The Ecological Impact of Christianity

The topic of ecological crisis and the impact humans have had on the environment is one that’s gained much attention in the last decade, but viewing it in religious terms was something I had never considered before. White’s argument in The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis caused me to reconsider the consequences of popular religion. He claims that Christianity influences all individuals in the west, even those who don’t actively practice it, to adopt an outlook that establishes humans as superior to all other life on Earth. Despite the fact that the number of people who practice Christianity is dwindling – if only slightly – the impact of Christianity is admittedly still prevalent. I can only speak for the American west coast from experience, but there are definitely visible influences of Christianity. We can see it around the Holidays, when most people still refer only to Christmas, and I could see it around my small hometown in the way that everyone automatically assumes others are Christian. Now, in saying that Christianity has a large impact on society, it isn’t definite that those impacts are always negative or detrimental. In terms of its ecological impact, those who actively participate in Christianity and deeply study its teachings can often be seen doing volunteer work around their communities to try and reverse the impact of humans on their surroundings. So, when asserting that the underlying consequences of Christianity being a popular religion have caused humans to view themselves as superior to animal and plant life, it might be more appropriate to say that the misconstrued beliefs of Christianity have caused this.

Chapter 2 of Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ seems to have a direct argument against this same idea that White proposed. He contends that those who closely follow the word of God will see that God intended for humans to have dominion over Earth, but to also live in harmony with the Earth and its creatures. In living on Earth, humans have a responsibility towards nature. With this in mind, I believe that, like White said, the problem to solve humanity’s view towards nature should be solved in religious terms, but rather than encourage everyone to turn away from Christianity, there should rather be an effort to teach that humans don’t have any jurisdiction over nature, and that we must make a change to our subconscious view on our relationship with the Earth if we want nature to have a chance at surviving.

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