Seminars discuss religion and nature


Published: Saturday, March 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 29, 2008 at 9:04 p.m.

The Christian Study Center of Gainesville will be hosting a series of Monday night seminars March 3 through April 7 on the complex relationship between religion, technology and nature.

Facts

Upcoming lectures

  • March 3: Bron Taylor, professor, UF Department of Religion, "Rethink Everything!: The Sustainability Challenge to Religious Ethics"


  • March 17: Anna Peterson, professor, UF Department of Religion, "Environmental Values and Local Practices"


  • March 24: Ed Barnard, forest pathologist, Florida Division of Forestry, "Forests, Forestry, Environmentalism and Technology: A Christian Forester's Perspective"


  • March 31: Leslie Thiele, professor, UF Department of Political Science, "Prometheus Unbound: Technology, Ecology, and Narrative"


  • April 7: Calvin DeWitt, University of Wisconsin-Madison, "A Theological Ecology: A Christian Framework for Environmental Con-Service"

Each seminar, held at 112 NW 16th Street at 7:30 p.m., will consist of a guest lecturer and a discussion session.

According to Todd Best, the director of programming at the center, a 1967 essay, "The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis," by University of California-Los Angeles professor of medieval history Lynn Townsend White Jr., sparked the idea for the lecture series.

White argued that Judeo-Christian principles cause people to exploit the natural world because man sees himself prevailing over nature.

The Western hemisphere, dominated by these theologies, has created its technology based on moral ethics.

As a result, the roots of our environmental problems are greatly related to religion and technology, and the solutions must therefore be religious, according to White's essay.

"Our goal here is to explore Christian thought and academic discourse," Best said. "But we are not interested in a Christian-dominated conversation."

The lectures are open to the public, even to those who do not consider themselves religious.

The series of seminars will open the topics of religion and nature for discussion with professors specializing in religion, political theory and other related subjects.

Dr. Bron Taylor, a professor in the religion department at the University of Florida, will host a lecture entitled "Rethink Everything!: The Sustainability Challenge to Religious Ethics" on March 3.

He will lead a discussion expanding upon White's ideas.

Taylor suggests that religion isn't the only cause of environmental issues, but rather that ecological issues, such as the rapidly growing population, must be taken into account.

"People need to fuse ecological views with moral traditions," he said.

On March 17, Dr. Anna Peterson, a professor in the department of religion at UF, will speak about rural and agrarian religious-based groups in her lecture called "Environmental Values and Local Practice."

For example, the Amish population living in Ohio made a decision based on moral values in the early 1900s to not use automobiles because they felt cars would create less well-knit communities.

"The choice to not use automobiles was based on predictions about what would happen socially," Peterson said. "Now, we look back and see the environmental ramifications of automobiles have been huge."

The Amish have not contributed to environmental issues caused by cars simply because of long-standing traditions of the importance of community.

Dr. Leslie Paul Thiele, a professor in the political science department at UF, will host "Prometheus Unbound: Technology, Ecology, and Narrative," on March 31, in which he will speak about how mankind's power over nature is derived from its use of technology, and what we can do to fit into nature as opposed to dominate it.

The other lectures include "Forests, Forestry, Environmentalism and Technology: A Christian Forester's Perspective" on March 24 and "A Theological Ecology: A Christian Framework for Environmental Con-Service" on April 7.

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