Religion plays a highly important role in the contemporary urban society. Despite an argument that traditional forms of religion decline, the new ones fill the gap. As well as religion is a cultural system, it takes numerous forms depending on customs and traditions throughout the globe. Environmentalism appears to a new cultural trend especially wide-spread in the developed countries. Due to its solid spiritual issues, strong moral code, and existing rituals, environmentalism can become an alternative to the traditional religion.The arguments for environmentalism as a new religion take place from the XIX century. Garreau (2010) makes the emphasis that the term ecology appeared in XIX century and described the complex mutual relationships between species in their struggle for existence. Ecology appears to be closely connected to Darwin’s evolutional theory. Precisely ecology can interpret the environment, the nature of things, and make the sense of it. Survival is the key issue, which makes the civilizations develop, improve, and sustain the external invasions. Obviously, environmental ideology is a strong concept and premise to religious outlook.
Judeo-Christian religious tradition focuses on the natural world as well. Everything in the world is connected to one another, so mutual relationships are the true foundation of being. Christianity considers strong hierarchy crucial for the environment, as God gives man mastery over the natural world (Garreau, 2010). Precisely the man’s mastery leads to anthropocentric world view, exploitation of the nature, Industrial Revolution, and serious environmental problems today as a result.
The contemporary environmentalism implements syncretic ideas from different religious systems. Aside from Christianity, modern ecotheology applies the concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Neo-paganism to their teaching. Mastery transforms into responsibility for the natural world and searching for the ways to save the environment. Environmentalism strives to make Christianity green, responsible, and based on social justice. Greening of evangelicals (Garreau 2010) cover both progressive protestant denominations and conservative Christian churches as well.
Environmentalism can be considered the new religion, since it takes into account the consequences of human actions (Crichton, 2003). Environmental ideology implies the actions sympathetic to the nature and strives to improve life quality. Despite living in secular society, humans tend to fill the spiritual and cultural gaps they have. Environmental concepts can gather people around the idea of a better future. Thus, it becomes a choice of moral code for numerous urban atheists today. Besides, environmentalism is a religion that maps the traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths. Ecotheology is based on similar religious concepts, including a paradise, a sin, the tree of knowledge, human Communion, the fall of man, and the coming doomsday (Crichton, 2003). Environmentalism concentrates on beliefs and moral values in the same way Christianity does. Plimer (2009) confirms that environmentalists uses the same apocalyptic image of the world, as the Bible depicts.
Apparently, environmentalism appears to be an alternative religion for nominally Christian nations (Nelson, 2010). Despite a seemingly common set of values for the whole Universe, ecotheology is based on Judeo-Christian values and world view. Even the rhetorical strategies used by environmentalists remain embedded in evangelical Protestant heritage. Environmental ideology is based on the concept of excessive consumption, similar to Calvinist theory (Nelson, 2010). The nature little affected by humans appears to be a true paradise for the environmentalists, since it makes the humans closer to the perfect being and so that closer to God. Although environmentalism seems to be one of the most progressive cultural issue, it seeks a return to a primitive natural existence and embraces Utopian dreams about prehistorical human being.
In conclusion, it is apparent that the new religious traditions go through the sufficient transformations Environmental ideology appears to be a strong and solid alternative for the urban atheists in their searching for the spiritual and moral values. Environmentalism is similar to Judeo-Christian outlook, since it is based on the same cultural issues. Apocalyptic images, the concept of human sin and responsibility, a paradise are used by the environmentalists and conservative evangelicals.
- Crichton, M. (2003). Medallion Speaker Address.
- Environmentalism is a New Religion – Prof Ian Plimer. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bOIsS27r3c
- Garreau, J. (2010). Environmentalism as Religion. The New Atlantis, Summer 2010, 61-74.
- Nelson, R. (2010). New Religion of Environmentalism. Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Retrieved from http://www.ajc.com/opinion/new-religion-of-environmentalism-484726.html