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RELIGION AND ECOLOGY

Christian Ecology

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Animals and birds are dying because of the wickedness of our people, people who say, "God doesn't see what we are doing."

Jeremiah 12:4 (Today's English Version)

In 1967, historian Lynn White published a now famous piece entitled "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis."

Religion ecologyWhite, himself a Christian, concluded that many of our environmental problems could be traced to the Christian notion that God gave this earth to humans for their use and specifically directed humans to exercise dominion over the earth and all of its life forms. While it is questionable that this is what White intended, the effect of the piece has been to serve as an indictment of Christianity as the source of our environmental problems, and to render laughable the idea that Christianity might have anything to contribute to our environmental crisis. As essayist Wendell Berry has observed, "the culpability of Christianity in the destruction of the natural world and uselessness of Christianity in any effort to correct that destruction are now established cliches of the conservation movement."

Largely as a reaction and response to White’s piece, Christian thinkers have over the last three decades formulated a response to White’s indictment. The response has taken three distinct paths. One path, which can be called the Stewardship Model, concludes that God did indeed give humans dominion, but only on the condition that we act as wise stewards, exercising our dominion with prudence and care. This is the model that is preferred within evangelical and fundamentalist circles, to the extent that this wing of Christianity chooses to address the environmental issue.

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The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet

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John Bellamy Foster: `The transition to socialism and the transition to an ecological society are one’

 
John Bellamy Foster's keynote address to the Climate Change, Social Change conference (organised by Green Left Weekly), Sydney, Australia, April 12, 2008. This talk is the basis of the last chapter of The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet.

Read an exclusive excerpt from Foster's The Ecological Revolution: Making Peace with the Planet at

http://links.org.au/node/1066.

 

Intelligent Design

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Intelligent design

 
Part of a series of articles on
Intelligent design
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Fine-tuned universe
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Neo-creationism
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Creationism

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Intelligent design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection."[1][2] It is a form of creationism and a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for the existence of God, but one which deliberately avoids specifying the nature or identity of the designer.[3] Its leading proponents—all of whom are associated with the Discovery Institute, a politically conservative think tank[n 1][4]—believe the designer to be the God of Christianity.[n 2][n 3]

Proponents argue that intelligent design is a scientific theory.[1] In so doing, they seek to fundamentally redefine science to include supernatural explanations.[5] The overwhelming consensus in the scientific community is that intelligent design is not science,[n 4][n 5][6][7] and indeed is pseudoscience.[n 6][8][n 7]

Intelligent design was developed by a group of American creationists who revised their argument in the creation–evolution controversy to circumvent court rulings such as the United States Supreme Court Edwards v. Aguillard ruling, which barred the teaching of "creation science" in public schools as breaching the separation of church and state.[9][n 8][10] The first significant published use of intelligent design was in Of Pandas and People, a 1989 textbook intended for high-school biology classes.[11] From the mid-1990s, intelligent design proponents were supported by the Discovery Institute which, together with its Center for Science and Culture, planned and funded the "intelligent design movement".[12][n 1] They advocated inclusion of intelligent design in public school curricula, leading to the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, where U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III ruled that intelligent design is not science, that it "cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents", and that the school district's promotion of it therefore violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.[13]

Contents

History

Origin of the concept

A marble bust based on a portrait ca. 370 BC of Plato. The teleological argument, or "argument from design", is an ancient one, held in some form by Plato and Aristotle.
 
   
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A glimpse of God in matter

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A glimpse of God in matter 

An interview with architect Christopher Alexander on his new work The Nature of Order, which seeks to discover, using the vocabulary of architecture, the divine elements that unify all beautiful created matter.

By Britt Peterson
(November 1, 2005)

Christopher Alexander ties together religion and architectureArchitect Christopher Alexander may have just succeeded in doing what philosophers back to Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle have eternally sought to do: find God through science. In his four-volume work titled The Nature of Order, Alexander uses the vocabulary of architecture and the empirical tools of a scientist to discover the principles of what he calls “life.” Following his 30-year study of life and the universal human response to it, Alexander illustrates his idea that matter must hold within it something life-like — something God-like — which all humans understand as a pleasing beauty and order.

A professor emeritus of architecture at University of California, Berkeley, Alexander spoke recently with Science and Theology News editorial intern Britt Peterson about the importance of science and religion to architecture, and his empirical search for the face of God in the physical world.

What were some of your first lessons and how did you come up with the ideas you’re writing about today?

I was astonished by the intellectual poverty of architecture as it was taught to me in the late 50s. It made me quite sick actually, and I have spent the rest of my life trying to work out what architecture actually is. I’m a practicing architect and I build a lot of stuff, so I wanted to know what it was all about. I began thinking about that when I was [a graduate student] at Harvard and really haven’t stopped to this day.

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Noah's Ark replica shows conservative Christians are embracing green building

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When the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., opened on Memorial Day 2007, temperatures inside the 100,000-square-foot complex began to spike. Huge crowds of warm bodies will do that to an HVAC system, and it took months of tweaking through the museum's first hot summer to get the system working properly. 

Mike Zovath, senior vice president of Answers in Genesis, the organization that built the Creation Museum, says he has learned his lesson. As a consortium that includes his group prepares to break ground this spring on a biblical theme park called Ark Encounter, which will include a replication of Noah's Ark built according to the dimensions given in the Book of Genesis, it is turning to the latest trends in "green" architecture. Scheduled to open in 2014, Ark Encounter will include environmentally sustainable technology "from Day One," Zovath said, and will be built by a firm that specializes in LEED-certified construction and design, the industry standard for environmentally efficient buildings.

That means geothermal heating, rainwater capture, active and passive solar heating and specialized window glazing. Even the 500-foot-long ark, which its owners say will be the largest timber-framed structure in America, will use sustainable heating and cooling, and lighting designed to reduce energy expenditure.

One might say that stories about green architecture have now officially jumped the ark. For a decade, at least, new office buildings, hotels, and even shopping centers have been trumpeted with news of their LEED ratings, which range from merely "certified" through silver, gold and the much-coveted platinum. Churches, synagogues and other places of worship have competed for environmental status through the LEED process. But it is a mark of success of the LEED standards, promulgated by the U.S. Green Building Council, that there is a new comfort level with them among conservative religious groups, including biblical literalists.

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