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  •  I think religious people can certainly be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exMnLiberal

    environmentalists, but I don't think it can really come from religion. In fact, the opposite is more prevalent in the bible. The old testament pretty much claims that everything was put on earth for humanity, and talks constantly about burning animals as sacrifices. Perhaps environmentalism can be brought into religion, but I doubt it can originate from religion.

    •  I'm not religious, but the idea of creation care (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dufffbeer, koNko, dirkster42

      makes a tremendous amount of sense to me.  If god created purple majestic mountains, then isn't it a kind of desecration to strip mine them?

      Healthy Minds & Bodies, discussing outdoor adventures Tuesdays 5 PM PDT

      by RLMiller on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:04:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is an argument a lot of evangelicals get too (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        koNko, dirkster42, RLMiller

        There's even a group devoted to this point of view, the Evangelical Environmental Network:

        The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate, inspire, and mobilize Christians in their effort to care for God's creation, to be faithful stewards of God's provision, and to advocate for actions and policies that honor God and protect the environment.

        EEN's work is grounded in the Bible's teaching on the responsibility of God's people to "tend the garden" and in a desire to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to follow Him. EEN publishes materials to equip and inspire individuals, families, and churches; and seeks to educate and mobilize people to make a difference in their churches and communities, and to speak out on national and international policies that effect our ability to preach the Gospel, protect life, and care for God's Creation.

        "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

        by mbayrob on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:30:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

          I read about these people and am quite interested in their philosopical viewpoint but could not remember who they are.

          I'm not a Christian, but these are Christians with a very positive and progressive orientation.

          Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

          by koNko on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:40:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  That turns to not be entirely correct (5+ / 0-)

      even for the account in Genesis.  That account also says that humanity is enjoined to "keep and replenish the garden".  The creation myth of Hebrew scripture approaches the natural world both from the perspective of dominion and stewardship.

      It's also wrong, I think, to take animal sacrifice as a counter example.  Life -- all life -- belongs to G'd in the biblical view, and animal sacrifice is a very mindful taking of animal life in dedication to the Divine.  In Jewish teaching, killing an animal for food is a form of animal sacrifice, and it is done with a clear recognition that in taking life for food, we are taking something that does not belong to us.

      Certainly, there are many reasons to be an environmentalist, and even a person who approaches nature with a sense of wonder and awe can do so from an atheist's perspective, if not a mystical one.  But as a movement, environmentalism has benefited a good deal from approaching communities of faith and showing to them how preserving the earth can resonate with different kinds of religious teaching.

      The Earth needs all the friends it can get.  Any argument we can make to people that persuades and has resonance is worth making.

      "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

      by mbayrob on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:19:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm sure that there are passages that can be (0+ / 0-)

        interpreted to advocate for environmental protection, as there are many against such protection, and some that go both ways. To sort it all out I think one would have to take their own morals and the evidence they have seen outside of religion to come to one's ideas on the environment. These non-religious factors would lead to one's interpretation of controversial scripture. So in the end I think the religious environmentalism does not come from religion but from one's ideas derived from other sources melded into their religious interpretation.

        •  You can drive it both ways (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          koNko, A Siegel, dirkster42, Unenergy

          Think of it this way:  as people that care about the Earth, we want to persuade as many people as we can to share our concern.

          For some people, religious language is an effective way to do this.  That great evangelist, Saul Alinsky (!) said that you should approach people from their own experience.

          Still, you should not assume that the topic of preserving nature is a new one.  People have been screwing up their environment for a very, very long time.  And as a result, it's been discussed by people from a variety of cultures and in many ancient texts, including in the religious texts of many traditions.

          "If another country builds a better car, we buy it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. If they have better healthcare . . . what's our problem? "

          by mbayrob on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:41:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm skeptical that any of the old testimate was (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            koNko

            written with any goal of environmental protection in mind. It seems much more about promoting the wishes of the tribal leader in power at the time different parts were written. However, if people can be moved by the verses to try and protect the environment I'm all for it. I'm skeptical over how much of this drive for environmental protection actually comes from the scripture though.

            •  Then you should talk to believers (0+ / 0-)

              Or you will never be free of the speculative, circular arguement you are making.

              I'm skeptical over how much of this drive for environmental protection actually comes from the scripture though.

              You cannot answer this, only one motivated by scripture (or whatever) can. And then they will convince you or not depending on your perceptions.

              Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

              by koNko on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 08:14:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  The same could be said for politcs. (0+ / 0-)

          And all the doctine it entails.

          And then there are the cases of other religions that are directly centered on the concept of harmony with nature and yielding to it as the means to attain enligtenment or happiness, and your arguements fall flat in such cases.

          I'd love to hear you argue this with a Daoist Monk who tend to rival Jesuits when it comes to rigorus logical arguements of philosopical concepts; both are famous for rejecting unquestioning belief in doctrine and for winning debates with all comers.

          I could be fun and enlightening.

          Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

          by koNko on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:50:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  and animal sacrifice is a very mindful taking of (0+ / 0-)

        animal life in dedication to the Divine.

        What an absurd comment.

        Flied the Flag on 1/20/09.

        by exMnLiberal on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:40:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Ech. (0+ / 0-)

        Certainly, there are many reasons to be an environmentalist, and even a person who approaches nature with a sense of wonder and awe can do so from an atheist's perspective, if not a mystical one.

        More to the point, "even" (ugh--note the implication the religious are better suited to environmentalism than anyone else) a person who approaches environmental policy with a sense of human value, or indeed self-preservation, can be an environmentalist.

        "Wonder and awe" and religion are demonstrably neither necessary nor sufficient to cause people to support environmental protection.


        Any argument we can make to people that persuades and has resonance is worth making.

        If so, the blanket religious privilege is probably a bad idea, at least in a community that includes plenty of nonbelievers.

    •  Depends on how you read it. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Siegel, dirkster42

      Different religions have devised several different ways of interpreting the Bible, and, in fact many if not most are greatly attenuated from the literal statements made in certain English translations of the Bible.

      Judaism in general, and Jewish Renewal in particular (the denomination that is running the convention the guy is attending), are committed to environmentalism as a religious tenet as part of "tikkun olam" or repairing the world, which finds its origins in the teachings of the rabbis, not in the Bible.

      Live from the ochlocracy of California.

      by Attorney at Arms on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:27:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tikun Olam (0+ / 0-)

        Or more specifically, Tikun HaOlam (the "Ha" prefix is equivalent to the English "The"), appears in the Mishnah in Gittin. It actually refers to changes that the rabbis made in Jewish law in order to better society, not to environmental issues.

        Environmental protection is absolutely consistent with traditional Judaism. But the source for it is not from Tikun HaOlam.

        All my IP addresses have been banned from Redstate.com.

        by charliehall on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:20:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No, that is incorrect (4+ / 0-)

      The Old Testament/Hebrew Bible claims all of creation is for God's glory, not for humankind. Humans are stewards of the earth, and the Bible is fairly consistent that humankind has a moral obligation to respect the earth as God's creation. The idea that the Bible says we dominate over it is based in biased interpretations and translations, largely stemming from human-centric Enlightenment thinking that heavily influenced the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. But ancient Hebrews were more of the mindset that the earth didn't really belong to anyone, except God. They believed that humans were merely guests here, "borrowing" for a short time what was ultimately God's. In the Hebrew Bible there is a lot of emphasis on accepting this relationship with God and his creation with humility, especially in the Psalms. That's why they sacrificed animals--those animals belonged to God. Humans weren't entitled to "keep" them for simply their own needs and wants. And humans weren't privy to use any animal either--some were strictly off limits, according to God's law. Yeah, it's primitive thinking--these were Bronze Age people after all--but it certainly wasn't as human-centric as you assume.

      As for the politics of environmentalism, I think religion needs to take a healthy backseat. I am not comfortable with inserting a religious prerogative too widely into the overall politics of environmentalism because, at least for the Abrahamic faiths, our moral obligations to the environment begin with the concept that it's God's creation, something that is not universally held by all parties in this discussion. But individually, we religious people ought not find any incongruity between our faith and environmentalism.

      -8.50, -7.64 "In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer." - Camus

      by croyal on Wed Jul 01, 2009 at 10:42:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not true according to the traditional Jewish (0+ / 0-)

        perspective.

        The universe was created for us to enjoy and use. But not to destroy. I've never seen anything in traditional Judaism that says we are supposed to dominate or exploit it beyond reasonable human needs.

        The reasons (or lack of reasons) for the animal sacrifices have been discussed extensively in Jewish sources and there is no consensus. I personally find the opinion of Maimonides compelling; he says that they were a concession to the times, that people were so used to them that it would have been impossible for people to worship One God without some kind of sacrificial service. Whether he would argue that a third Jewish Temple should therefore not have animal sacrifices has been extensively debated.

        All my IP addresses have been banned from Redstate.com.

        by charliehall on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:24:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Religion != Bible. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rieux, thethinveil

      The Bible is one religious text among the many texts of those religions that are textual in orientation.  And, it's used in WIDELY different ways among those who read it.

      •  Concur. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dirkster42

        And, it's used in WIDELY different ways among those who read it.

        Indeed so--but that counsels a mite more humility among the theological liberals around here who continually sneer at conservative interpretations. (Which is not to say you, AFAIK.) No?


        (By the way, I understand you and I are both acquainted with a certain litigator in Alabama. So D.D. told me to say hi.)

    •  OK, what about relgions other than Christianity? (0+ / 0-)

      I'll agree the Bible provide the grist of as many conflicting arguements as you have time to argue, but some religions with a stronger and more simple phiosopical base are centered directly on the concept of harmony with nature.

      Daoists, for example, strive the find the right place and yield to nature.

      Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

      by koNko on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 07:35:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But (0+ / 0-)

        [S]ome religions with a stronger and more simple phiosopical base are centered directly on the concept of harmony with nature.

        Where a religion is "centered" is very much in the eye of the beholder. Cherry-picking partisan interpretations of a religion that you happen to like is not sufficient evidence that that religion--the real, on-the-ground, believed-in-by-millions-of-people system--is a net positive for ecological action. Nor does it show that Zasloff is wrong.

        And, indeed, what "harmony with nature" means is an extremely open question. Is, say, damming up a river "harmonious"? Beavers do it. Or: all living organisms expel waste. Does that make dumping toxic waste into rivers "harmonious"? The ideas you've appealed to fall far short of resolving such problems.

        •  OK then (0+ / 0-)

          The religions and central philosophical concepts I cited are valid; if you dispute this please elaborate.  If we are going to fall back on retorical argements of relatvisim here the discussion becomes meaningless and will end.

          I did not "cherry-pick", I cite multiple examples that argue against the unsubstantiated general conclusion Zasloff makes following his dissection of one (count it, one) example. You might consider warning Zasloff about your rules.

          Beavers damming rivers is pretty harmonious with nature; to my knowledge, these industrious little beasts deal with the natural consequences of rising water and branches that break, and their constructions do not seem to result in global disruptions of ecosystems. Worms burrow undergroud and it helps to ariate soil; if you think that's unnatural, reform their behavior, please.

          Did I say dumping toxic waste is harmonious?

          Where a religion is "centered" is very much in the eye of the beholder. Cherry-picking partisan interpretations of a religion that you happen to like is not sufficient evidence that that religion--the real, on-the-ground, believed-in-by-millions-of-people system--is a net positive for ecological action. Nor does it show that Zasloff is wrong.

          I make no generalized claims that any religion, political parties or any other group has a net benificial impact. What I suggest is that some religions may provide individuals practicing them a philosophic basis or motivation to support environmentalism, no more or less. The mere fact that others in any of these groups might not does not negate the effect of those that do. Your retorical polarization of this debate is irrelevant and unconvincing.

          Do you exclude the potential of relgion to play a positive role in environmental movements?

          If someone motivated by religious belief makes a positive contribution do you reject it merely it contradicts Zasloff's conclusions?

          Care to venture your own opinions?

          Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

          by koNko on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 12:07:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

            The religions and central philosophical concepts I cited are valid....

            Oh, they're "valid." Well, then. Glad to have that cleared up. Guess there's no point in questioning something that's simply "valid."


            If we are going to fall back on retorical argements of relatvisim here the discussion becomes meaningless and will end.

            I did not "cherry-pick", I cite multiple examples that argue against the unsubstantiated general conclusion Zasloff makes....

            I confess that I'm not familiar with the "retorical [sic] argements [sic] of relatvisim [sic]." I merely note that, out of the myriad viewpoints and religious conceptions of the nearly 400 million Buddhists (and 4 million Shintoists, etc.) in the world, you have arbitrarily selected the conceptions that "are centered directly on the concept of harmony with nature." That is not Buddhists' unanimous understanding of Buddhism; and the practice of selecting perspectives on a diverse phenomenon that agree with your own while ignoring contrary perspectives is called "cherry-picking."

            (An outspokenly Christian Kossack makes a similar point about the impossibility of arriving at an objective definition of Christianity in this diary. What she has to say about Christianity applies just as readily to every other belief system in the world.)

            I don't for a moment doubt that the "concept of harmony with nature" is indeed important to significant numbers of Buddhists, Taoists and Shintoists. But to blithely declare that one concept maps uniformly onto the other, diversity be damned, is both factually inaccurate and rhetorically fallacious.


            Then, your severe misconceptions about Zasloff's argument have been addressed adequately above.


            Beavers damming rivers is pretty harmonious with nature; to my knowledge, these industrious little beasts deal with the natural consequences of rising water and branches that break, and their constructions do not seem to result in global disruptions of ecosystems.

            But on what grounds do you decide that those facts support the conclusion that beaver dams are "harmonious with nature"? The lakes created by beaver dams kill off many organisms (such as land animals whose habitat is displaced by the lake) and promote the increased population of others. Are those the "natural consequences of rising water" that the beavers deal with? How? On what grounds do you contend that the consequences of beaver dams are not "global disruptions"? Does that mean that if I'm satisfied that dumping toxic waste into my local lake will only affect that lake, and not the "globe," I'm just as innocent as a beaver? Where does this notion of "global disruption of ecosystems" as a test of "harmony with nature" come from? For that matter, in light of the fact that beaver-dam lakes kill some organisms and promote others, exactly what does "disruption" mean?

            The point of the above paragraph is to try to bring to your attention the brand-new unspoken criteria you have imported from goodness-knows-where (it seems doubtful that you consulted Buddhist, Taoist, or Shinto doctrine to conclude that disharmony requires "global disruptions of ecosystems"). The vague concept of "harmony with nature" is not enough to answer a simple question about the ecological status of beaver dams; how exactly is that concept supposed to provide us the details of a cap-and-trade bill?


            What I suggest is that some religions may provide individuals practicing them a philosophic basis or motivation to support environmentalism....

            Fine. It would be nice if you recognized that Jonathan Zasloff has no quarrel with that point whatsoever.


            Do you exclude the potential of relgion to play a positive role in environmental movements?

            Do I "exclude" it? Honestly, I can't say that I care a lot what motivates a particular person to participate in any worthwhile effort, ecological or otherwise. But sure; I don't doubt that people's own understanding of their motivation to do Thing X, regardless of what X is, can include religion. Religion is extremely malleable that way.


            If someone motivated by religious belief makes a positive contribution do you reject it merely it contradicts Zasloff's conclusions?

            Madam/Sir, you haven't the foggiest acquaintance with Zasloff's conclusions.

            •  Confused, much? (0+ / 0-)

              I'll let you decide for yourself if beavers and their behavior are natural or not, I'm not confused or conflicted about the subject at all.

              I understand Zasloff's essay and conclusions; I think otherwise.

              Celebrate diversity.

              Ask me about my daughter's future - Ko

              by koNko on Thu Jul 02, 2009 at 05:00:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, your confusion seems to be lessening! (0+ / 0-)

                I'll let you decide for yourself if beavers and their behavior are natural or not, I'm not confused or conflicted about the subject at all.

                No, it sure looks like you're starting to see the light, as your upthread reference to "additional information" (ooh--"harmony in nature"'s not enough all by its lonesome, is it?) attests. Socrates FTW!


                I understand Zasloff's essay and conclusions; I think otherwise.

                That's the most honest self-criticism I've seen from you yet: a 180-degree change of heart in the space of one semicolon.

                The latter you has the better of the argument, though I do think your "understanding" is indeed growing--uncomfortable as that's becoming for you, in light of the way you're realizing how badly you've mistreated Jonathan Zasloff today.

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