Photo: An abandoned church in a mining town
in Oregon that was deserted after the mine closed.
According to Lynn White in her article, “The Historical Roots of the Ecological Crisis,” the word ecology did not appear in the English language until 1873. This was during the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, which introduced a litany of new issues and questions into society that are still being addressed today. At the core of these issues, we must challenge the conception that humanity has sovereignty over the Earth. According to both of the class readings, theological belief may have part in humanity’s lackadaisical attitude toward the environment. While Christianity may have encouraged a dominion of humanity on Earth I don’t think it’s accurate at say, as White does that Christianity is at the helm of the ecological crisis. I don’t deny either that there is something to the attitude of entitlement that surrounds the ecological crisis that seems latent in some aspects of religion. As White points out, Pagan traditions were more outright considerate of the environment while Christianity seems to put the Earth completely at man’s disposal. That said, I think it’s important to raise the following question: Is the attitude of human dominion that theological belief (consider Catholicism especially) has encouraged responsible for the ecological crisis? To what extent has science teamed with this aspect of theological belief in its pursuit of industrial and technological advancement? Also consider the opposite—are scientists who are searching for ways to help the environment operating under theological ideals or are they following a moral compass devoid of religious influence? Does science need some aspects of theological belief be motivated to save the planet?