Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime

Bruno Latour, trans. Catherine Porter
Published by Polity Press in 2017

The title of this review essay should challenge Christians as much as Bruno Latour’s Facing Gaia challenges nearly everything about modern society. Humanity has created a planet that is reacting very unfavorably toward its makers. Latour’s challenge—or rather, Gaia’s—is first to our belief that we are rational and second that our profound irrationality generates collective human actions that have created global environmental conditions that are sliding toward crisis-like ruin.

Latour, one of the most innovative and important thinkers of our time, demands that if we are to be realistic, we must face an Earth that—like the potential victim in a classic horror movie—is slowly turning to confront its abuser. Latour carefully explains how an “acting” Earth does not equal intentional action, but that it is action nonetheless. Latour calls Gaia a secular figure for nature (not “Nature”)1 that is responding to dysfunctional human activity pushing global conditions past the “safe operating space” for human civilization.2 This is “the Anthropocene,” wherein the aggregate impact of human activity—atmospheric carbon loading, species extinction and biodiversity loss, disruptions of the nitrogen cycle, resource overexploitation, and other large-scale ecological phenomena—is having effects at scales that extend to the planetary level.3 Gaia does not take the place of God. But humans are. This indictment is made by the scientific research showing the anthropogenic ecologies now developing. Modernity has disabled our creaturely perspective, Latour argues. And he asserts that Christians fail to recognize that humanity has usurped the Creator role by way of a particular mindset and associated practices that allow for remaking the planet in a human-dominated form. This is a ferocious challenge, especially for those who retain a religious anthropology that positions humans in a great chain of being. Where to place the planet—Gaia—in that scheme?

The eminence grise of science studies, Latour occasionally mentions his active Christian faith throughout his books and in interviews.4 Usually identified as a philosopher, Latour’s early works were anthropological and sociological studies of scientific practice, and his Ph.D. is in theology. He claims a particular interest in biblical exegesis and regularly attends services as a Roman Catholic. But like his science studies, he is not interested in a top-down approach to religion. Instead, he argues for understanding religion as a social phenomenon; when we talk about “God,” what does that do for us? A top-down approach would predict God saving us from this ecological folly we have visited upon all creation. Latour vehemently demands we face our own folly, and especially the hubris that positions humanity as the only creatures able to act upon a practical interest in the future of all creation. Modernity, again, is to be blamed for notions of the natural world as merely mechanical, to creation’s detriment.

Bruno Latour revolutionized the study of science in the 1970s and 1980s by conducting ethnographic research into the actual practices of scientists. His method was to ask, “What do scientists do?” rather than, “What is science?” “Science is what scientists do” is a statement of practice. “Science” is not a simple discernment of the facts of nature and the theories to describe such realities. Nor would this understanding allow for explanation of the preeminent place that science holds as the epistemic authority of our society. Latour’s scholarship morphed naturally into questioning the foundations of our understanding of the world. His most famous book might be We Have Never Been Modern (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), in which he resolutely critiqued the idea of modernity as a false ontology of the separation of human culture from nature, and the diminution of nature into an inert object only capable of being acted upon. Such a view allows technological prowess to control nature, replacing earlier cultural attitudes akin to partnering with nature. A result is the excessive valuing of science. In recent years, Latour has appeared to have a more conciliatory approach to science. He asserts that he was never against science, just concerned to make visible the processes which generate knowledge. Latour argues that the Anthropocene is an opportunity to listen to other ways of composing the world. From my perspective, this should include the diversity of Christian compositions. One profound example is Cherokee biblical scholar Randy Woodley’s attempt to draw on biblical exegesis and his indigenous culture to extend the goal of shalom to a broader framework of the community of all creation, and not the narrowed notion of the human community alone.5

Before venturing into the fraught terrain that the word “Gaia” in Latour’s title could provoke, let us consider the subtitle first. These “Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime” arose out of the 2013 Gifford Lectures, which for over a century have aimed to “promote and diffuse the study of Natural Theology in the widest sense of the term.”6 These eight lectures are substantial revisions of the original six. The “new climatic regime” is that the climate and planet are no longer the stable thing we had thought recently, that is, in the modern era.7 Since Latour refers to more than just climate change, “global environmental change” is the term I shall generally use. This new state necessitates a new “regime”; Latour, himself French, is intentionally invoking the French Revolution’s rejection of the ancien régime of absolute monarchic rule.

In Latour’s usage, “Gaia” is terminology for an acting and reacting “nature,” not merely a passive object manipulated by human systems. Latour is at pains to show that he does not mean either a god/goddess figure as per pagan Greece, or a self-aware, or even unified, planetary organism. It is not a stretch to claim pre-Enlightenment Christians comprehended nature in similar ways: consider “Mother Nature,” or even passages out of the Hebrew Psalms or Job in which natural things interact with their Creator. The raven nestlings cry out as if they know that God provides for their parents to feed them. So do lions. And even the trees clap their hands, and the mountains shout for joy. It is Modern thinking that frames these as mere poetic metaphor. In the Hebrew mind, all creation relates to its creator, as it does for many Christians of non-Western cultural backgrounds.8

Latour’s use of the term “Gaia” could feed mistaken assumptions that environmentalism is akin to nature worship. We need not see it this way. Latour uses the term to allow a (re)distribution of agency to elements of the natural world, which, he says in a parenthetical aside, “is basically the only subject of these lectures” (271). “Gaia” also has been used—with unintended controversy by scientist James Lovelock—for a self-regulating Earth system that maintains homeostasis, which has sometimes been misunderstood to imply the earth as a solitary living organism. Latour differs even from Lovelock’s theory of the biosphere as a single, indivisible unit of coordination. Instead, he sees Gaia as the aggregate feedback loops resulting from the activity of a myriad of organisms and processes, especially in reaction to the pressure exerted on previously stable conditions by human activity. Gaia is “the multiform reaction of the Earth to our enterprises” (94), meaning, we are in a crisis of our own human making. And, Latour insists, we are much too calm about it.

If it has not already become clear, let me state my understanding of global environmental change, especially given the contentious politics of climate change among some Christians (albeit primarily in the Anglophone countries of the global North). I am a social scientist who participates in research on the effects of global environmental change, such as changing climate, on human societies. I was originally trained as a wildlife zoologist and then switched into the social sciences, and I have published papers and co-edited one book on climate change and religion.9 As far as we can tell from the extensive research by physical scientists, there are widespread, global, even planetary changes taking place; debates within the physical sciences only exist on secondary details. Therefore, matters like a changing climate, widespread loss of biodiversity, significantly degraded ecosystems, and ocean acidification are facts of physical science.10 By these statements, I (nor anyone else, as far as I know) neither wish to close down legitimate physical scientific debate, nor undermine social scientific analyses of physical science practices as complicated human endeavors.11 I favor the words of philosopher Mary Midgely, who states: “We do not need to esteem science less. What we need is to esteem it in the right way.”12

Latour’s work on science is especially important because a proper understanding of science comprehends it as a human enterprise trying to understand material reality. This means that science is not some sort of pure, other-than-human activity which gives us ever more perfect and unadulterated truth. Neither does theology, by the way. Both arenas remain human endeavors—a combination of social practices, methods, and institutions in pursuit of better articulation of their subject matter. The “classical view” of science exalts it inaccurately and unnecessarily, making science open to accusations of its failure to be inhumanly ideal. This can be seen in the famous “climategate” affair, when hacked emails showed climate scientists in all their humanness.13 Critics then claimed that the imperfections invalidated the very enterprise of climate science. Numerous investigations by august scientific bodies showed that there was no wrongdoing, although some of the scientists were clearly cranky, petty, and petulant (that is, human). Better a realistic portrayal of how scientific practice operates, Latour argues. Better yet, a recognition that any science is inherently social and that some is even political. At the least, scientific description may have an implicit declaration of action needed. Latour uses the example of smoke detection; when smoke is detected, there is a pretty clear indication that further action is necessary. But this contradicts the classical view of science as inherently apolitical, because culture and nature are segregated in the constitution of modern society. Michael Northcott describes the conundrum: “To be modern then is to deny that the weather is political, or that politics influences the climate. To be modern is to deny that there is a God who is the author of Nature and culture.”14

Although Latour is often accused of undermining science (as if claiming that facts do not exist independent of human activity), this is a misunderstanding of what he has actually tried to accomplish with his social studies of the social institution and practice that we have come to know as Science. “Science” relies on a great deal of work by scientific institutions, funding agencies, conferences, disciplines that develop methodological and epistemological standards and train students in them, practices like peer review attempting to double-check and guard against poor quality research before it is published (albeit not perfectly, and with the occasional consequence of policing scientific disciplines from contrary but still rigorous scholarship and inscribing disciplinary hegemony), the reaction of media, the public, and other elements of human doings that collectively are what we know as science. And this process is what creates the facts that science presents. Facts and scientific theories (which explain the data collected by systematic methods) are solidified by this network of actors. But facts and theories are not created ex nihilo, so things of reality (that is, “nature”) are part of the processes. In other words, the objects that scientists study are also active components of these networks of scientific knowledge production, and even interact with other actors to produce the facts of the physical world. This does not mean parts of nature “think out” their actions, which is what we usually connote when we talk about agency (thereby unnecessarily limiting the term, for the most part, to human agents).

An example may help. For a wolf biologist, any wolf, the rest of the wolf pack, the prey animals, and even the landscape that these particular wolves interact within and with, as well as the radio collars, DNA analyses, and other tools, are actors in the network of wolf ecology science. A recent, excellent case study is the trophic cascades resulting from wolf reintroduction into Yellowstone National Park. In short, even the rivers changed due to the activity of wolves.15 Language shows the point: which terminology is more accurate? “The rivers changed,” or “the rivers were changed”? The latter connotes only being acted upon.

The networks that produce scientific fact are both an advantage and a disadvantage. Solid networks and their associated practices lead to robust facts and sound explanations of phenomena. However, solid networks are also resistant to change and to alternatives to accepted theories. The process Kuhn identified was how anomalies unexplained by existing theories in a scientific discipline would accumulate until a new theory better able to explain a greater amount of the data would be proposed. The acceptance of a new theory, however, was not merely dependent on the theory and the facts “speaking for themselves,” but also on social factors.

Obviously, religion is to some extent another epistemic authority. But so are anti-climate change think tanks, or anti-vaccine advocates, or books on young earth creationism, for example. Summarizing Latour’s approach, journalist Ava Kofman states: “With the rise of alternative facts, it has become clear that whether or not a statement is believed depends far less on its veracity than on the conditions of its ‘construction’—that is, who is making it, to whom it’s being addressed, and from which institutions it emerges and is made visible.”16 Science was already this way; science studies like Latour’s did not make it so. But we gain a much better understanding of the social processes with a Latourian method of analysis. The problem is that the usual response is as if these contestations were matters of epistemic accuracy, instead of epistemic authority based in epistemic communities (that is, social factors whereby particular actors and particular knowledges are given credence). More facts about climate change will hardly convince anyone whose mind is set. Thus, we have never been Modern, if to be modern is understood as exclusively rational.

Facing Gaia builds on this critique with a new urgency. It is due to Modernity, Latour argues, that human beings are enabled to do that which causes the problems of the planet. Modernity also disables our ability to see these problems for the crises they are, which means any responses will be primarily technological (like geoengineering or cloning extinct species) and an attempt at further control. Other analysts have argued that as the Enlightenment and Scientific Revolutions progressed in Europe, the natural world was increasingly de-sacralized. Latour frames this as the “de-animation” of nature.17 Similarly, for theologian Michael Northcott, Europe’s developing modernity allowed Immanuel Kant to exclude “non-human nature from construction of this new constitutional sphere,” and the way was cleared for the “domination of nature through empirical science” and technological control.18 Muslim environmental scholar Fazlun Khalid, in a new work on Islam and the climate crisis, also names de-sacralization and disconnection as causes of “an all-out war on the natural world”: “the loss of a sense of the Divine and the sacred, which kept us anchored within the limits of the natural world.”19 Khalid roots this loss in a Modern worldview: “to refer to our actions as human encroachment on the natural world is an indication that we have defined ourselves as the other. We cannot encroach on something of which we are already a part.”20 Khalid adds that the processes of colonization (in political, cultural, and economic forms) served to export Modernity around the world; colonized others were educated in European systems, leading to a sort of global monoculture accelerating ecological degradation and global inequality.21 Economic activity could proceed to extract natural resources without attention to effects other than provisional local ones. In religious terms, “Added to the forced separation of nature from culture, of science from politics, is the forced exclusion of a Creator who as the Incarnate God constructs nature and culture.”22 God becomes “the Deist’s outsider to Being and Time,” and humanity pretends to transcendence of nature’s limits.23 But we did not transcend. Paradoxically, therefore, global environmental change represents the unintended enhancement by modernity of Nature’s power over humanity, or, Latour argues, the reminder that despite modernity, nature never went away.

According to these analyses, even religion has become decidedly Modern. For both secular and religious Moderns, the purported inertness of the natural world means that it need not be morally considered and serves essentially as raw materials for humans to manipulate for economic growth and increased standards of living. For religious Moderns, there is an addendum to accommodate faith: the creation is stable because the Creator is omnipotent and we humans could never so alter what God has made.24 Ironically, scientists—the priests of Modernity—have become now the prophets of Gaia, as their research identifies the existential crisis that Moderns—whether secular or religious—no longer can see. Or, as Northcott describes, natural objects become “witnesses” and provide “non-human testimonies” (191).

Latour states that he “has an ear for religious questions” (179).25 Despite using the general term “religion,” Latour’s meaning is Abrahamic in general and Christian in particular: elsewhere he states that he speaks from within a particular tradition, not of religion in generalization.26 Latour does agree that “the religious origin of the ecological crisis is indisputable,” but for different reasons than the “overly famous” paper from 1967 making this claim.27 One could say that religious people first faced Modernity, and responded by becoming (or mostly becoming) Modern: “Sometime between the thirteenth century and the eighteenth, [religion] lost its way” (210). The antidote, Latour argues (citing Northcott), is for religion to recover its incarnationality, to be re-framed as lived, local, and communitarian, rather than “freeze-framed” as static and universal rationality.28 He favorably cites several theologians and is quite excited by Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical on the environment; indeed, Laudato Si’: On Care of our Common Home may be the most important item of ecological theology anyone in the Christian church has yet produced.29 It is eminently readable and appropriate for more than just Roman Catholics and not even Christians only since it is deliberately addressed to “all people of good will.” Khalid comments favorably on the encyclical, as did Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist leaders who released ecological statements in the months after its publication.

So now, in the face of the Anthropocene, whither religion or faith for the follower of the Christ? One conclusion is that “stewardship” is insufficient to face Gaia as it returns to the modernist attempt at control or management of nature (which is no longer in human control, if it ever was). A new ecological imaginary is needed to replace the “modern social imaginary.”30 It remains unclear whether religious traditions can move from a “light green” to a deeper green praxis,31 especially given the dramatic change needed in the face of the “great acceleration” of the numerous indicators of human impact that mark the Anthropocene. Latour states that revising politics of the earth depends on revising religion, but he does not explain how, other than his statement on incarnating as lived socio-ecological communions. Perhaps he means that religious worldviews could be strong enough to provoke strong political action.

By the end of Facing Gaia, Latour turns to politics, which he asserts would be better formatted as a multitude of different categories of individual actors who end up creating some kind of collective, albeit ever-changing and never stable, assemblages. Gaia is “the configuration of new political entities” (283). Latour’s political proposals revolve around revising the nation-state so that it has shared rather than exclusive sovereignty, meaning that there would be multiple and overlapping jurisdictions without hierarchical authority to control a specific territory. The failure of the nation-states to adjudicate effective action on climate change, fish stock collapses, or precipitous biodiversity decline are indications that an alternative is needed. Latour’s other substantive revision would extend political representation to additional actors: a direct role for civil society, as well as other-than-human entities (who will necessarily have to be represented in human political assemblies by humans speaking for them). These suggestions need better explication than Latour gives them in this volume.

Latour’s orientation is to see the entirety as composed of its parts, but not in the way of a system in which each of the parts has a pre-established function. Instead, all the parts interact to create the entirety, but they act based on their own character and interest, and so the entirety is created but it is never an integrated whole. The whole-in-the-parts can be seen in how humanity has been causing the Anthropocene. Humans are differentiated agents with differential impacts (the poor have less impact than the middle class and wealthy, the global South has had less historic carbon emissions than the industrialized global North, and so on), and yet despite all these different human actors human activity as a whole has been consequential for the planet. This is as close as Latour gets to equity issues, which I find deeply problematic. It means that it is too easy to assess blame to humanity as a whole, and equally easy to ignore or deny existing power relations and their manifestations. Latour’s political remedies would likely do the same. And any analysis of the Anthropocene needs to include an account of factors like colonization and the agential work of particular powerful actors in how modernity came to dominate the diversity of human cultures around the globe.

Latour’s most certain remedy is “demodernization and return to the earth” (282), which, again, will need to be unpacked and elaborated by others. For religious agents, he proposes some alterations in practice and belief. Gaia is, first of all, a figure of exegesis, a partner with which to re-read sacred texts. Environmental concerns have required Christians to ask new questions of old wisdom, thus finding new insights into human being. Khalid makes the same observation of Muslim interrogation of Qur’anic passages in light of the ecological crisis. Latour’s concrete recommendations for religious people are:

  1. Accept finitude—all humans are limited; this is the gift of incarnationality, and it constitutes genuine humility because it means none of us have all the answers.
  2. In much the same light, Latour notes that the Lenten trope “you are dust and to dust you shall return” is not considered a curse, but a blessing. This automatically positions us in all humbleness and joy as creatures who are part of the natural order.
  3. Another measure of humility, and repentance, is “to see the apocalypse we have visited on other creatures” (285).
  4. Most concretely, Latour insists that religions remove anything that is disembodied, or that does not center on an incarnational praxis. This is central to Northcott’s remediation too, but most Christianity would certainly resist such far-reaching changes to historic, traditional categories of systematic theology and practice.

This last item points out the main problem with Facing Gaia. I fear that it will not convince anyone who is not already ideologically oriented toward the severity of global ecological concerns. Increasingly in our day, we appear to be talking past each other. This is, of course, part of the Modern conundrum—an unwillingness to face the considerable evidence (and increasing experiential verity) of global environmental change because it is incomprehensible that the economic, political, and cultural foundations of our human ways are so fundamentally flawed. It does not help that the book is not easily read because of Latour’s own style (I do not think this is an issue of translation from the French), although being forced to read more slowly helped me better grasp its complex ideas. Maybe all we can hope for is that Facing Gaia will be added to the many other works being produced such that the that the terrain of debate slowly shifts toward a great transition of a level comparable from pre-modern societies to the present. However we place humans vis a vis the rest of creation, there is no doubt that we have responsibilities for loving and caring for and about God’s creation. And that is what makes the Anthropocene a call for repentance from Modernity.

Cite this article
Randolph Haluza-DeLay, “Anthropocene as Creator, Gaia as Creature”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 48:4 , 391–401

Footnotes

  1. My capitalization in this essay follows Latour’s. The capitalization of a word implies a proper noun, or at least that there is a precise thing to which the word refers. But “nature” is not so precise, nor a single thing. It means something like “all things that are natural,” which is a troublesome definition: does “natural” refer only to items like trees and lakes, or does it include humans? Beaver dams, yes, but what about human dams? And what about “human nature”? As will become clear, the excising of humans and human activity from “nature” is a feature of modernity and highly problematic.
  2. See Johan Rockstrom, et al, “Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity,” Ecology & Society 14 (2009).
  3. Will Steffen, Wendy Broadgate, Lisa Deutsch, Owen Gaffney, and Cornelia Ludwig, “The Trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration,” The Anthropocene Review 2 (2015): 81–98.
  4. Ava Kofman, “Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science,” New York Times Magazine, October 25, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/25/magazine/ bruno-latour-post-truth-philosopher-science.html. See also the third essay in Bruno Latour, On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), entitled “‘Thou Shalt Not Freeze Frame,’ Or How Not to Misunderstand the Science and Religion Debate”; and Steve Paulson, “The Critical Zone of Science and Politics: An Interview with Bruno Latour,” Los Angeles Review of Books, February 23, 2018, https://lareviewofbooks.org/ article/the-critical-zone-of-science-and-politics-an-interview-with-bruno-latour/.
  5. Randy Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2012).
  6. https://www.ed.ac.uk/arts-humanities-soc-sci/news-events/lectures/gifford-lectures.
  7. The planet’s climate was quite stable over the last 8,000 years, which is also the period that human civilization has developed. Perturbations like the Little Ice Age (approximately 1300-1870) are relatively minor compared to projections of the near future, of which recent increases of extreme weather fluctuation may be the early stages.
  8. See Brian J. Walsh, Marianne Karsh, and Nik Ansell, “Trees, Forestry and the Responsiveness of Creation,” in This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment, ed. Roger S. Gottlieb (New York: Routledge, 1996), 423-435; and Woodley, Shalom and the Community of Creation.
  9. Robin Globus Veldman, Andrew Szasz, and Randolph Haluza-DeLay, eds., How the World’s Religions are Responding to Climate Change: Social Scientific Investigations (New York: Rout- ledge, 2014).
  10. Debates in the public—even those purporting to contest the science—are of social scientific interest. Climate skepticism has repeatedly been shown to have very little basis in terms of natural science. Such skepticism lacks the elements of robust scientific research to undermine the epistemological and methodological practices of existing climate science. Nor are climate skeptics/deniers developing the sort of anomalies in our understanding of global environ- ments that might lead to alterations in basic understanding, as per the processes described a half-century ago by Thomas Kuhn for theory replacement and scientific paradigm shift.
  11. I would welcome participating in further discussion of these issues in the pages of this journal.
  12. Qtd. in William A. Stahl, Robert A. Campbell, Yvonne Petry, and Gary Driver, Webs of Reality: Social Perspectives on Science and Religion (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002), 35.
  13. Right before important United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, November 2009, documents and emails from climate researchers at the University of East Anglia were illegally accessed. A scientific conspiracy was asserted when a few suggestive quotes were published. For example, the term “trick” referred to “tricks of the trade” in handling techni- cal data, not subterfuge, and “decline” referred to decline in data quality, not temperatures. See https://www.skepticalscience.com/Climategate-CRU-emails-hacked.htm for basic and intermediate explanations of the purported controversy and references for the nine indepen- dent investigations that showed no scientific wrongdoing. The controversy is one of several factors that slowed anticipated progress for several years on international climate policy.
  14. Michael S. Northcott, A Political Theology of Climate Change (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2013), 46.
  15. Large ungulate prey species altered their behavior due to wolf presence, resulting in vegeta- tive increases in the valley bottoms, such that the rivers changed course and characteristics. https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/wolf-reintroduction-changes-ecosystem
  16. Kofman, “Bruno Latour … Mounts a Defense of Science.”
  17. For a historian’s analysis, see Carolyn Merchant, ed., The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980).
  18. Northcott, A Political Theology of Climate Change, 187.
  19. Fazlun Khalid, Signs on the Earth: Islam, Modernity and the Climate Crisis (Leicestershire, UK: Kube Publishing, 2019), 20.
  20. Khalid, Signs of the Earth, 65.
  21. Khalid finds evidence of this in that the Islamic prohibition against usury (which was prohibited also into the sixteenth century in Christian Europe) is hardly maintained even by Muslim financial institutions trying to compete in contemporary global financial systems. He frames his analysis of usury (ribā, literally, the creation of something from nothing) in the increasing momentum of global environmental history.
  22. Northcott, A Political Theology of Climate Change, 45.
  23. Ibid., 192.
  24. See Veldman et al, for a summary regarding how many religious people around the world believe that nature is affected by human immorality (such as sins of adultery and criminal- ity, but overconsumption is rarely identified). And yet, creation languishing and withering because of human sin (Isaiah 24:4-7; Hosea 4:1-3; and for comparison, see Qur’an 30:41) seems too peculiar to Moderns. Correspondingly, showing their Modern constitution of faith, Christian climate skeptics identify the impotence of humanity to so impact something as large and profound as God’s Earth.
  25. Contrast that with Jürgen Habermas, who says he is “religiously tone-deaf.” Craig Calhoun, Eduardo Mendieta, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, eds., Habermas and Religion (London: Polity, 2013).
  26. See Latour, On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods.
  27. Lynn White, “The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis,” Science 155 (1967): 1203-1207. The hypothesis that Christianity was the historical root of the ecological crisis was useful in provoking scholarship, but has been debunked by decades of biblical, historical, cultural, and sociological research. See Todd LeVasseur and Anna Peterson, eds., Religion and Ecological Crisis: The “Lynn White” Thesis at Fifty (New York: Routledge, 2016). Khalid refutes White’s claim by quoting Muslim scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s 1968 exposition in Man and Nature: “Neither Christian Armenia or Ethiopia or even Christian Eastern Europe gave rise to the science and technology which in the hands of secular man [sic] has led to the devastation of the globe.” Khalid, Signs on the Earth, 19.
  28. Latour, On the Modern Cult of the Factish Gods.
  29. Pope Francis Laudato Si’: On Care of our Common Home (2015). http://w2.vatican.va/con- tent/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html.
  30. Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004). My own attempt at an explanation of these terms is drawn from Colossians 1: Randolph Haluza- DeLay, “Making Peace with all Creation,” Peace Review 24 (2012): 171-178.
  31. Bron Taylor, Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010).3

Randolph Haluza-DeLay

The King's University (Edmonton)
Randolph Haluza-DeLay is Associate Professor of Sociology at The King’s University, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.