Response Paper

Religion & Anthropocene

The following response is based on the reading of “Welcome to the Anthropocene” and “The Anthropocene: A man-made world”, published by The Economist on 26th May 2011. ‘Grounding Religion’, Ch. 1-4, written by Whitney A. Bauman, Bohannon, and Kevin J. O’Brien.

Anthropocene. It begins with Paul Crutzen and his thoughts about the time in which he lived. He believes that he has embraced a new era, in which man plays an important role and each of their actions affects the earth. This era is then named Anthropocene. In one side, it is a blessing to human beings as intelligent beings. Human has the ability to cultivate nature. Increased of food production, the progress of transportation system, the sophistication of technology and convenience of life are the results of human intelligence. But life on earth never escaped the black and white paradox. In another side, all these human activities already create new problems.

Human intervention causes the development of the earth is no longer natural. The researchers observed major changes that occur drastically on the face of the earth. Humans take too much and too fast. While the earth takes a long time to supply again. It affected, for example, the carbon cycle-one of the most important cycle process in the earth. Carbon cycle no longer occurs naturally, it has been affected by various variables that trigger damage in the atmosphere, the earth’s surface and the underground water layer (aquisfer).

Anthropocene is something that cannot be denied. Even every aspect of human social behavior affects nature. For example: The War. The war requires a lot of resources to supply weapons and logistics. The wars exploit nature. Weapons and war not only leave a loss for humans but also for nature. Not just a damaged environment. Some wars even use dangerous weapons such as atomic and nuclear bombs. This will affect the environment for a very long time. Leaving the environment contaminated with radiation, biological mutations and extinction. Due to the damage that might be caused by the Anthropocene era, it is important to prevent and cope with more severe damage. Various ways will be tried to save the environment. This part is where religion will take on a role.


Grounding religions. In order to understand the relationship between religion and ecology, the first thing the authors offer is definition. In the first chapter, the authors provide 5 examples of the definition of religion from Paul Tillich, D.T. Suzuki, Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx and Judith Butler. All five have different views and definitions of religion. From those five divergent definitions, shows the reader that the Author has no certainty and partiality to one definition. The authors did not conclude to a particular definition of religion. On the contrary, the five definitions are the conclusions of the worldview that has been developing. That’s how we categorize people through their perspective of religion. That definition affects people’s way of thinking and attitudes toward religion. In chapter 3 we turn to the definition of ecology, starting with 5 questions about ecology. The answers to these questions lead us to the concept of nature and environment degradation issues.

Author’s most understandable definition of ecology is listed in the last paragraph of page 36: “Ecology is a branch of biological science, a field of scientific study based on careful observation and repeatable research of living things in their living and non-living contexts.”

As explained in the section: ‘Studying Religion Inside and out’, chapter 1 pg. 21-24, in my opinion, the discussion of the definition of religion (and any study related to religion) re-emphasizes how emic and ethic are become important considerations in religious studies. Which means it is important to look at the background of the researcher and make it a reference to assess the credibility and the propensity of his work. But my question for this is, how to distinguish between skepticism and the tendency to judge a researcher even before he researches?

In the ‘How should religion respond to ecology?’ section, the author offers 3 options: Recovering wisdom in the traditions they have inherited; Reforming those traditions in light of the new situation and Replacing traditional religion in favor of something new and more suited to the current crisis. Every religion already has a doctrine that shows how nature and its sustainability are human responsibility. Some are understood as the principle of life and others are listed in the scriptures or bible. For example Buddhism worshiping Dharma. Dharma teaches to cherish fellow beings and the environment.
Or just like DeWith citing the Book of Genesis (2:15):
“The LORD God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden in order to have him work it and guard it.”

Islam and the Quran also have the same command. In Surah Al A’raf (7:56):
“And cause not corruption upon the earth after its reformation. And invoke Him in fear and aspiration. Indeed, the mercy of Allah is near to the doers of good.”

I agree with these and the right statement to represent these three options is to revive the religious teachings of the earth and the environment.

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