Christianity is the Problem
In Lynn White Jr.’s article, The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis, he brings up the idea that the “Judeo-Christian” tradition was the cause of our ecological crisis. After carefully reading this article I have come to the conclusion that Lynn White Jr. was correct about this statement. Human beings are constantly creating changes to the environment and that the Earth was a resource of human consumption. When White Jr. talks about the creation story he argues that, “God planned all of this explicitly for man’s benefit and rule: no item in the physical creation had any purpose save to serve man’s purpose,” (White Jr., pg. 1205). He explains that because man named all of the animals, he was establishing his “dominance over them” and a trend of anthropocentrism. Christianity also makes the distinction between human beings, which are created in God’s image, and the rest of creation that are considered to have no soul or reason. Therefore, any parts of creation besides humans are known to be inferior.
Lynn White Jr. points out that there is an indifference towards nature and it continues to impact our world today. If we attempt to apply more science and technology to the ecological problem it will not change or make a difference. In order for us to help what we have destroyed, we must not continue to have superior attitudes concerning nature that make us inconsiderate in our uses of nature. Humans need to learn to not take advantage of creation in everything that we do. Although Christianity does not seem to give much concern about all of creation, there are Christians that do emphasize the importance of protecting it. St. Francis of Assisi, the “patron saint of ecologists”, practices the belief that all creatures are respected and man’s rule over creation is restricted. Lynn White Jr. suggests that we should take on his beliefs when taking care of the Earth because how we are treating it now is disrespectful and harmful.
Unlike Lynn White Jr., David Kinsley looks at how Christianity has been both ecologically harmful and helpful in his novel Ecology and Religion. Kinsley focuses on the desacralization of nature, domination of nature, and the degradation of nature and matter. Nature became “demystified” and formed the idea that nature is completely “nonsacred and passive, fit to be controlled and manipulated by human beings,” (Kinsley, pg. 104). According to the desacralization of nature view, the Bible developed a view of the world that believes in a “transcendent deity” who creates the world but does not take the time to believe that the world is sacred or holy. Because of this view of nature, Kinsley declares that Christianity did not stop the descralization of nature or the scientific and technological manipulation of nature. Referring to the domination of nature view, the Bible places human beings against nature, therefore, making human beings in control of and superior to nature. Kinsley shows that the Bible portrays the world as created predominantly for human beings.
Lastly, in the degradation of nature and matter view the primary theological concerns are about God and saving our souls. Kinsley states that, “The world, the earth, nonhuman forms of life, and nature generally are subsidiary concerns, at the least, and are denigrated at worst,” (Kinsley, pg. 106). Kinsley believes that human beings are unique and are considered to be spiritual beings, unlike any other creature on the Earth. Because all other creatures are nonspiritual beings, they are simply “material beings” who do not have a soul. In Genesis I, God says, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.,” (Bible translation, pg. 3). Adam and Eve are not even given the animals to eat, but only the plants and fruits for food. It can be easily argued that we were never meant to even use animals for food, but for companions. Also, all of the plants were given to us for food, but we were not supposed to tear down all of its trees for unnecessary usage. Nothing in the Bible says that we are allowed to mistreat God’s creation, but human beings are continuously doing so anyways.
This passage from Genesis does give humankind the right to rule over all of the creatures that live in the sky, sea, and land. Through all of the readings, I can conclude that the Bile has a couple of different interpretations and understandings. I never really looked that much into detail about the importance of respecting the Earth, but I have always known that I could not purposefully destroy it. All of the activities that I partake in my daily routine lead up to the destruction of the Earth and all of its creations. I do not think that Christians are taught as much as other denominations that all of God’s creatures are meant to be loved. Both David Kinsley and Lynn White Jr. argue that Christianity is the main reason for our ecological problem.
Christianity puts human beings first above all other creatures because God was known to have made them in his image and likeness. Because these other creations were not made in his image and likeness, they do not have a soul. Humankind has taken this belief to a whole new level when mistreating the creations because they believe they have dominance over them. I will say it again, that I do agree that Christianity is the problem, but it is not the only problem. There are many steps that human beings can take to fix our ecological problem and we must all figure out what those steps are in order to mend our mistakes.