Edinburgh Research Explorer

Climate change and Christian ethics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religion and Ecology
EditorsJohn Hart
ISBN (Electronic)9781118465523
ISBN (Print)9781118465561
Publication statusPublished - 7 Apr 2017


Christianity spawned the scientific revolution and capitalism, which between them have greatly extended human influence over the planet. Climate change, together with species extinction, reveals that this influence is so extensive that human pollution of the atmosphere is now modifying the Earth system. Christians were among the first to call for restraint on science, technology, and economic growth; the term “sustainable society” was first coined at a meeting of the World Council of Churches. Christian ethics has responded to the climate crisis with four claims. First, Earth is a divine creation, not owned by the present generation. Second, the ecological crisis is characterized by environmental injustice and exclusion. Third, humans are called to be makers; this is intrinsic to what it is to be human. But modern human making requires radical transformation so that it mirrors rather than subverts the natural laws of Earth. Fourth, the Church is called to exercise a graced ethical and spiritual mediation between God, humanity, and all beings, in her own life and in her witness to the nations.

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