Chapter 2: The Genesis of Eco-Theology — Is Christianity to Blame for our “Ecologic Crisis”?

In a book that explores the burgeoning influence of faith-based environmental values, the question in the title of this chapter may seem odd. But before moving ahead to various themes and essential expressions of faith-based environmental work, this chapter delves into the most famous argument so far in the history of religion and environment studies, the Lynn White Thesis, which Lynn White, Jr, a historian at UCLA, published in 1967 in the journal Science. For decades, this thesis held sway in most conversations related to religion and ecology; in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, most major works on the topic would refer to Lynn White, and probably in their introduction or framing. In that sense, I am not breaking with tradition; though the field of religion and environment has moved beyond the Lynn White Thesis, its echoes still reverberate, and any informed discussion of this topic will benefit from understanding the arguments (and shortcomings) of White’s thesis.

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Religion and Environmental Values in America by Gregory E Hitzhusen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.