Chapter 5: Spiritual Anthropologies and Sustainability
Before we talk about what religions believe about the environment, what sorts of things do religions believe about human life in the first place?
Having set an epistemological frame in the last chapter, we will now examine some theological anthropologies. Instead of trying to compare or rate the “best environmental religions,” we will look at how different religious communities understand the human situation in the first place so as to understand how religious perspectives on humans and the environment might operate. To do this, we’ll use David Loy’s article, “Healing Ecology,” and excerpts from Reinhold Niebuhr’s book The Nature and Destiny of Man: A Christian Interpretation to identify two different religious views of the human condition. We will then tie these perspectives back to environmental issues that are prevalent today. If we can understand the particular way that a religious understanding of the world (and of humans) operates, then we’ll be in much better position to understand the meaning and diversity of religious responses to environmental issues, as highlighted in several case study chapters that follow.
- A theological anthropology is a study of the human person in dialogue with the beliefs of a religious tradition. ↵