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A Christian Perspective on the Environment and How Evolution Could Unite the Religions of the World to Save the Planet
By Roger Oakland

Segment 1
 

 

In July of 2016, I was invited to present a paper on the environment from a Christian perspective to the International Symposium on Energy and Environmental Management and Technology held in Rome, Italy. The following information you are about to read is that paper and relates to the issue of the environment, from a biblical and Christian viewpoint.

Although I do not consider myself to be an authority on the subject of the environment, and certainly others are more qualified to speak on this issue than I, there are a few areas where I feel I am able to contribute.

First, I have been a Christian for nearly four decades—my conversion to Christianity coming at the age of thirty. Second, because I have a background in biology and agriculture, I have always had a keen interest in environmental issues. And third, as a Christian, I believe it is the responsibility of every human being to be concerned about our planet and the ecological relationship we have with all living creatures that God has created.

Throughout my life, I have made a number of observations about the past, the present, and where society seems to be headed in the future. I grew up in western Canada on a wheat farm and hold an active interest in this farm to this day. I was educated during the ’50s and ’60s through the Canadian public-school system, then later at the University of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan. During these years, like my colleagues, I was brought up in the educational mindset that taught that our world could be understood from a purely natural and mechanistic worldview. The concept that “God is dead” and that “science and technology” will bring utopia to the earth, were two foundational ideas in my belief system during that period of time.

By the’70s and ’80s, it became obvious to many, including me, that a paradigm shift in thinking was underway. It was apparent that many of the byproducts of our technology had the potential for destroying us—the pollution in the atmosphere, our lakes, rivers, oceans, and the soil. Not only was our planet being threatened, our bodies were being pumped full of molecular time bombs that silently tick away. Even more significant was the fact that humans had developed the potential to completely annihilate the entire planet through weapons of mass destruction.

By the early ‘80s, it became apparent to many that there needed to be a solution to the overwhelming problems we were facing as a global community. Scientists described global crisis situations such as global warming and the ozone depletion that would have an effect on the entire planet. It was determined by experts in the field that these global problems, if they were going to be resolved, needed global solutions that could be implemented internationally.

Today, most people recognize we are at a major crossroad in earth’s history. Few would argue that environmental problems need to be discussed and management solutions proposed; otherwise the future of life on our planet as we know it could be in jeopardy.

Over the past 35 years some have been suggesting that we should look to spiritual solutions for motivation and a method to resolve the problems that the naturalistic worldview has created. For example, Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual leader who has held weekly meditation meetings at the United Nations headquarters in New York on a weekly basis since 1970 has stated:

Science and spirituality must be united. They need each other. Without the one, the other is incomplete, almost meaningless. Together they are not only supremely complete but also divinely meaningful.[1]

Former Vice President Al Gore has been one voice outspoken about his desire to have people see the connection between spirituality and the environment. In his widely distributed book Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, Gore presented the point that “only a radical rethinking of our relationship with nature can save the earth’s ecology for future generations.” [2]

In a chapter of his book titled Environmentalism of the Spirit, Mr. Gore called for a “new ecological awareness” [3] and the consideration of a “new faith in the future.” [4] He suggested that it was imperative to call for a “spiritual response” [5] to the global environmental problems we are facing. He challenged readers to consider “evolution” as the basis of an ecumenical faith that he suggested could unite science and religion as a means of saving our planet from ecological disaster. He stated:

And if we could find a way to understand our own connection to the earth – all the earth – we might recognize the danger of destroying so many living species and disrupting the climate balance. [6]

Then developing this idea further Mr. Gore suggested:

“The long and intricate process by which evolution helped shape the complex relationship of all living and nonliving things may be explicable in purely scientific terms, but the simple fact of the living world and our place on it evokes awe, wonder, a sense of mystery – a spiritual response – when one reflects on its deeper meaning.”[7]

 


 

[1]  Sri Chinmoy, Inner and Outer Peace, Peace Publishing, Montreal,  page 32

[2]  Al Gore, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, cover flap

[3]  Gore, page 262

[4]  Gore, page 263

[5]  Gore, page 264

[6]  Gore, page 264

[7]  Gore, page 264

 

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