A Public Theology of the Anthropocene: The Earth’s Deep Freedom

By Dan Smyer Yü.
Religion and Development (2023): 1-28.

The environmental engagement of religious practices and academic research is becoming a formidable trend of global endeavors for building new environmental ethics in the Anthropocene, the currently human-induced geological state of the earth. This trend is predictable given the demographic fact that over 80% of the world’s population consist of different religious traditions. The UNEP Faith for Earth Initiative attests to this diversely represented, spiritual approach to rethinking the geological and ecological meanings of being human in the 21st century. In this context, this article is intended to initiate what the author calls a public theology of the Anthropocene to discuss the ecological implications and environmental values of religiously and spiritually conceived understandings of the Earth as sacred and sentient. To this end, it comparatively takes Buddhist and Christian approaches to environmental sustainability as case studies and argues that, theologically and environmentally complementary to one another, the Christian idea of the sacred and the Buddhist notion of sentience offer geologically- and ecologically-lively spiritual understandings of the scientific concept of Deep Time, regarding the intrinsic value of the Earth with a life of her own.

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