Каталог статей из сборников научных конференций и научных журналов- Orthodox ecological theology in the system of social development

VII международная научно-практическая конференция
Религия – наука – общество: проблемы и перспективы взаимодействия

Orthodox ecological theology in the system of social development

O. Yu. Kolosova, Doctor of Philosophical Sciences, assistant professor,

Stavropol branch of Krasnodar University of

the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation,

Stavropol, Russia


The modern ecological situation represents a result of social and economic development of the world community directed to the material consumption which has made minor spiritual aspects of life and planned symptoms of spiritual crisis [14, p. 39–44]. New European culture has considered that spirituality will come with growth of material well-being, but it didn't happen. Material progress of consumer civilization cannot but lead to crisis because material requirements can grow infinitely, being in a conflict with opportunities of the biosphere to satisfy them [15, p. 82–89].

The fact that search of the solution of all complex of modern problems consists in the ways of spiritual revival of person and society is recognized [11, p. 29–31].

From the second half of the XX century many representatives of the nature protection movement ask about importance of integration, interaction of ecological and religious consciousness, possibility of inclusion of religion to nature conservation [8, p. 18–22]. In this regard a wide range of philosophers, publicists, writers, and politicians show keen interest in religious traditions which are keepers of values and are designed to extend them, give to next generations. Achievement of this purpose will depend on how successfully we will adapt traditional values for modern kinds of activity and forms of social life [16, p. 241]. Modern kinds of activity occupy only certain spheres of social life - they are economy and finance, political system, technology, science and some spheres of legal regulation [7, p. 139–144]. Behind traditional spheres remain world worldview and existential problems, interpersonal relations, family, spiritual unity of society. There is difficult interaction between traditional and modern elements [4, p. 118–124].

Problems of interaction of religion and ecology, their integration are discussed by theologians of all branches of Christianity and other religions. First of all, they consider possibility of preservation of biological resources of the biosphere. Adepts of religious beliefs think that only religion is that factor which will bring mankind out of ecological crisis. They believe that modern science can't help a person to solve this problem. Moreover, they accuse science of all present troubles of mankind. Church holds an opinion that mind has to keep within knowledge limits not to die (St. Kallist Katafigiot). Under this measure they understand evangelical principles of life which form a basis for man of science, whereby he, comprehending the world, would never use knowledge and forces, which has opened to him, with evil intent.

Such a world in compliance with Christian views represents not lifeless moving system, heartless mechanism or an object for experiments, but live expediently arranged complete organism demanding reasonable and reverential relation from a man.

From the second half of the XX century theologians of Russian Orthodox Church began to participate actively in discussion of ecological situation which has developed in the world. Church has a special aspect of activity in this matter – spiritual and moral. Russian Orthodox Church addresses the issues of reasons of present ecological state of nature, need of inclusion of the ecological ideas in believers worldview.

Theologians of Eastern Orthodoxy place emphasis, mainly, on their concern for present state of nature. They state the global nature of the arisen degradation of all components of biosphere, exhaustion of its nonrenewable resources, reduction of fresh water, accumulation of substances in biosphere, harmful to it. From this they conclude that biosphere is on a threshold of global environmental disaster.

The reason of this, from theologians point of view, is fall of man and his alienation from God, happened in prehistoric times. Even at that time people, instead of cultivating and storing all that was created by God, treated the world surrounding them in terms of power and violence. Further deepening of such relation of the person to the environment has caused ecological crisis. All crisis situations appearing in the world are proclaimed to be divine punishment. Considering that a sin has considerably complicated initial way of interaction of a man and nature, orthodox theologians connect negative consequences of impact of the person on nature directly with withdrawal of the person from truly Christian principles. Hierarchs of Orthodoxy seek to prove that if mankind observed the basic divinely instituted principles of relation to environment, it would never face those problems of environmental management which have unprecedented sharpness today. Orthodox theologians, as well as representatives of other directions of Christianity, consider that one of the reasons of ecological crisis is refusal of the principles of Christian asceticism which limits human wants to the most necessary for life. In this regard Orthodox thinkers, without being limited by the general appeals to improvement of the religious and moral relations, put forward principle of Christian asceticism, speaking about nature.

This puts people before need to reconsider their relationship with natural world. People begin to understand need of acceptance of effective measures cessation of processes of degradation in nature [10, p. 37–40]. These measures are change of methods of managing, creation of resource-saving technologies and waste-free productions, implementation of ecological education and education of all groups of the population [12, p. 282–284]. However all these measures have initially been proved in the system of scientific knowledge. The Orthodox Church appreciates them.

Orthodox theologians believe that nature isn't conglomerate of various structural elements. According to them, in natural world everything is interconnected therefore nature is not a receptacle of resources intended for egoistical and irresponsible consumption, but a house where a person is not an owner, but a housekeeper and also a temple where he is a priest, an employee, however, not to nature, but to the single Creator. Serving Creator, a man will serve also nature. So the Russian Orthodox theology explains its point of view for a role of the person in nature. It considers, that all troubles of nature "contain in a human soul, but not spheres of economy, biology, technology or policy". Owing to this fact transformation of nature has begins with transformation of man’s soul. Theologians of Orthodoxy consider religious and moral improvement of the person and society one of important factors of the solution of environmental problems. But their improvement has to begin with overcoming human depravity.

Ecological theology as a direction of religious thought, is engaged into the system of public consciousness, and promotes formation of its ecological form. Ecological theology is defined as a set of ideas of state of nature, character of relation of a person to it in past, present and future, penetrated by an idea of God as a creator of nature and its ruler.

Some representatives of ecological theology of Orthodoxy connect success of the solution of modern problems with enhancement of the monastic movement and expansion of network of monasteries. Life in monasteries and use of the soil by monks is a sample of the relation of a person to nature. Monasteries act as beacons on the way of rescue of mankind from death.

Certainly, it is necessary to recognize useful cooperation of Orthodox Church with public institutions in ecological education which purpose has to be training in intelligent understanding of nature, careful attitude of the person to the world and at the same time improvement of inner world of a person [3, p. 80–85]. In this plan ecological education acquires a status of a backbone factor of education now in general, defines its strategic objective and leading directions [13, p. 73–78]. Global biospheric education within modern ecological culture promotes understanding by the person of role and responsibility in overcoming global problems of present, choice of a way of life which corresponds to the principles of ecological and moral imperatives [9, p. 123–128].

Undoubtedly, it is necessary to see positive sides in contents of the modern religious doctrines mentioning an ecological perspective. So, justification by representatives of ecological theology of essential importance of improvement of technologies of productions of goods, their inclusions in circulation of substance of biosphere, need of implementation of ecological education, spiritual development of the modern person and society, increase in moral and legal responsibility for the harm done to the nature, deserve attention [2, p. 142–145]. Bringing these and other provisions of ecological theology to consciousness of religious and atheists, will promote increase in level of their ecological consciousness. Besides, they will also become a factor of growth of their activity in the movement on environment protection [1, p. 83–86].

New approach to religious traditions, revaluation of importance of the basic values of Orthodoxy which have defined rod spiritual orientations is necessary. Modern society has to be main objectives of religious traditions: maintenance of balance, synthesis, balance of values of rational and technological and traditional institutes [5, p. 43–46]. If process of creation of new institutes, norms and forms of communication is made not on denial of religious bases, but, on the contrary, on their organic inclusion, then traditional norms and values will receive new reading and play a positive role in transformation of modern society [6, p. 27–30].


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