In a recent radio programme the following exchange took place:
Jane Little's Introduction: “The Government’s former Chief Scientific Advisor, Lord May, has called on religious leaders to play a bigger role in helping to tackle climate change. The Peer said religious groups could use their influence to motivate believers on green issues and suggested that the belief in hell and a punishing God might spur them to action. Well joining me now to discuss the role faith groups can play are Chris Goodall, Green Party candidate for Oxford and Abbingdon West at the next election, and author of “How to Live a Low Carbon Life”, and by Martin Palmer, Secretary General of ARC, the Alliance of Religions and Conservation”.
Jane Little: "Martin, this fear of eternal damnation would be a good motivator to save the planet wouldn’t it"
Martin Palmer: “No, I don’t think so and in the 25 years or so in which most of the major religions have been very active on environmental issues, something that Lord May perhaps hasn’t noticed. What they have focused on is not fear, and sin and guilt, we have rather left that to the environmental movement. What they have focused on is celebration, empowerment, abundance and joy. Because if we go into an issue like this with a notion that if you can scare people into morality, you will discover what every religion has discovered, which is that that lasts for a very short period of time. Whereas if you speak to people, say in the Christian tradition or the Daoist tradition about partnership, both with the planet and with the Divine, then you’ve got something that is long lasting. It is slightly worrying that aetheists always want the very God that they want us to reject, ie angry, domineering, stroppy God and then they get very cross with us when we say that that is not actually the God we believe in.”
Thanks to Nick Jones for this link.