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God is Green: Faith and Environmentalism

God is Green: Faith and Environmentalism

On Earth Day, I am always especially moved by NASA images of the beautiful earth. As a person of faith, I am also moved that such an awesome creation was made and given to us by such a generous God. 

Though the vocal Religious Right has gets most of the mainstream press for their rabidly anti-environmentalism agenda, most of us Judeo-Christian faithful believe strongly that environmental stewardship is a moral imperative and, yes, biblical:

You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart.

This means one of the ways I observe my faith is by lovingly and respectfully caring for God’s creation within the limits of my best abilities.

And I support others who legislate and lobby for my government to do likewise.  Here are just a few of the organizations working toward a message of Green Faith:

California Interfaith Power and Light

CIPL seeks to be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. This ministry intends to protect the earth’s ecosystems, safeguard public health, and ensure sufficient, sustainable energy for all.  

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/Journal of Lutheran Ethics

Heavy reliance on fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) together with ecologically damaging land use patterns have produced grave threats to justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. The related challenges posed by global warming and climate change are unprecedented in human history.

Evangelical Environmental Network

The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is a non-profit organization that seeks to educate, inspire, and mobilize Christians in their effort to care for God’s creation, to be faithful stewards of God’s provision, and to advocate for actions and policies that honor God and protect the environment.

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)

Judaism has a tradition of ethical concern for both the natural resources that support life, and the financial resources that support religious and educational projects. Both are called “stewardship,” and both imply conservation. Wasted energy is not only poor stewardship of funds, but wasted natural resources, causing unnecessary pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Catholic Coalition on Climate Change

The impact of climate change falls heaviest on the world’s poor. As Catholics, our faith demands prudent action. Our cars and power plants, more energy consumption and waste-we’re leaving a bigger carbon footprint. Scientists tell us that means more climate change. Here and around the world, it is the poor who will be hit hardest. With more droughts, floods, hunger and joblessness. As faithful Catholics, we have a moral obligation to care for both Creation and the poor. Pope Benedict XVI insisted, ‘Before it is too late, it is necessary to make courageous decisions’ to curb climate change.

Take Action: Sign the Care2 petition to make the Earth healthy for all by reducing toxic emissions.

Related Stories:

Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet

‘Environmentalism is Deadly’ Says Evangelical Alliance (Video)

Can We Make Peace with Gaia this Earth Day?

 

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Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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57 comments

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6:01PM PST on Dec 6, 2011

Thank You for the info.

1:20PM PDT on Jul 15, 2011

How did this article spur a religious debate. For goodness' sake people. I love that it is pointing out that for those who believe in God, they should truly follow the word they have been given and be environmentalists--it's that simple.

6:31PM PDT on Apr 27, 2011

@ Grace cont....

So then I have to ask, so what would be the point of having evolution then? It would make more sense to just create everything just as he wanted it. Then we're right back at square one. Evolution is a fact. Creation is a dumb idea.

No religion has given us a god or a story we can truly believe in. Obviously people do, but none of them stand up to proper scrutiny. So, it would seem that if there is a god, it has very little to do with us and we've not yet discovered what it is.

Personally, I think it's just wishful thinking. Which is understandable of course, but we haven't really come to terms with the fact that we are just a stage of one particular branch on the tree of evolution. We are not an end product and we are not as important as we like to think we are.

In fact, the truth is we are one of the most redundant species on the planet. We have no useful purpose until we die and our bodies are reabsorbed. The most important species on this planet are surely plants, insects and bacteria/fungi etc. They have the biggest influence on life in general. We are just another species and we rely on those groups for life to exist at all.

Take humans off the face of the earth and the planet and all other species will get on fine without us. Better in fact.

We think humans are special because we are humans. So we imagine that we have a special purpose and a special significance and that a god created all this especially for us. That's all.

6:14PM PDT on Apr 27, 2011

@ Grace

You can describe the genetic code as a language, but it's not a language in the same sense as as Gaelic, English or French. It's not something WE have made up.

Suggesting 'god' created the language isn't really the answer. Are you referring to the monotheistic god? If so, he was revealed to us in books which claimed to contain knowledge and instructions handed to humans from god.

These books claimed to know how our planet and the life on it came to be and that this information came from god. god's version does not allow for evolution. gods version is that everything was created as it is now, only a few thousand years ago. Either god got it wrong, or the people writing the books made it all up.

In any case, the point I was trying to make it this. If god started the process off, as you are suggesting, the outcome could not have been guaranteed to be as he wished it to be if he truly wanted evolution to be the method of his creation. No one could predict the outcome so the idea that we would eventually end up with a species that looked just like him would be a real long shot.

OK, so now the religious are saying, "ah, but god would know. god can do anything and god would have set evolution in the right direction with the outcome that he wanted being an absolute certainty"

cont....

4:16AM PDT on Apr 27, 2011

The Fortran programming language was created in 1964 by a committee. It has evolved through about a dozen editions since then. The genetic code is also a language--most likely the oldest language on earth. Language is almost always a sign of intelligence. Maybe "God" created the genetic code, first exemplified in archeabacteria, later evolving through all the various species that have ever been, both extinct, and still extant. Maybe chimpanzees were a stage along the way to a self-portrait.

1:05PM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

@ Edward W cont...

More importantly, what exactly would be the point? Religions claim that god created us in his image. You think he decided to allow evolution to decide how we turned out or he thought he’d try to confuse us with evolution as a kind of test of faith? Is that it?

But we’re still changing. Maybe we’re not yet like god at all then. Maybe there’s a long way for evolution to take us before we get to that stage?

Or maybe it’s just time to accept that there is no prime mover. There is no god. Things turned out as they have so far because evolution brought us to this point. It’s really that simple.

1:04PM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

@ Edward W cont...

“Many people believe God causes evolution.”

Many people believing something does not make it fact. It doesn’t even mean it makes sense. There is no evidence whatsoever for the existence of gods, but people are utterly convinced because of nonsensical books, because they are indoctrinated by their parents as children and because they “have a feeling”. This is not enough. In any case, If you know about evolution, you know that to say " God causes evolution." is absurd.

“ The ideas of a Prime Mover and natural selection are not necessarily incompatible.”

I think you’ll find that they are. It makes no sense whatsoever to imagine that a process like evolution is being controlled, directed and guided along by some master designer, and not least of all because so much goes wrong along the way. So much for intelligent design!

But, let’s not forget that the process relies on mutations and environmental conditions, and the mountains of evidence stacked up in support show that this is the case. Organisms change gradually over VERY long periods of time. Why would some “prime mover” sit around watching and waiting to see what happens? And what exactly do you think he’s doing about it since the process itself manages along just fine without any intervention?

Cont...

1:03PM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

@ Edward W

"You oversimplify to say that evolution proves that god had nothing to do with it"

I’m not oversimplifying anything. Natural selection through environmental conditions together with the natural mutations which occur as organisms reproduce causes evolution. Believing that a 'creator' has a hand in it means that you don't understand the theory.

If you believe in creation, this ‘creator’ must be a bungling idiot since the VAST majority of organisms become extinct because they cannot adapt. Also, the job of a creator is to create, not to encourage evolution of his creations. The OT clearly states that god created everything as it now is. It does NOT say that god caused evolution. The acceptance of evolution amongst believers is just another admission of defeat. The role of god in life has gradually been stripped back by science to the point where he has become 'the god of the gaps'. In other words, if we don't have the answer to something yet, believers excitedly exclaim "Ahh! That's where god comes into it!".

This is pathetic. Their 'holy' books make some pretty strong claims for his role in the 'creation' of this planet (let's face it, they knew nothing about the universe) and all life on it, but as our knowledge and understanding of these things has grown, 'god's role has shrunk and it's become very obvious that the stories in the ancient books have no basis in fact, are utterly unconvincing and are completely irrelevant.

Cont...

10:25AM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

Edward W.

I see where your coming from, but in a way your wrong. Evolution can occur without divine intervention, therefore it's logical to conclude it did happen without divine intervention. The same conclusions can be reached in all fields science. Canyons can be created without a God, so it's natural and reasonable to assume that water/wind created canyons without divine guidance.

5:21AM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

Thanks for the article.

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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