Skip to main content

Images, Metaphors, and Models in the Quest for Sustainability: The Overlapping Geography of Scientific and Religious Insights

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
Issues in Science and Theology: Creative Pluralism?

Abstract

There is a renewed interest in the role religions and Faith Based Organizations play in the global quest for sustainability, as well as in the possibilities and limits of interreligious dialogue related to one of the main challenges of our time: the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in the UN Agenda 2030. In fact, the academic disciplines of interreligious studies and environmental sustainability share substantial common ground: scholars in both fields claim interdisciplinarity, activist tendencies, and relationality to be key characteristics of their respective disciplines. For these practical reasons science and religion, two very relevant global actors, should think and act together to bridge the gap between shallow and deep views on sustainability. Moreover, a pragmatic convergence and a strategic alliance between world religions and sustainability sciences could accelerate the commitment to environmental stewardship. The analogous and partly overlapping metaphors, concepts, and images used in both religious and scientific discourses on sustainability point towards a potentially fruitful dialogue as well as towards an emerging shared narrative that could lead to joint action. In this paper, I identify and describe ten overlapping scientific and religious insights on sustainability.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Chapter
USD 29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
eBook
USD 109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

Notes

  1. 1.

    It is important to note that in relation to sustainability science, which is a highly interdisciplinary field of research, all forms of inquiry, including the humanities and the social sciences, need to be set in dialogue with the natural sciences.

Bibliography

  • Abson, D.J. 2017. Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation. Ambio 46 (1): 30–39.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alliance of Religions and Conservation and United Nations Development Program. 2015. Faith in the Future: The Bristol Commitments. Bath: ARC.

    Google Scholar 

  • Barbour, I. 2000. When Science Meets Religion. San Francisco: Harper One.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bhumi Project/Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. 2015. Bhumi Devi Yai Kah! A Hindu Declaration on Climate Change, http://www.hinduclimatedeclaration2015.org/english. Accessed 25 June 2021.

  • Boulding, K.E. 1966. The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth. In Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy: Essays from the Sixth RFF Forum, ed. H. Jarrett, 3–14. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chaplin, J. 2016. The Global Greening of Religion. Palgrave Communications: 1–5.

    Google Scholar 

  • Crutzen, P.J. 2002. Geology of Mankind. Nature 415: 23.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dalai Lama. 1993. The Sheltering Tree of Interdependence: Buddhist Monk’s Reflections on Ecological Responsibility. https://www.dalailama.com/messages/environment/buddhist-monks-reflections. Accessed 23 July 2021.

  • Dasgupta, P., and V. Ramanathan. 2014. Pursuit of the Common Good. Science 345: 1457–1458.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dawkins, R. 2006. The God Delusion. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Di Vecchio, K. 2018. Interreligious Environmentalism: Pragmatic Projects and Moral Competencies That Address Climate Change. The Journal of Interreligious Studies 22: 46–63.

    Google Scholar 

  • Diamond, J. 2005. Collapse. How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dunlap, T.R. 2006. Environmentalism, a Secular Faith. Environmental Values 15 (3): 321–330.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ehrlick, P.R. 1968. The Population Bomb. New York: Ballantine.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ehrlick, P.R., and A.H. Ehrlick. 2016. Population, Resources, and the Faith-Based Economy: The Situation in 2016. BioPhysical Economics and Resource Quality 1 (3).

    Google Scholar 

  • Francis, Pope. 2015. Laudato si’: On Care for Our Common Home. Rome.

    Google Scholar 

  • Global Buddhist Climate Change Collective. 2015. Buddhist Climate Change Statement to World Leaders. https://gbccc.org/. Accessed 25 Apr 2021.

  • Gottlieb, R. 2006. A Greener Faith. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Gould, S.J. 1999. Non-Overlapping Magisteria. The Skeptical Inquirer 23 (4): 55–61.

    Google Scholar 

  • Haberl, H., M. Fischer-Kowalski, F. Krausmann, J. Martinez-Alier, and V. Winiwarter. 2011. A Socio-Metabolic Transition Towards Sustainability? Challenges for Another Great Transformation. Sustainable Development 19 (1): 1–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hart, J. 2006. Sacramental Commons. Christian Ecological Ethics. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ives, C.D., and J. Kidwell. 2019. Religion and Social Values for Sustainability. Sustainability Science 14: 1355–1362.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iwaniec, D.M., et al. 2020. The Co-production of Sustainable Future Scenarios. Landscape and Urban Planning 197: 103744.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jewish declaration on Nature. 1986. http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=159. Accessed 23 July 2021.

  • John Paul II. 1990. Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace: Peace with God the Creator, Peace with All of Creation. https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/messages/peace/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_19891208_xxiii-world-day-for-peace.html. Accessed 23 July 2021.

  • Johnston, L.F. 2014. Sustainability as a Global Faith? The Religious Dimensions of Sustainability and Personal Risk. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 82 (1): 47–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Joint Appeal by Religion and Science for the Environment. 1992. https://www.bnl.gov/envsci/schwartz/jointappeal.html. Accessed 17 July 2021.

  • Kemp, R. 1994. Technology and the Transition to Environmental Sustainability: The Problem of Technological Regime Shifts. Futures 26 (10): 1023–1046.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Livingstone, D.N. 2011. Which Science? Whose Religion? In Science and Religion Around the World, ed. J.H. Brooke and R.L. Numbers, 278–296. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lovelock, J. 2000. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Macintyre, A. 2001. Dependent Rational Animals. Why Human Beings Need the Virtues. Chicago: Open Court.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maniates, M., and J.M. Meyer, eds. 2010. The Environmental Politics of Sacrifice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Martínez-Alier, J. 2014. The Environmentalism of the Poor. Geoforum 54: 239–241.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Max-Neef, M.A. 2005. Foundations of Transdisciplinarity. Ecological Economics 53: 5–16.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moon, J. 2015. Climate Change and the Apocalyptic Imagination: Science, Faith and Ecological Responsibility. Zygon 50 (4): 937–948.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Morin, E. 1996. El pensamiento ecologizado. Gazeta de Antropologia 12 (1): 1–8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morton, T. 2012. The Ecological Thought. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Naess, A. 1973. The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement. A Summary. Inquiry 16 (1): 95–100.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Neumayer, E. 1999. Weak Versus Strong Sustainability: Exploring the Limits of Two Opposing Paradigms. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Brien, K. 2018. Is the 1.5°C Target Possible? Exploring the Three Spheres of Transformation. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 31: 153–160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Odum, E.P. 1977. The Emergence of Ecology as a New Integrative Discipline. Science 195: 1289–1293.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Oelschlaeger, M. 1994. Caring for Creation: An Ecumenical Approach to the Environmental Crisis. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peters, T. 1998. Science and Religion: Toward Consonance. New York: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pointing, C. 1991. A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations. London: Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rasmussen, L. 2013. Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rockström, J., et al. 2009. A Safe Operating Space for Humanity. Nature 461: 472–475.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rolston, H. 1988. Environmental Ethics: Values in and Duties to the Natural World. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Steffen, W., W. Broadgate, L. Deutsch, O. Gaffney, and C. Ludwig. 2015. The Trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration. The Anthropocene Review 2 (1): 81–98.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stenmark, M. 2004. How to Relate Science and Religion: A Multidimensional Model. Cambridge: Eerdmans.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tatay, J., and C. Devitt. 2017. Sustainability and Interreligious Dialogue. Islamochristiana 43: 123–139.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tucker, M.E. 2003. Worldly Wonder: Religions Enter Their Ecological Phase. Chicago: Open Court.

    Google Scholar 

  • United Church of Christ. 1987. Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States. A National Report on the Racial and Socio-Economic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites. New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • United Nations. 2015. Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • von Wehrden, H., von Oheimb, G., Abson, D. J., Härdtle, W. 2016. ‘Sustainability and Ecosystems’. In H. Heinrichs, Martens, P., Michelsen, G., Wiek, A. (eds). Sustainability Science. An Introduction. New York: Springer, 61–70.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • White, L. 1967. The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis. Science 155 (3767): 1203–1207.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • World Council of Churches. 1983. Gathered for Life. Official Report: VI Assembly World Council of Churches. Geneva: WCC.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jaime Tatay .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Tatay, J. (2022). Images, Metaphors, and Models in the Quest for Sustainability: The Overlapping Geography of Scientific and Religious Insights. In: Fuller, M., Evers, D., Runehov, A. (eds) Issues in Science and Theology: Creative Pluralism? . Issues in Science and Religion: Publications of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology, vol 6. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-06277-3_18

Download citation

Publish with us

Policies and ethics