Formation - 11 April 2018

en - Biblical Foundations of Ecology

Mary Cecilia Claparols, R.A.
Biblical Foundations of Ecology

The Christian scriptures, particularly an interpretation of the Creation story in Genesis 1, have been faulted by Lynn White, a cultural historian, as one of the main causes for the whole mechanistic and domination model of relationship between humans and the cosmos. He goes on to say that Christianity, in destroying “pagan animism,” made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects. In his opinion, the texts in Genesis have been used to justify domination and exploitation of nature.

Theologian Denis Edwards shows, however, that White’s claim does not consider the other major contributors to this crisis, including the instrumentalising view of the natural world by the Enlightenment : the concept of an economy based on endless growth, uncontrolled corporations and unrestrained greed.

Biblical scholars also critique such an inadequate exegesis and interpretation of this text and have reread these same texts in a way that honors and supports a God-human relationship that is inclusive of an ecologically sensitive human-nature relationship.

Biblical Texts and the Natural World in our Tradition

Given the breakthrough of research in science today, Carol Dempsey, another biblical scholar, argues that no rereading of Genesis 1-2 can be done without acknowledging the interrelatedness of Creation and the relational view of God toward and within all Creation. Other biblical scholars point out that other biblical texts besides the one critiqued by White support a cosmic vision. Jȕrgen Moltmann, for example, suggests that for a doctrine of Creation, it is necessary to draw on the whole testimony of scripture and not merely on Genesis 1 and 2.

It is important to note that in its early stages, Christianity drew from the scriptures of the Jewish tradition where the natural world is very present. There is also no compelling evidence, according to Donald Senior, which indicates that allegiance to Yahweh leads to a less reverent view of the sacred or spiritual nature of the earth.

For the first fifteen hundred years of Christianity, particularly in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the natural world was integral to theology and appreciated as good and revelatory of the Divine. Despite this long heritage, after the Reformation and particularly with the advance of modernity and for political reasons connected with the censure of Galileo, love of Creation slipped away and eventually was “lost in the Christian Tradition.”

To effect a radical shift in perspective, in this case from a worldview that promotes a sense of separation between humans and the rest of Creation to a consciousness of our oneness and interdependence, it must be demonstrated such a shift can be made in “continuity with our sacred story. And the foundation of our Judeo-Christian story is biblical.

Read more……in “Towards an Eco-Assumption”

En espagnol et en français à droite ci-dessus (pdf)
En español y francés a la derecha arriba (pdf)