The Elect and the Environment

Does the environment go better with God, to borrow an old advertising line from the makers of Coke? Roughly 50 years ago, the historian of science Lynn White Jr. answered that question in the negative in a Science magazine article titled â??The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis.â? As Mark R. Stoll observes in â??Inherit the Holy Mountainâ? (a title taken from the book of Isaiah), White was himself a Christian whose father taught ethics at a Presbyterian seminary. But Whiteâ??s background did not prevent him from concluding that the Christian understanding of humanityâ??that we are not part of nature but have dominion over itâ??was responsible for the modern Westâ??s ruthless attitude toward nature. In Whiteâ??s own words, â??Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.â?

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