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'The emergence in widespread practice of the Baconian creed that scientific knowledge means technological power over nature
can scarcely be dated before about 1850'
'Its acceptance as a normal pattern of action may mark the
greatest event in human history since the invention of agriculture, and perhaps in nonhuman terrestrial history as well.'
'Almost at once the new situation forced the crystallization of the novel concept of ecology; indeed, the word ecology first appeared in the English language in 1873.'
'The victory of Christianity over paganism was the greatest psychic revolution in the
history of our culture..we live in the "post-Christian age." Our thinking and language ceased to be Christian, but to my eye the substance often remains amazingly akin to that of the past.'
'Our daily habits of action, for example, are dominated by an implicit faith in perpetual progress which was unknown either to Greco- Roman antiquity or to the Orient. It is rooted in, and is indefensible apart from, Judeo- Christian theology.'
'The fact that Communists share it merely helps to show what can be demonstrated on many other grounds: that Marxism, like Islam, is a Judeo-Christian heresy. We continue today to live, as we have lived for about 1700 years, very largely in a context of Christian axioms.'
'What did Christianity tell people about their relations with the environment? While many
of the world's mythologies provide stories of creation, Greco-Roman mythology was
singularly incoherent in this respect.'
'Aristotle denied that the visible world had a beginning. Indeed, the idea of a beginning was
impossible in the framework of their cyclical notion of time. In sharp contrast, Christianity inherited from Judaism a concept of time as nonrepetitive and linear & a story of creation'
'Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia's religions (except, perhaps, Zorastrianism), not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.'
'In Antiquity every tree, every spring, every stream, every hill had its own genius loci, its guardian spirit. These spirits were accessible to men, but were very unlike men; centaurs, fauns, and mermaids show their ambivalence.'
'Before one cut a tree, mined a mountain, or dammed a brook, it was important to placate the spirit in charge, and to keep it placated. By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.'
'The Greeks believed that sin was intellectual blindness, and that
salvation was found in #illumination, #orthodoxy--that is, clear thinking. The Latins, on the other hand, felt that sin was moral evil, and that salvation was to be found in right conduct.'
'Eastern theology has been intellectualist. Western theology has been voluntarist.
The Greek saint contemplates; the Western saint acts. *The implications of Christianity for
the conquest of nature would emerge more easily in the Western atmosphere.*'
'In the early Church, and always in the Greek East, nature was conceived primarily as a symbolic system through which God speaks to men: the ant is a sermon to sluggards; rising flames are the symbol of the soul's aspiration.'
'The view of nature was essentially artistic rather than scientific. While Byzantium preserved & copied great numbers of ancient Greek scientific texts, science as we conceive it could scarcely flourish in such an ambience.
However, in the Latin West by the early 13th C..'
'It was ceasing to be the decoding of the physical symbols of God's
communication with man and was becoming the effort to understand God's mind by
discovering how his creation operates. The rainbow was no longer simply a symbol of
hope first sent to Noah after the Deluge..'
'From the 13th C onward, up to & including Leibnitz & Newton, every major scientist
explained his motivations in religious terms. If Galileo had not been so expert as an amateur theologian he would have got into far less trouble: the professionals resented his
'And Newton seems to have regarded himself more as a theologian than as a scientist. *It was not until the late 18th century that the hypothesis of God became unnecessary to many scientists.*'
'I personally doubt that disastrous ecologic backlash can be avoided simply by applying to our problems more science and more technology. Our science and technology have grown out of Christian attitudes toward man's relation to nature which are almost
universally held'
'Despite Copernicus, all the cosmos rotates around
our little globe. Despite Darwin, we are not, in our hearts, part of the natural process. We are superior to nature, contemptuous of it, willing to use it for our slightest whim.'
'The whole concept of the sacred grove is alien to Christianity and to the ethos of the West. For nearly 2 millennia Christian missionaries have been chopping down sacred groves, which are idolatrous because they assume spirit in nature.'
'What we do about ecology depends on our ideas of the man-nature relationship. More
science and more technology are not going to get us out of the present ecologic crisis
until we find a new religion, *or rethink our old one*.'
'Possibly we should ponder the greatest radical in Christian history since Christ: Saint
Francis of Assisi. The prime miracle of Saint Francis is the fact that he did not end at the
stake, as many of his left-wing followers did.'
'The key to an understanding of Francis is his belief in the virtue of humility--not merely for the individual but for man as a species. *Francis tried to depose man from his monarchy over creation and set up a democracy of all God's creatures.*'
'With him the ant is no longer simply a homily for the lazy, flames a sign of the thrust of the soul toward union with God; now they are Brother Ant and Sister Fire, praising the Creator in their own ways as Brother Man does in his.'
'What Sir Steven Ruciman calls "the Franciscan doctrine of the animal soul" was quickly
stamped out...'
'The present increasing disruption of the global environment is the product of a dynamic technology and science which were originating in the Western medieval world against which Saint Francis was rebelling in so original a way'
'The fact that most people do not think of these attitudes as
Christian is irrelevant. No new set of basic values has been accepted in our society to
displace those of Christianity. Hence we shall continue to have a worsening ecologic
'The greatest spiritual revolutionary in Western history, Saint Francis, proposed an alternative Christian view of nature and man's relation to it; he tried to substitute the idea of the equality of all creatures, including man, for the idea of man's limitless rule of creation'
'Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not. We must rethink and refeel our nature and destiny.'
'The profoundly religious, but
heretical, sense of the primitive Franciscans for the spiritual autonomy of all parts of
nature may point a direction.

I propose Francis of Assisi as a patron saint for ecologists.'
From The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis by Lynn White. 1967. Science 155: 1203-1207.
Pope Francis addressed all this in Laudato Si, trying to steer Catholicism away from Western Christianity's dominion over nature towards St Francis' ecological revolution. If you have not read it, thread:
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