26 April 2007

First Church of Darwin Environmentalist

This post is going to be a little bit off of normal, but I went to the talk last Tuesday by Professor Thomas Dunlap on environmentalism as a secular religion.

Dr. Dunlap described environmentalism as something that requires a faith in nature -- belief that the natural way of things is superior to a technology-centered world. In this way of seeing things, the reason that environmentalism still has such strong opponents is that the other side firmly believes that technology can and will fix the problems we face -- and who's to say which side is right? The fuzzy, predictive nature of this definitely reminds me of religious debate, even though there's no "god" or something.

Additionally, the current environmentalist reform movement has many of the characteristics of a religion that we pay attention to in class. It uses moral language to guide the daily life of its followers, it seeks to explain humans' relation to the world they live in and answer ultimate questions, and it has been around far longer than most other reform movements -- so long that it has been able to morph into this "secular religion" that dominates some people's sense of ethics.

To take it even farther, he mentioned that some environmentalists are even using established religions (especially Christianity) to further their cause, with stickers and brochures along the lines of "Jesus wants us to save the butterflies."

Really a good talk, touched on a lot of things we discuss in class. Mostly I wanted to provide an example of how religion may be more and more prevalent than we think, if we hold with our definition.

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