Is Religion the solution or the cause of Our Ecologic Crisis?

The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis, by Lynn White, Jr., comments on the union between science, technology, and man’s interpretations of religion. It proposes that the current state of our ecologic crisis stems from those three ideas. When describing the advancement of how humans plowed fields for agricultural use, White highlights how these new ideas were geared towards exploiting nature rather than being a part of it. Old methods like cross-plowing were gentle compared to new methods that were more violent and disruptive. These new methods made it easier to not only turn the soil but to also farm much greater areas of land. The progress in science and technology that she describes had been influenced by Christian beliefs in man’s relationship with nature. With this in mind, she draws the conclusion that Christianity in and of itself, tends to affirm man as a dominator of nature. The solution to our crisis, therefore, can not be found by applying more science and technology. We must first redefine the relationship between us and the natural world, unattached from Christianity. 

Pope Francis shares his own beliefs in Laudato Si. He argues that it is clear God wanted man to be both cultivator and caretaker for nature and our fellow man. While we can use it for our own subsistence, to take anything more than that is beyond our discretion. It is also our God-given duty to maintain the natural world for the next generations, for they too will require its resources. Pope Francis urges us to recognize our existence as one not only created by God but to exist by his side. By devoting ourselves to faith convictions we can provide ourselves with the motivation needed to fulfill our duty. He quotes the stories of Cain and Abel and of Noah to further his argument. In both cases, God sees a lack of justice and so he delivers punishment. To truly maintain justice we must also watch out for the more vulnerable peoples around us.