Religion has nothing to do with ecology at a glance. There are many non governmental organizations that have been focusing on advocating the society from the decay of nature because of companies or corporations. But, like or dislike, many religious men are also involved in that issue indirectly. Many scholars or theologians try to elaborate the relation between religion and ecology. Few of their outlooks and what I have got after joining the conference will be cited in this article.
This article tries to combine my experience in joining the conference and the ideas of many scholars who have been focusing on this issue. Perhaps we will know what we should do in term of climate change and biodiversity conservation. Therefore I would like to share what I have achieved in Islander, Sri Lanka.
The conference starts from the restlessness of some people who devote their concerns to ecological crisis. They see that religions must do something in order to save the nature. According to them, religious leaders have the big role to guide their communities. Consequently, the conference was titled by “Inter-Religious Dialogue on Climate Change and Biodiversity Conservation”.
The conference was held by INEB (International Network of Engaged Buddhist) on 23-27th September 2012 in Islander Centre, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. The objective goal of the conference is to inspire a commitment by Buddhist clergy, lay people, and other faith leadership to engage with the core drivers of declining biodiversity and climate change, in cooperation with scientist, conservationist, and policy makers. The participants were asked to do what they have got concretely because it was not talking conference but it is working one.
Furthermore, the conference had three different elements which need to be understandable and relevant to the participants (i.e. in a language which they can understand, interrogate, and integrate into their current world view and engagement strategy): (1) understanding the drivers of climate change and biodiversity loss; (2) articulating religious interpretation of the causes, effects, and change theory; (3) initiating a social, political, and economic analysis of the hindrances holding back national and global action on these drivers, and being able to describe the viable, alternative models for sustainability and rehabilitation; (4) developing an initial road-map for inter-religious cooperation, particularly in the Asian context to engage in appropriate action to bring about socially just, sustainable, and conserving human conduct. The fourth aim will focus on the conference to define possible actions and a will to cooperate.
What we have achieved from the conference is what we call as ecological crisis and how religious leaders respond to that issue. In other words, the main issue or problem we are trying to solve is the decay of ecology. Ecology is one of many problems in modernity. In the past, ecology was not found as a problem but it is in contrary now. Human beings have been exploiting the ecology and causing many natural disasters. This circumstance pushes them to reinterpret the tenets of their religions. Moreover, the ecological crisis is undisputed now. Slowly the nature will be destroyed and many species of animals will extinct if we do not solve its problem as soon as possible.
Muslim scholars have been putting their concerns on this issue. Kaveh L. Afrasiabi sees that the issue is really related to the understanding of religion. The understanding of religion is not merely about the salvation that interconnects to eschatology. It is also about the preservation of nature.
Actually the ecological crisis is an outward manifestation of a crisis of mind and spirit. There could be no greater misconception than to believe that it is concerned only with endangered wildlife, man-made ugliness, and pollution. We recognize that the Earth’s resources and ecological problems, as well as the possible solutions, are interconnected in complex ways that we are only beginning to understand. With this recognition, and the knowledge that we must seek God’s guidance, it is hoped that people will begin to understand and care a little more about environment/nature.
In every religion, human beings are bestowed by God to take the advantage of nature for their lives. In the past, they cut many trees and took oil from the earth. It does not matter because it did not destroy the ecology.
In term of religious teaching, we might cite what Afrasiabi has offered. The religious response to ecological criticisms has taken two forms: (a) a defense of religions based on an alternate reading of each religion and religious history; (b) moves toward the construction of a viable religious conception of nature.
The two forms are the best steps to solve the problem of exploitation and the problem between human and nature. The alternate reading religious history will bring us to new interpretation to nature and ecology. Although God bestows human beings on taking the advantage of the nature, it does not mean that human beings will do everything without considering the ethical concerns of ecology.
Afrasiabi offers us new perspectives by using “ecotheology” to rethink the real existence of human being. “Ecotheology” is a terminology that mixes ecology and theology. Hopefully religious people will understand the significance of preservation of nature. In other words, the conference plays its relevance and it did not go to waste.