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Summary of World Views about Care of the Earth

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BIG QUESTIONS:    

    Who is responsible? Am I?
    Who does the earth belong to?
    Is it ok to kill animals for meat or fur?
    Who should be responsible for tackling pollution?
    Doesn’t science have all the answers?


COMMON THEMES:
The worldviews represented here share similar views and concerns, with some slight differences in detail, but overwhelming agreement on principles and the need for practical action:
    •    All see a continuity between human life and the natural world, with humans sharing responsibility for nurturing it
    •    All share a wonder and love of the natural world to be celebrated
    •    Pollution, recycling, the abuse of technology, excessive consumerism and consumption, are all problems we should join together to tackle
    •    Most would see a greater focus on the spiritual aspects of life as having positive consequences for attitudes and action
    •    Diversity, and variety of form and purpose, are important to our world


DISTINCTIVE VIEWS:


The Christian contribution emphasises:
    •    Churches and congregations are ‘going green’ and are leading environmental action and campaigns
    •    The links between the modern environmental movement and the traditional concept of the earth as God’s creation and gift
    •    The dangers of a (partial) view in parts of the Bible of the Earth as made for human benefit
    •    The dangers of industrialism and capitalist greed in diverting us from God’s good, simple earth
    •    The need for partnership between religions and scientists to work together for action


The Hindu perspective emphasises:
    •    Hindu philosophy emphasises that the universe is a projection of a spiritual underpinning defined as Brahman.
    •    Hence the earth is revered as an expression of divinity.
    •    The main peace invocation invokes peace not only for the living kingdom but for whole creation, animate and inanimate.
    •    The universe is not seen as resource for man’s consumption but a continuum of the spiritual world


The Humanist contribution also focuses on:
    •    The interconnection of the human and the natural world
    •    Human welfare and happiness is inseparable from sustaining the world for our descendants
    •    Not believing in God, humanists have to take responsibility for the problems caused by the misuse of science
    •    Science also has the power to heal (pollution) and create (new forms of energy)


The Jewish contribution emphasises:
    •    The Genesis stories of creation emphasise the glory and order of the natural world
    •    Adam is told not to spoil the world - the environment is a basic human responsibility
    •    The Talmud has a special law against wastage - recycling is a duty
    •    Jewish business ethics include care for where and how our possessions are sourced and made
    •    Even if the task seems impossible, we shouldn’t despair, but keep trying


The Muslim contribution also emphasises creation:
    •    The enormous diversity, and variety of form and function in the world is God’s plan
    •    Everything on earth - human and natural - is to be valued and cherished as God’s
    •    The Qur’an teaches us to contemplate, use wisely and nurture the whole of the natural world
    •    Use of the earth’s resources means stewardship, for other species as well as ourselves
    •    Waste and pollution are forbidden, and there is modern Muslim scholarship on the use of toxic products and harmful methods


The Sikh contribution draws links with Punjabi origins:
    •    Farming, use and re-use of organic substances and care for the earth are basic to Sikhism
    •    The Earth is both a mother and a sacred creation, and its resources are holy and to be shared with all
    •    The earth is also a sacred place and should be worshipped as God’s creation
    •    It should also be a place for right action - for peace, justice and distribution according to need
    •    Sustainable ecology means living in harmony with the earth


The Buddhist contribution emphasises:
    •    The word Buddha means to wake up - to the way things are connected - us and nature
    •    Not subject and object thinking, which tempts us to see nature as ‘out there’ which causes conflict and suffering
    •    Achieving one-ness through the ‘5 precepts’ - frees up energy from greed or conflict and help us realise oneness
    •    Mahanaya Buddhism emphasises supporting life and nature: ‘engaged Buddhists’ are those who take direct positive action, on environmental and other issues
    •    Awe at the wonder of the earth enables us to think what we are willing to give up to care for it