes are political
and ecological activists.
● Some may suggest that humankind would be better off if religion, like sex, could be
practiced by two consenting adults in private.
Genesis Creation Accounts:
● Judaism & Christianity
● Makes up first 2 chapters of the Book of Genesis
● 1st part: God creates the world in 7 days
○ Light & darkness --> separates the two into "day" and "night"
○ Water & sky
○ Land & Plants
○ Moon, stars, etc.
○ Fish & Birds
○ Animals & Man
○ God rests on, blesses, and sanctifies the 7th day
● 2nd part:
○ God creates the first man from dust & breathes life into him
○ God places him in the Garden of Eden and creates the first woman from his rib
as a companion
● Genesis affirms monotheism & denies polytheism
● Man is created first, then animals, then woman
○ Man seen as a reflection of God
● 2 sources: J & P
○ Themes of P:
■ Humans are "very good", everything else is seen as "good"
■ Sexes are created together
■ Vegetarian diet for all animals
○ Themes of J:
■ No scheme of days
■ Man created from dust
■ Woman created from man's rib as partner
■ Animals are "for" man
● According to the Genesis, Noah and his family survived the Flood. When they left the
Ark, God made a covenant with them, he would never again destroy the Earth with a
flood if humans respect 7 laws (Seven Laws of Noah or the Noahide Laws).
● All humans, as descendants of Noah, are subjected to those laws.
● Bilateral agreement between humans and God: God won’t flood the world again and
humans will abide by 7 basic priesthoods.
● The Seven Laws of Noah:
○ Do not deny God
○ Do not blaspheme God
○ Do not murder
○ Do not engage in incestuous, adulterous or homosexual relationships
○ Do not steal
○ Do not eat live animals
○ Establish courts/legal system to ensure law and obedience
dominion ● Genesis states that God has given human beings dominion over all living things.
● Dominion is interpreted as stewardship/guardianship - living things are to serve
humanity. But human beings, as part of their dominion, are required to look after all