The Downsides of Religion on Environmental Matters: Gregory Bateson’s (1904-1980) Perspective

Great quote from Gregory Bateson in his classic book ‘Steps to an Ecology of Mind’ which may go some way to explaining the difficult Christianity sometimes has with environmental issues, though obviously many Christians get this issue of stewardship of the natural world, those that don’t may be suffering from what Bateson describes:

‘If you put God outside and set him vis a vis his creation and if you have the idea that you are created in his image, you will logically and naturally see yourself as outside and against the things around you. And as you arrogate all mind to yourself, you will see the world around you as mindless and therefore not entitled to moral or ethical considerations. The environment will seem to be yours to exploit. You survival unit will be you and your folks or conspecifics against the environment or other social units, other races, and the brutes and vegetables.

If this is your estimate of your relation to nature and you have an advanced technology, your likelihood of survival will be that of a snowball in hell. You will die either of the toxic by-products of your own hate, or, simply of over-population and over-grazing. The raw materials of the world are finite.’

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About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Book Reviews, Conflict Processes, Environmental Conflict, Religious Conflict, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Downsides of Religion on Environmental Matters: Gregory Bateson’s (1904-1980) Perspective

  1. louploup2 says:

    Congratulations on your traffic. I came to see what might have engendered such interest and revisited this page. I struggled with Bateson’s “Steps” in my 20s and never did read much of it. This quote is very perceptive and topical. Thanks for extracting and posting it.

    • @louploup2. Thanks. The posting that drove the traffic was the ratio of CEO to workers pay that someone put on Reddit. But of course it drove traffic to other postings. Bateson didn’t write to be easy to read for sure. One of my friends knew him in the 1960s and thought highly of him personally. They worked on prisoner release programs.There is a good but difficult book about Bateson’s environmental thinking that I don’t have the title to hand but it pointed me to the good bits in Steps.

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