Jamieson on


(role in causing and solving env. problems)

pp. 20-25


1.      Lynn White’s “Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis” argued that :

2.      Env crisis is fundamentally a spiritual and religious crisis

3.      A rejection of both economic and technical explanations of env problems

4.      It is people’s beliefs, values, and commitments that really matter

5.      “Ideas have consequences”

6.      Source of this crisis is the exploitative attitude toward nature in the dominant strand of the Christian tradition

7.      “Christianity is the most anthropocentric (human-centered) religion world ever seen”

8.      Bible quotes that support this interpretation

9.       Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness". . . So God created man in his own image . . . and God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

10.    In Christianity, God became man in form of Jesus

11.    This is anthropocentric! (= human centered)

12.    A blasphemous idea to Judaism and Islam, which are “theocentric” rather than anthropocentric

13.    For both religions, God utterly transcends the world; as radically distinct from humans as from nature; God made them but they are not divine

14.    In Buddhism and Hinduism, divinity is manifest in all living things (not just humans) and goal of spiritual practice is often to realize the divinity within oneself

15.    One might call these religions Pantheism (divinity in everything)

16.    All these other traditions reject the anthropocentrism at the heart of the dominant form of Christianity

17.    Christian anthropocentrism gave rise to development of modern science and technology

18.    Which are attempts to manipulate and control nature for human benefit

19.    “Science and technology are themselves expressions of the dominant tendencies within Christianity”

20.    Science and technology have a central causal role to play in env crisis but the cause that underlies them is Christian anthropocentrism

21.    The new forms of plowing, irrigation and logging that arose in the late medieval period were developed and adopted

22.    Because of the new philosophy coming out of Christianity that nature is there to be managed by humans for human benefit

23.    While true that env. problems serious in non-Christian parts of the world,

24.    Christianity is still responsible because even there it is the science and technology Christianity spawned that is causing the problems

25.    Environmentally friendly minority tradition in Christianity

26.    Represented in 12th century saint, Francis of Assisi

27.    Sees human transformation of the earth as expression of the sin of pride

28.    For a modern day expression see Wendell Berry, "Christianity and the Survival of Creation"

29.       With Pope Francis, it is not so clear it is a “minority” tradition anymore!



31.    Jamieson is a pluralist about the nature, causes and solutions of env problems, which he thinks are multi-dimensional

32.    Economic, technological, religious and ethical approaches are all useful and needed.

33.    Env. problems have an important ethical dimension

34.    Env problems challenge our ethical and value systems

Questions on Jamieson on Religion and Environment

1.      Jamieson argues that Christianity is anthropocentric in a way in which other religions, including Judaism, Islam and Buddhism and Hinduism, are not. Explain why he thinks this. Explain how these other religions view the Christian idea that God became man.

2.      Jamieson considers 3 possible types of causes and solutions to environmental problems. Identify the three. Which one does he think is the root cause and the one which is relevant to solving environmental problems? (Trick question)