Environmental ethics


Environmental issues christian approach

This is about the moral relationship humans have between the environment and animals. 

Humans are the cause of climate change and global warming and this would not be liked by God as he gave us stewardship over this earth. Humanity was given stewardship and this is where God gave the task of looking after the earth to humans.

Conservation is the idea that humanity should protect natural resources and the environment and should maintain them for the future.

Humans are in gods image so we represent God on earth. We have responsibility to look after Gods creation. 

Dominion is where God has given humans authority over everything on this earth such as animals. It means to be in charge of. 

Consequence of sin is where rc believe that original sin makes humans sinful and has a negative impact on the relationship with God. To rectify it we need to take care of this earth.

Creation spirituality is that humans are part of creation and god is found in it so must take care of it

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Challenges to the christian approach

White said Christians are to blame for environmental issues as the bible asserts mans dominion on this earth over nature. The fact that god made only humans in his image implies the rest of the creation is soulless and inferior.

White says Christianity is responsible for global warming, climate change, pollution etc because it supports the exploitation of the natural world.

St francis of aussi is a saint of ecology as he lived in nature and was close to it. He was always portrayed with animals and nature is Gods creation and being close with it brings you close to God. He shows being a good steward and conservationist.

Not all denominations support environmentalism. Some evangelical christians thinks life really starts when we are in heaven and heaven will replace earth so what is the point of protecting it.

They make is seem anthropocentric meaning only humans have intrinsic worth. Michael la bossier suggets it can be justifed as part of the natural order of evolution which makes it acceptable.

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Secular approaches to environmental ethics

Deep ecology was advocated by Arne Ness and it says humans and non human species are equal and that nature has intrinsic value. All living beings have worth despite its utility.

He says we need to radically reduce the earths population, conserve diversity of species, abandon the goal of economic growth, live in small self reliant communities and minimise our impact on the envirnoment. Nature is sacred and we should live in harmony with it.

Ness called this improvement of earth ecosophy. We should move away from anthropocentric (believing we are more important) ideology and to more holistic.

The Cornwall Alliance believes deep ecology leads to pantheism where the quality of the divine is in everything. Anthony weston thinks deep ecologys universal principle is wrong and thinks institutions need to change from the bottom up.

Shallow ecology mostly focuses on conservationism. Values the environment but doesnt give it intrinsic worth. It has instrumental value instead eg. Biodiversity needs to be maintained because plants provide essential medicines.

This does not take into account the value we give to the nature and the environment.

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The gaia hypothesis and eco holism

The gaia hypothesis is the idea of gaia comes from the greek goddess of the earth who is believed to be intrinsically part of the planet. It was created by James Lovelock in the 1960s. 

Symbiosis is the mutually beneficial relationship between two things where they are dependent on each other and Lovelock says non living and living things live in a symbiotic way. If we abuse gaia we risk our own lives. She owes us nothing but we owe her our existence.

Lovelock argued eco holism which is the belief that all ecosystems and living things are dependent. We shouldn't be anthropocentric, but biocentric to allow Gaia to restore balance after the imbalance caused by humans. 

People like Aquinas and Descartes believe animals don't have souls, but people argue we still have a duty of care to prevent unnecessary suffering. However, main arguments for preserving humans are that humans are starving and are more important than animals and the death of animals is less important than the death of a human.                                                                  Peter singer insists that animals have intrinsic value as they can feel pain and pleasure and so are objects of moral concern and should be protected. We dont kill and experiment on babies or adults in a coma, so we should have the same respect for animals. Speciesm is assuming humans are superior.

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