Religion and the Environment – A Thought

I don’t consider myself a practicing environmentalist, but I certainly do my part and have deep concern for the current stage of the world, and being a traveller that is inevitable when you see the full beauty of this planet. I also do appreciate the impact that I as a person have on the larger picture (especially those flights).

I get the occasional rut, and then I think that despite my insignificance it is a matter of principal – it’s like what the point of my life is and why am I on this earth? Those questions that don’t have answers, depress you, and make you think what’s the point? But that you go through the motions of life anyway and so I go through the motions of trying my best to help the environment despite the seeming futility of it all. The same goes with my religious belief system and having a more pragmatic view on life instead of worrying about the minute details of tradition and ceremonies rather than the intended goal of spiritual strength.

With that long winded intro in mind, I‘ve always tried to reconcile religion and environment, and I think that is the key to taking a pragmatic environmentalist message to the developing world where religion has such a big impact; but regard for the environment is almost always taken for granted. I find in many places, with a justification, economic and financial aspects supersede any concern for the environment or the future of our planet (i.e. making a living to send your schools to school, even if it means over fishing or hunting).

And so, I always thought that by harmonising the two aspects there could be a real impact here – and say what you will about organised religion, but it has a massive influence on the daily lives of everyday people around the world whether you agree with it or not. So to justify a new way of thinking we need to look at things that mean something to most people.

Long story short we need to reconcile religious support for environmentalism and we might make a real difference where it seems like a patch work of putting our fires at the moment, particularly in the developing world. One positive thing though is if environmentalism is given a religious justification, it can be self regulating – i.e. you don’t have to impose or push hard for people to apply it since religion itself is so influential to them.

So that is the philosophical wordy aspect, but what does it mean on the day to day. Not sure much about most religions but I do justify environmentalism with a religious aspect in the following way (you can substitute God with whatever you think but the underlying principle is the same):

  • How do we know that other living creatures on this planet don’t have souls (where in religious texts does it say they don’t have souls)? And if they do and we kill them aren’t we facing the consequences of killing “innocent souls”?
  • God (so far) may have put us on this one lonely planet for a reason – to manage what we consume within our limitations
  • All living creatures are creations of God
  • “Sloth” is a deadly sin for a reason in Christianity – avoiding excess in anything
  • In the end you are killing all these things presumably to give a better life to your children, but when they go, income and resources go (so does food and survival), and what will your children do then? Effectively you are killing future generations and that in and of itself is a crime.

Any thoughts? Do you think environmentalism and religion are complementary or mutually exclusive?

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