Religion and Environmental Ethics Praves Intongpan abstract

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Religion and Environmental Ethics
Praves Intongpan*


The growth and development of science and the advancement of technology with all its constructive and destructive forces have made the problems of environment, the problem of the relationship between man and nature increasingly important. Along with such a growth, man has been trying to control and master nature and thereby make use of nature. This has led to corruption and pollution of nature, while nature has all along been nourishing, protective, sheltering, life-giving, creative and maternal. This kind of disharmony between man and nature has led to the problem of environmental degradation, a basic threat to global living. This threat will infinitely increase so long as we donot find the way out.

1. Introduction

I begin my article with a quotation from Paul Santmire “The earth is in danger of destruction”. A time has come today when we are all feeling the pinch of the environmental crisis towards which we are heading. This environmental crisis is engulfing us at such a rapid speed that we can no longer neglect it saying that it is an affair of the environmentalists. We all need to address ourselves to this and try to reduce if not reverse or stop the environmental deterioration. A question to our mind that how is the environmental crisis related to religion or what is the role of religion in resolving the crisis. Here I would like to quote Lynn White (in Beabour, 1973 : 57) who wrote “Since the roots of our (environmental) trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious.” Again quoting Harold W Wood, “in so far as ordinary people are concerned, it is religion which is the greatest factor in determining morality”.(Wood, 1977: 101)

I shall address myself to the root causes of our environmental crisis, how we can remedy this problem and what is the contribution of Buddhism in resolving, reducing the environmental crisis. One could as well think that this burning problem of the ecological crisis is a problem of the ecological sciences or a problem of technology and that religion or morality need not concern itself with this problem. As far as the ecological sciences are concerned, in order that such disciplines are effective as policy programs of action, they need to be related to a new attitude and a new concern for the well being of the environment. This new attitude has to be provided by ethics and by religion. My attempt in this paper will be to briefly state what sorts of attitudes have caused the present day crisis and how the West is now turning to the East in search of new attitudes. I shall in my paper show Buddhism an eastern religion, viz., can provide this new attitude which is needed to reverse, stop, or at least reduce the environmental crisis.

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