Without getting into whether there are or aren't gods, I'd like to do some research on you guys.

Atheists in my experience, without an exception to date, are an environmentally-minded crowd.  They tend to vehemently oppose anything that looks like industrial wrecking of nature, believing as they do that this Earth is the only one we've got and that no higher power will stop us from mortally wounding it.

Many atheists will also bring this up against religion: the whole dominion of the earth, the expectation of the end times and the new earth, the call to be hard-working and industrious, the call to have children (overpopulation), and the idea that god wouldn't allow us to affect the climate, etc. etc.  To many it seems religion has a "whatever, it's all going to be destroyed anyway" attitude.

But I know religious people aplenty, however, who think the Creator is to be seen in nature and NOT in man-made things, and therefore removing the influence of nature from people could be seen as pulling them away from the influence of god.  There are certainly many people of faith who felt called to protect the environment or work in environmental conservation.

How do your beliefs affect your attitude about the environment?

For those of any faith, how does your faith affect your regard for the environment, or does it at all?  For those who in the "this is the only life I've got" crowd, how do you feel about it?  If you call yourself an environmentalist, what is the reason?

Tags: atheism, environment, environmentalism, nature, religion

Views: 1335

Replies to This Discussion

My religion doesn't really affect my environmental attitudes, which is to, you know, not destroy everything. I seem to have had the opposite experience, most atheists I know don't really care for the environment and most religious people I know do(well not necessarily care just would prefer it if we don't go all planet of the apes).

One should be careful of making blanket statements about a population.  I am sure that there are athiests that do not 'believe in' global warming or athiests CEOs who have no difficulty in using and abusing natural resources.  There are also theists that believe in caring for the environment and limiting mankind's impact on nature.

Well, if you're conscious, you have to believe in something.  If not God, the environment will serve.

Since to me the natural world is not a purpose in life, transcendent, divine, or the greatest, most permanent, and worthy thing I will ever encounter... but is my environment, created by Someone I love, beautiful, worthy, and something I am intimately connected with...

...my perspective is to treat it well and try to keep it beautiful, but not to consider environmentalism, or any other ism, to define me as a good person or fulfill my being.

So I can look at environmental issues without much emotional block -- just as you can more easily talk about renovating a house if it isn't the one you were a small child in and have missed ever since and don't want Anything to Ever change.

(Full disclosure:  I do feel the draw of nature, and am thus prone to lean more environmentalist.  Just not as drawn as some I talk with.)

So, for example:  should I be carbon-neutral?  It isn't a virtue in my world view.  I don't see the point:  if CO2 is bad, then shouldn't I be removing it from the atmosphere, rather than trying futilely to have no effect ?  It's an engineering problem, not a guilt problem.

Should the solution to any environmental problem be to use less modern technology?  It might make me feel a connection to my roots, but it's sometimes bad for the environment:  overuse of wood.  Or not:  computer construction makes toxic waste; pencil and paper much less so.

Should I feel good about using fluorescent bulbs in those incandescent slots?  The fluorescent bulbs must be disposed of as toxic waste, and emit mercury vapors; we are warned not to use them too much in enclosed spaces.  If my purpose is to treat the natural world better, they aren't a clear winner.

On the other hand, recycling cardboard and aluminum mean more efficient use of resources and less litter -- so why not?

The bottom line is I don't recycle, bring the reusable garbage bag, and look for good gas mileage to save the planet (it won't), or to feel virtuous (it's going to take more than that!), or to belong to the right group, the group that cares.  I do it because it makes economic sense, if not for me, for someone.  I support the existence of parks and forests (for whatever that's worth) not because I want to save part of the planet from the taint of human contact, but because they're beautiful.  I think my relative lack of attachment makes me able to make better decisions on environmental issues -- I'm not trying to make myself see myself as a little better, but merely to make the world a little better-- two goals that can't both come first.

More on this when I have a chance -- related to The Lost World.

tl;dr above:  I protect the environment, some, but not because it makes me a good person.  It doesn't.

It's not too long.  I always post pretty long.  I read it.  Thanks for your input.  The Lost World is one of my favorite books, if you're talking about Arthur Conan Doyle and not Crichton.

It was the Spielberg movie -- I was going to analyze its assumptions, not recommend it!

I'll only give a tl;dr  version.  The motivations of the characters were a mystery until you got that they were living by a message that seemed self-evident to them:  that humanity is a stain on nature, so that treating it well is way too little.  "All they require from us is our absence."  Wouldn't have occurred to me to ask what man-eating T-rexes need from me!  Or to the T-rexes, who already had an opinion!

In Canada, one of our worst-kept secrets is that the ruling party is against initiatives aimed at protecting the environment and reducing global warming and/or climate change not because it's bad for the economy and the science is inconclusive (their official stance) but because the religious inner core of the party believes that if global warming / climate change is real, it is God's will and there's nothing any of us can do about it. If He wants it to be that way, or if He wants it to change, only He can do anything about it. So the real world effects of this belief is that, under this regime, Canada has pulled out of the Kyoto Accord, has removed 90+% of the previously-protected lakes, rivers and other bodies of fresh water from the protected list therefore opening them up for "economic development", gone full steam ahead on the exploitation of the tar sands at the environment's detriment, etc.

That kind of thinking just makes me face-palm and groan. Here in the States we have the same people. The Fox News watchers and Rush Limbaugh listeners who form the right wing fringe of the Republican Party and the Tea Party. Your comments reminded me of James Watt, secretary of the interior under President Regan. His environmental policy was based on his philosophy that "I do not know how many future generations we can count of before the Lord returns." As stupid as he clearly was, even that kind of bronze age thinking didn't get him fired. After all, it was in lock step with his party. They didn't ask for his resignation until he made the following comment to a group of lobbyists regarding the makeup of his coal-leasing commission: "We have every kind of mix you can have. I have a black, I have a woman, two Jews and a cripple."

You're arguing with a caricature.  Limbaugh listeners, FNC viewers & Tea Party followers typically don't object to 'climate change' (or 'global warming' or 'climate disruption') policy on a theological basis.  They object because they see it as a backdoor global implementation of socialism based on extremely shaky 'science' that many would call an outright hoax.

 

They're just not the "bronze age" thinkers you wish they were.

 

JB

I never said that FNC viewers and Limbaugh listeners are bronze age thinkers.  I was explicitly talking about James Watt.

The science re global climate change is far from shaky and its certainly not a hoax. The only people I'm aware of who still have their heads in the sand on this issue are people who listen to drop-outs like Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck.  Regardless of whether their motivations are religious or political, the fact of the matter is that the consensus of the majority of people who are qualified to even have an opinion on this issue (i.e., climate scientists, as opposed to radio talk show hosts) are in agreement.  

Climate change is mainly a natural occurrence cause by the Earth moving closer than farther away from the sun in its orbit(ice ages happen because of this), humans do have an impact but with humans or not the plane will be heating up.

Well, actually, no.  The earths distance from the sun changes throughout the course of each year.  But the average distance is about 93 million miles, and that isn't changing.  Interestingly, earth is closest to the sun when it is winter time in the northern hemisphere and farthest from the sun when it is summer in the northern hemisphere.  The occurrence of ice ages doesn't depend on the distance between the earth and sun.  They are believed to be caused by the axial precession of the earth which occurs over the course of tens of thousands of years.  

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