TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS are everywhere on the decline, and yet interest in “spirituality” is steadily increasing. At the same time, concerns about the environment and the planetary ecosystem are also rising, especially with the growing awareness of the risks of climate change. Thus, it is natural that we look to combine these two areas of interest: the intersection of religion and environmentalism.
It was precisely this kind of thinking that led prominent eco-philosopher Henryk Skolimowski to develop, beginning in the 1980s, a new concept that he called “eco-theology.” Inspired by the earlier works of Teilhard and Bergson, Skolimowski realized that the idea of evolution was much more far-reaching than merely a theory about biology. Evolution encompassed not only all life, but also the Earth as a whole, the origins of the planets and stars, and indeed the universe as a whole. More to the point, it must encompass all aspects of humanity and human culture, including such traditional concepts as God and religion. Simply stated, if everything evolves, then religious truth must evolve, spirituality must evolve, and even God must evolve. These basic insights have far-reaching consequences.
Eco-theology fully integrates humanity into the natural world. We are not some mysterious strangers to the universe, not divinely created with utterly unique properties, not here to exercise our “dominion.” We are part and parcel of the world. We came from the Earth, and we belong to the Earth. The cosmos is our home. The world is a sanctuary. There is indeed ‘god’ and divinity in this evolutionary universe, but such things reside in us; we make them real by manifesting our best and highest qualities.
Skolimowski thus offers us something startlingly new: a “religion for our times.” This is no New-Age philosophy, no fuzzy-headed wishful thinking. This is serious philosophical innovation by an Oxford-trained philosopher, in an area of gravest concern. Eco-theology is badly needed today; our very survival depends on it.