Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020): 81-95.
ISSN: 1583-0039 © SACRI
RELIGION IN THE
FACE OF THE
Abstract: The reality that there is an environmental crisis confronting the planet and her peoples is indisputable. The crisis can be seen in the forms of climate change, atmospheric and marine pollution, deforestation, desertification, drought and famine, resource wars and conflicts, etc. In spite of the many governmental efforts, scientific and technological progress of humankind, the crisis continues unabated. This paper argues that in combating the environmental crisis, the role which philosophy of ecology and religion can play should not be overlooked. Philosophy of ecology and religion may not be the only panacea to the environmental crisis, but they can make contribution. The paper uses critical analysis and hermeneutic methods. Hermeneutics will be used to interpret the concepts. There was also a rational analysis of the role of philosophy of ecology and religion in resolving the environmental crisis. The paper finds that there is an environmental crisis taking place on planet earth. The paper concludes that philosophy of ecology and religion has a role to play in resolving the crisis. With this done, there will be a more ecologically sustainable planet.
Key words: philosophy, philosophy of ecology, religion, religious ecology, environmental crisis, earth, sustainability, science, ethics, and environmental ethics.
Mark Omorovie Ikeke
Delta State University, Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy, Abraka, Nigeria
E-mail: [email protected]
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 82 1. Introduction
One of the most pressing concerns facing humanity is that of the state of the environment (Curry 2006). Deep concerns about environ- mental problems can be traced back to the early 1960s. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring that chronicled the devastating effect of pesticides (1962), the call of the Vatican II fathers of the Catholic Church for engagement in humanity’s plight, series of conferences in the 1970s by the World Council of Churches on ecological sustainability, the formation of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth in 1971, the emergence and coming into being of environmental ethics in the 1960s led by figures like Holmes Rolston III and others, and the rise of environmentalism have all provoked deeper interest in environmental concerns.
The concern of this paper will be on how a philosophy of ecology and religion can help in abating the environmental crisis. To carry out the purpose of the paper, the reality of the environmental crisis was presented, followed by examination of the meaning of philosophy of ecology. When that has been done, the paper will look at religion and religious ecological resources. The role that each of these can play is examined next. The role of philosophy of ecology and religion will be examined in one section since both should collaborate.
2. What is the Environmental Crisis?
The fact that there is an environmental crisis is well attested by many authors and sources (Rajagopalan 2011, Gottlieb 2006, and Ip 2010). The reality of an environmental crisis is undeniable. Thomas Berry irrefutably states that: “Our industrial economy is closing down the planet in the most basic modes of its functioning. The air, the water, the soil are already in a degraded condition. Forests are dying on every continent. The seas are endangered. Aquatic life forms in lakes and streams and in the seas are contaminated. The rain is acid” (1988, 72-73).
What then is the environmental crisis? To define environmental crisis, it is important to define environment. Environment refers to air, land, water, and the surrounding of all animals and plants, non-living or living and the natural surroundings of human persons (Stranks 2008).
Everything surrounding an organism affecting the growth and development of the organism is known as environment, inclusive of the air, soil, water, etc (Rim-Rukeh 2009). The environment is the whole global system inclusive of the earth’s atmosphere, its fauna and flora as well as the climate (Hook 2008). The environment is important for human sustainability and survival and also that of other organisms. The environmental crisis refers to the tumultuous problems that humanity has
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 83 plunged the earth and her people into, which are presently threatening human and non-human survival on earth.
Environmental problems threaten human existence and the entire earth. This is why all resources, philosophy of ecology and religion, etc have to be mobilized. A few words on four environmental problems are in place here. These four are climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and overpopulation. A major feature of the environmental crisis is climate change. The emission of greenhouse and other poisonous gasses into the atmosphere leads to warmer temperature and precipitate climate change.
The emission of greenhouse and other poisonous gasses comes from combustion of fossil fuel, agricultural, land and industrial activities and leads to global rise in temperatures.
Another environmental problem is deforestation. Deforestation re- fers to “the systematic and large-scale cutting down of trees for wood or to use the land” (Hook 2008, 64). Deforestation has a lot of grave effects on the earth and its people. As trees are cut down, it affects climatic conditions on the long run. It contributes to soil erosion and destruction of drainages. The habitats of birds and animals are destroyed. In the process of cutting down trees, vital plant species are destroyed. While there is deforestation in which local people cut down trees for wood and domestic use, the most drastic one is commercial logging.
There is also the problem of biodiversity loss. There are species of plants and animals that have gone into extinction in world history. Many are still endangered as a result of industrialization, urbanization, and deforestation. It should be noted that: “Biodiversity, and the benefits it provides, is fundamental to human well-being and a healthy planet.
Despite ongoing efforts, biodiversity is deteriorating worldwide and this decline is projected to continue or worsen under business-as-usual scenarios” (United Nations Environment Programme 2020, 6).
Overpopulation has also contributed to the environmental crisis. As population is growing at a very rapid rate human beings need more resources to sustain themselves. Overpopulation precipitates struggles over natural resources. More forests have to be cleared to accommodate human population growth. The more population growth the more human are entering into forests inhabited by vital species of plants and animals.
Many of the causes of the environmental crisis are anthropogenic.
They are caused by human beings. The human ecological footprints on earth are much and by and large have been devastating and harmful to the environment. In spite of previous efforts by the United Nations, non- governmental bodies, and environmental movements much more still need to be done. This is where philosophy of ecology and religion need to be discussed.
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 84
3. What is Philosophy of Ecology?
Though there are different definitions of philosophy, “basic to most definitions is the admission that philosophy is critical thinking, which leads to the knowledge of all things through their ultimate causes”
(Makumba 2005, 27). Philosophy seeks the truth in reality in a critical rational manner and is never dogmatic as all things are open to critical reflection. Maritain writes that: “Philosophy is the highest of all branches of human knowledge and it is in the true sense wisdom. The other (human) sciences are subject to philosophy, in the sense that it judges and governs them and defends their postulates. Philosophy on the other hand is free in relation to the sciences, and only depends on them as the instruments which it employs” (1981, 81).
The term, “ecology” was coined in 1866 by the German biologist who saw it as: “the body of knowledge concerning the economy of nature, the investigation of the total relations of the animal both to its inorganic and organic environment; including all its friendly and inimical relation with the animals and plants it comes directly or indirectly into contact” (Matur and Madara 2007, 8; Haeckel 1866). The term “ecology” is from two Greek words, oikos (household, house,) and logos (discourse, study) (Matur and Madara 2007). Though Charles Darwin did not use the term, “The distinctive subject matter of the science of ecology was first identified” by him when “he recognized that the struggle for existence that was the engine behind natural selection was, although extremely complicated, amenable to scientific investigation” (Cooper 2009, 240). Ecology studies interrelationship among living organisms and the physical environment that constitutes their habitation (The Ecological Society of America 2020).
Those who define ecology in a restrictive manner limit it to non-human organisms and their interactions with the environment, while those who define it broadly see it as including human beings and their relationship to the environment (Vladykova 2015). The vital connections and relationships between plants, animals and the environment that they dwell are at the heart of the ecological study. Ecology is concerned with the entire ecosystems while ecological study is aimed at understanding their relationships to foster a healthy environment. From its definition, ecological knowledge postulates the oneness of life and interrelatedness of all organism and things in the universe.
What then is philosophy of ecology? Philosophy of ecology is understood to be a branch of philosophy of science, a subset of the philosophical enterprise. It is properly a philosophical discipline and ought to be studied as such. It is critical reflection on ecology from the vantage point of philosophy. It is concerned with the ethical implications of ecology, human relationship to non-human aspects of nature, and applicability and reasonableness of ecological sciences. The philosophy of ecology in its broad sense, “convergences with environmental
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 85 philosophy” and in its narrow understanding is a branch of the philosophy of science under philosophy of biology; and in the narrow sense it deals mainly with two types of questions: “(1) epistemological questions about the manner and degree to which ecology meets the general standards of successful science, as classically specified in twentieth-century philosophy of science, and (2) foundational questions about the discipline’s deep and guiding empirical presuppositions”
(Cooper 2009, 263).
Vladykova writes that the domain of philosophy of ecology depends on the definition of ecology either in the restrictive or broad sense. If it is defined in the traditional way purely as a biological science then it is only concerned with methodologies and conceptual problems with regard to populations, ecosystems and societies. But if it is defined in the broad sense it includes the problems associated with human and social ecology (2015). This paper adopts the broad definition of ecology, in which philosophy of ecology “converges with environmental philosophy”
(Cooper 2009, 263). Human beings are part of ecological studies. Human beings are part of the earth, the environment and nature. Human beings are the most influential animals (organisms) on earth in terms of ecological impact.
Ecology is a science and philosophy of ecology is a humanistic discipline. These two dimensions should not be forgotten. Realize that: “In the broadest sense, philosophy of ecology is the philosophical enquiry into (a) ecological phenomena; (b) the scholarly disciplines studying these phenomena” (Vladykova 2015). There are reasons why philosophy should be concerned about ecology in the broad sense. In their, Instant Notes on Ecology, “pollution and global warming,” and “The ecology of agriculture”
are listed as topics for study (Mackenzie, Ball and Virdee, 1998). These are issues among others that philosophy should not be silent about. In the face of all these threat to life on earth, ecology should not be a neutral science but should act for ecological care. This is where philosophy of ecology should question and probe the ecological sciences.
4. Conceptualizing Religion and Religious Ecology
The vantage angle to enter this section is to define religion. There are many competing definitions of religion. All shall not be defined here. The term, ‘religion” comes from the Latin words-ligare meaning to bind, relegere meaning to unite or link and religio meaning relationship (Omoregbe 1993). Religion is concerned with relationship with another power (often higher) or with ultimate concerns. Another definition sees it as teachings and prescribed practices regarding ultimate or sacred realities demanding the reverence of the adherents aimed at salvation and transformation here and hereafter (Taliaferro and Marty 2010). Some
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 86 examples of religions are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, African Traditional Religion, etc.
Today, more than ever before, there is what could be called, religious environmentalism, religious ecology or green religion. Religious persons are attempting to reclaim eco-friendly aspects of their religion to foster environmental care. Though some have claimed that some religious worldviews have led to environmental destruction (White 1967), the concern here is with the positive role that religion can play. There is a growing field of study now known as “Religion and Ecology.” This field has been greatly helped by “Religions of the World and Ecology” conferences organized from 1996 to 1998 by Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim and hosted by the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions (Grim and Tucker 2014; Taylor 2009).
Some religions will be presented here to see the religious ecological resources that they can offer. The Hindu religion affirms only “One Reality,” Tat Ekam who is the origin of all things with a multiplicity of gods/goddesses. Brahman is the “One Reality” from which everything manifests. The world, the earth, the planet, the environments and the organisms are expression or aspects of the divine reality. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanisad as cited in Crawford, “The essential self or the vital self in man is the same in the elephant, the same as that in these three worlds, indeed the same as that in the whole universe” (Crawford 1989, 33). Everything in the universe is interlinked and interconnected.
The universe is God’s body. Through the law of karma and rebirth there is continuity in life between that of humans, plants and animals and eventually they will arrive in the Supreme Being.
Hinduism teaches non-violence towards creation. The earth and the entire environment is not stuff, objects to be exploited rather they are to be respected (Hill, Knitter and Madges 2002). Hinduism calls for moral restraint as exemplified in the life of Mahatma Gandhi and there must be a balance between economic and environmental needs (Coward 2010). The point should be reemphasized that, “Hinduism views us as having duties not only to humans, of whatever time and place, but also to animals, plants and elements of the environment, all of which are taken to be God’s body and therefore has intrinsic value. Since the atmosphere is also seen as a valuable part of God’s body, pollution of it in ways that lead to global warming are not acceptable to Hindu ethics” (Coward 2010, 93).
Buddhism can also make a vital contribution to saving the earth.
Buddhism affirms Four Noble Truths-Life is filled with suffering (dukkha) and pain; suffering (tanha) is caused by selfishness and greed; we stop suffering by stopping greed; and to stop suffering we follow Buddha’s Eightfold Path (Hill, Knitter and Madges 2002). In Buddhism, all reality is interrelated and this interrelationship should be respected. For the Buddhist school of Hua-yen there is no hierarchy in the cosmos, no center, nor some God (there is no God) or man (Coward 2010). Greed and
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 87 selfishness that has caused a consumerist culture and have produced environmental problems such as exploitation of the earth have to be conquered. Buddhism also affirms a karma-rebirth cycle that sees continuity in the life of human beings and plants (Coward 2010). Because of the interrelatedness of all realities, everything affects one another.
Human behaviours have implications for the environment. The universe is not apart from human persons. The Buddha taught as follows: “...to exist in any sense at all means to exist in dependence on the other, which is infinite in number. Nothing exists truly in and of itself, but requires everything to be what it is” (Cook 1989).
Islam is another religion that can promote environmental protection. Islam affirms an almighty God called, Allah, who created the universe and placed human beings as his vice-regents on earth. Human beings are to submit to Allah as God’s khalifa (vice-regents) on earth. True jihad is to struggle against the evils of selfishness, ecological greed, social injustice and all that offends against human beings living as God’s khalifa.
Islam is a religion that affirms the world and sees human beings as God’s agents to act on behalf of God. In Islam, the world is not a fallen place as taught in the Christian doctrine of the Fall of man
In speaking of the role of religion, Judaism should not be left out.
Judaism affirms the beauty and goodness of creation (Genesis 1:31). After God created all things he saw that it was very good. He placed human beings on earth to cultivate creation and guide it (Genesis 2:15). The goodness and grandeur of God is shown through the universe (Psalms 19:10). In the Judaic scriptures the land is central to Israel’s faith. Various laws such as the weekly Sabbath, Sabbath year and the Jubilee year all affirmed the necessity for the land and all in it to rest. Righteousness and justice permeate the message of Israel’s prophets who warned against exploitation of the land and the poor. It is important to remark that Judaism rejects nature worship. God the creator is the owner of creation (Leviticus 25:23). Coward has noted various strands of Judaism that indicate environmental protection. They include the fact that from Deuteronomy 20:19, Israel’s army is not to attack fruit trees. Segal interprets this verse as: “prohibition of bal tash-hit which extends the ban on wastefulness to include foodstuffs, clothing, fuel, and water, or any other useful resource” (1998, 4 & 8). The Kabbalist viewpoint asserts that God created all things to live in a miracle of co-habitation and dependence on one another in the present and for future generations demanding human beings live in consideration of other realities (Schorrsch 1992).
Flowing from Judaism, the Christian religion believes in a created universe. God created the world and entrusted it to human beings to take care of and not to exploit. Erroneously humans have misused the biblical texts in Genesis 1:26 to practice domination and exploitation. It is important to clearly understand this verse. It has been the subject of much controversy. Pope Francis comments on this verse that it does not mean
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 88 domination but rather stewardship and care for the earth (2015). God is spiritually and sacramentally present in nature. Though there was a fall, nature has been redeemed in Christ. Christ incarnation into this world makes the world a holy place and in his resurrection all things have been renewed in him.
Native American religion also affirms the sacredness of the earth.
Earth is one family and all creatures are kins. For the Native American like most other indigenous peoples, culture, life, and all reality are interrelated and form one community. Native Americans were made up of various people. They believed in the Great Spirit or Mystery whom the Sioux call, Wakan Tanka. The northern Algonquins call him Manitu, while the Iroquois call him, Orenda. Native Americans saw themselves as part of the earth and God’s stewards on earth not owners. The Great Spirit permeates all realities and the earth is to be cared for and protected not exploited. All things are carriers of the vital force of the Almighty. There is no dichotomy between inanimate and animate, all things are animate and have life (Brown 1973). Writing of the aboriginal idea, Callicott says, “Not only does everything have spirit, in the last analysis all things are related together as members of the one universal family; born of one father, the sky, the Great Spirit, and one mother the Earth herself” (1989, 186).
This is equally akin to the idea in African traditional religion in which the vital force or spirit is present in all things. All of life is to be respected.
Human can make use of the things of nature in thanking and gratitude to the creator. African religion encouraged a life of hospitality and sharing and “the need for reverence before the beauty of life” (Maguire 2000, 47).
Totemic practices in African religion like other indigenous religions indicated human intimate relationship and link with other animals and plants. The land was owned in common and it belongs to the Almighty.
The land is not to be exploited or misused as in some communities it was considered a goddess, the source of all life (Ejeh 2008).
In the midst of the environmental crisis, religion has a social responsibility. Authentic religion can empower people to heal the earth and her people (Hill, Knitter and Madges 2002; Parliament of World Religions 1993). It is painful to note that despite all these great ideas and values people have not always lived them out. Non-compliance with the implications of these values and ideas does not negate these values. “They ought to be recovered and reclaimed. The religions of the world are great symphonies of hope. And hope gets things done” (Maguire 2000, 128).
5. The Role of Philosophy of Ecology and Religion/Religious Ecology
It can be argued that: “Solving of environmental problems in the modern world is impossible without scientifically based knowledge about
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 89 the system of social-nature interactions” (Goncharov et al 2019, 1). The ecological sciences are needed for “without the careful and collaborative research of thousands of scientists around the planet we would be virtually blind to the state of the environment and our effects on it. We would be unaware of such macrophase issues as global warming or species extinction and we would no doubt, be unaware of a range of issues such as pollution and its effect on health” (Tucker 2009, 3). Ecological knowledge is relevant to policy making. Brenner cites David Inouye, the President of the Ecological Society of America who in 2015 averred that, ““With newly developed tools, analytical methods and models to forecast the future of the world’s environment, ecologists can inform policy-makers about how to prevent, mitigate or adapt to environmental change” (2018, 2). Many authors and scholars have noted that science and policy are not enough to resolve the environmental crisis (Tucker 2009). No matter the discoveries of the ecological sciences, the fact remains that many people’s daily economic decisions that affect the environment are informed by spiritual and religious beliefs. In spite of what the ecological sciences may say these persons are predisposed to act in certain ways towards the environment.
This is why it is important to critique and probe religion and harness spiritual and religious resources in the fight against environmental problems. Though at times religion can be ambivalent yet it equally carries potentials to help in healing the earth. It is true there can be a dark side to religion and religious passages do not automatically lead to environmental protection and so there is need to continuously re-evaluate and reconstruct religious texts and practices (Tucker 2009). Religions are crucial in the environmental care question for various reasons as follows:
much of the world’s population are still informed by traditional religions and this is the lens through which they perceive and interact with nature and make ethical choices; religion is part of human civilisation and its wisdom should not be ignored or sidelined; appeal for individual environmental responsibility can be enforced with religious beliefs; some states like Pakistan are religious state and so religion can be appealed to in propagating environmental responsibility (Coward 2010). Sometime in the past there has been a tendency to ignore the spiritual heritage of world religions in environmental protection (Srivastava 2010). Srivastava rightly notes that: the exploitation and abuse of the earth, immoral and unethical living on planet earth is rejected by the religions. She writes further that religion can guide against depersonalization of persons by a technocratic culture, helps humans realize their limits and fallibility, and help humans nurture restraint from self-centeredness and individualism (2010). In the midst of economic greed that has exploited the earth, religion helps humans to remember that people are more important than profits (Srivastava 2010; Schumacher 2011). In spite of different religious perspectives, they share a common ground for earth care.
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 90 Despite the many scientific facts about the dire state of the environment, many persons are still not moved to action, and so it has become necessary to transform human consciousness through values, ethics, spirituality and religion (Tucker 2009). Coward argues that: “To reach ethical policy decisions about environmental problems, such as climate warming or the vanishing fishstocks, we need two things:
scientific knowledge about the risks presented and ethical principles on which to base our judgements” (2010, 91). As recognized above, “Many environmental problems arise from the deliberate or inadvertent abuse, misuse, and overuse of natural resources by human beings. Land, water, energy sources, air, and space have been adversely affected through human intervention” (Rajagopalan 2011, 7). It is difficult for a human person to act for environmental responsibility without conviction. This is where philosophical ethics and religions are needed in the task of mobilizing for environmental care.
Social or public policy needs to be based on sound science and not on superstitious cultural beliefs or personal beliefs of politicians. This being the case, it behoves philosophers of science to appraise ecological social policies on a continuous basis. Even policies that have been made can be reviewed in the light of new findings. Environmental policies should be based on sound policies from ecological sciences. In the study of interactions, distribution and abundance of species on the planet, ecological science makes use of experimental tests and mathematical theories.
Ecological science is vital and crucial for human lives, health and the wellbeing of other organisms. Ecological information helps in better understanding of the environment around human beings and with this information human beings can better improve, manage and conserve natural resources (Ecological Society of America 2020). The benefits of the ecological sciences are inestimable. They include, efficient forest management, preservation of native species from the knowledge that non- native species can be harmful, utilization of chemicals from plants and animals to treat human beings, preservation and restoration of endangered species such as the Peregrine falcon and Bald eagle, biological control of pest, identification and restoration of water quality from the knowledge that phosphorous and nitrogen from laundry detergent were entering into lakes, etc (Ecological Society of America 2020). Ecological knowledge helps in promotion of human wellbeing and prosperity, enhances new knowledge that is vital for food production, maintaining clean air and water, promote sustainable biodiversity, nature conservation, human population management and sustainable fishing (British Ecological Society 2020).
The above shows that the science of ecology is necessary in addressing the environmental crisis as it can help in creating a healthy environment not only for human beings but also other organisms and
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 91 their environments. By helping to advance and appraise ecological knowledge it is helping to resolve the environmental crisis for better ecological knowledge can help humans plan how to mitigate environ- mental problems and emergencies. Ecology speaks of interrelationships.
What should be of concern to human beings then is not only human life but other lives. By implication, philosophy of ecology is important. It is recognized that ethics is important in every field of human endeavours.
This is why there is medical ethics, bioethics, business ethics, political ethics, corporate ethics, and of course environmental ethics. Not every form of human behaviour is ethically acceptable. Ecological scientific research, applications of ecological knowledge to provide solutions and information have to be ethically evaluated in the light of the overall good of humans and the environment. They have to be morally evaluated in the light of their impact on the poor, indigenous people, animals, etc.
Ecological scientific knowledge should not be separated from ethical concerns of environmental racism, corporate social responsibility, and other issues raised by environmental philosophy or ethics. Ecological scientific knowledge can help in the restoration for instance of healthy water supply, but do the poor of society have access to that water?
Ecological scientific knowledge can help in harvesting chemicals from plants and animals to better human health. But if the plants and animals are found in indigenous lands and many aboriginal societies in the global south, does the process of harvest infringe on their rights? Do scientists especially from the west intrude into the sacred lands of indigenous peoples without their permission? Indigenous peoples have often suffered from pharmaceutical corporations who simply get permission from officials of the nation-states and intrude into sacred lands and groves to get resources. These are questions that make a philosophy of ecology and religious ethics fundamentally important.
Philosophy of ecology is crucial in the face of the environmental crisis also for the issues raised in ecology are to a certain degree philosophical issues or have serious implications for humans and the planet. The issues of climate, water, temperature, human population, conservation, pollution and global warming, etc are important for philosophical reflection. Philosophy as a second order discipline critically reflects over all of reality and the entities in the universe. Whatever affects human existence should be a subject for philosophical reflection.
There is also the key fact that: “ecology is only one small step away from urgent political, ethical, and management decisions about how best to live in an apparently fragile and increasingly degraded environment” (Colyvan et al 2009, 1). Brenner writes that the issues of diversity-productivity with respect to the common good, complexity, theories and laws, environmental problems and traditional themes in philosophy of science can be addressed philosophically and from an ethical perspective (2018).
Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies, vol. 19, issue 57 (Winter 2020) 92 Ecology is not studied for its own sake. Every study of ecology takes place in a social and political society and so it is tied up with social political decisions. It is important from an ethical perspective for philosophy of ecology to reflect over these decisions as they not only have implications for humans but also the environment. Ecological issues raise crucial questions for philosophy and ethics with regard to the ends that human beings should seek and how humans ought to live their lives on earth (DesJardins 2006). Do human beings have responsibilities to the organisms and their environments? Is it right to name some living organisms as pest and do we have responsibility to eliminate them? What are the moral implications of fertilizers and insecticides? (DesJardins 2006).
Attitudinal change is necessary in combating the environmental crisis. There are certain beliefs that are hostile to earth flourishing and earth care. They include beliefs like the earth’s resources are unlimited, the earth simply exists for human utility, humans are to have dominion over the earth, etc. The attitudinal change required to foster environmental protection can be fostered by philosophical ethics through philosophy of science and religious ecological ethics/religious ecology.
The paper has examined the role of philosophy of ecology and religion in abating the environmental crisis. It showed that there is an environmental crisis taking place on earth manifested in problems like overpopulation, deforestation, climate change, biodiversity loss, etc. It equally revealed that the environmental crisis is essentially anthropogenic. To combat the environmental crisis requires attitudinal change. This attitudinal change can be fostered through the philosophical critique of the ecological sciences, and religious environmental ethics. It is hereby concluded in this paper that the role of philosophy of ecology and religion should not be sidelined or neglected for they are powerful tools that can contribute in resolving the environmental crisis. And with this done, there will be a more sustainable ecosystem for the wellbeing of humans and other organisms in the planet.
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