A Marriage between Secular Ecological Science and Rational, Compassionate Faith


  • Carolyn M. King



The global environmental crisis is a challenge for all humanity, one whose likely consequences have long been described by environmental scientists. Over the last decade, secular activists have urged religious organizations to be, or become, involved in the world-wide effort by all thinking people, of any faith or none, to find workable ways to avert the various possible disasters predicted. The World Council of Churches (through its programme on ‘Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation’) and the international Anglican Communion (through its Fifth Mission Statement), among others, have responded. As they stand, however, pronouncements of these and similar bodies comprise an incompatible mixture of contemporary scientific and religious environmental concern set against a biblical background that had no such concern. The intellectual basis of Christian concern for nature as beloved of God is not at all the same thing as the concern of secular environmental ethicists for the intrinsic value of nature in and for itself. Still less is it anything to do with the ‘production of a conservation output’ (Hartley 1997: 481), advocated by market-oriented economists. Church-based environmental activism would be less effective if it worked independently of secular environmental agencies, yet such a partnership introduces contradictions between secular concepts of nature conservation for its own sake and traditional theological understandings of creation as to be valued for God’s sake. Therefore, public exhortations by religious organizations, taken at face value, are unlikely to succeed, especially if addressed to secular audiences.



How to Cite

King, C. M. (2001). Ecotheology: A Marriage between Secular Ecological Science and Rational, Compassionate Faith. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 6(1), 40–69.