The Greening of Religion Hypothesis (Part One)
From Lynn White, Jr and Claims That Religions Can Promote Environmentally Destructive Attitudes and Behaviors to Assertions They Are Becoming Environmentally Friendly
Keywords:Lynn White, Jr., religion and ecology, religion and nature, religious environmentalism, religious naturalism, dark green religion, environmental behavior
Lynn White, Jr.’s “The Historical Roots of the Ecologic Crisis”, which was published in Science in 1967, has played a critically important role in environmental studies. Although White advanced a multifaceted argument most respondents focused on his claim that the “Judeo-Christian” tradition, especially Christianity, has promoted anthropocentric attitudes and environmentally destructive behaviors. Here, in Part One of a two part study, I demonstrate that White was not the first to make such an argument and then analyze how White’s article precipitated efforts by religionists and scholars alike to uncover, or invent, pro-environmental interpretations of many religious traditions. I then label subsequent claims the world’s religions are becoming more environmentally friendly “The Greening of Religion Hypothesis” and argue that this cultural history of the post-White ferment sets the stage for a much-needed empirical testing of this hypothesis, which is taken up in Part Two of this study.
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