Bill Scott's blog

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Rain falls on the just and the unjust alike

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A while back, The Economist's Erasmus column carried a feature article on a clutch of Islamic scholars joining the chorus of religious voices calling for the planet to be cooled.  It quotes some apposite verses, and ends with this:

Of course, one of the troubles with religious and inter-religious talk about the environment is that it can easily sound pollyanna-isa.  There is a huge incentive to play down differences and stress commonalities across religions, and between the world of religion and secular environmentalism.  Secular environmentalists often find religious eco-talk too anthropocentric; some secular environmental sceptics probably find it insufficiently anthropocentric, in the sense that it sentimentalises nature.  In any case, is it honest or convincing for people, religious or otherwise, with very different ideas about metaphysical matters to stress how much they agree on the fate of the earth?

In defence of ecumenical greenery, the very nature of environmental challenges gives a certain integrity to eco-religious discussions.  Rising sea levels, melting glaciers and expanding deserts will affect everybody, regardless of what they believe.  The intensity of that effect may vary according to how much money people have to protect themselves from environmental change, but it will not, as far as we know, affect Hindus, Christians, Muslims or atheists in different degrees.  As a verse in the New Testament puts it, rain falls on the just and the unjust alike. To that extent, it surely behoves all schools of religious and non-religious thought to think hard about the fate of the earth and to talk to one another.

One trouble with scripture tends to be the existence of verses saying diametrically opposite things: witness Anglicanism's continuing problems with sexuality and the priesthood.  On low-lying ground, clerical thinkers may well still be arguing about such matters when the waters lap over their feet.

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