The Greening of Science and of

Sheldrake, even as spreading the blame for our present ecological crisis equally between religion and science, also sees signs for hope in both. He notices a "reanimation of the physical world" in recent science, which recognizes that nature is not tied down by external mechanical laws but is self-organizing from within: "Indeterminism, spontaneity and creativity have reemerged throughout the natural world. Immanent purposes or ends are now modeled in terms of attractors. And beneath everything, like a cosmic underworld, is the inscrutable realm of dark matter. All nature is evolutionary. The cosmos is like a great developing organism, and evolutionary creativity is inherent in nature herself"

(Sheldrake, 1991, pp. 41f). Some of today's physicists do not hesitate to ascribe consciousness to the universe (Kafatos and Nadeau, 1990). Ervin Laszlo's "Integral Theory of Everything" is based on the assumption that a cosmic consciousness informs everything, keeping an unbroken record of all that ever happened (Laszlo, 2006).

The discovery of an ecological dimension of religion has refocused the attention of the adherents of the various religious traditions on issues beyond the rumination over definitions of arcane elements of their creeds or the desire to narrowly demarcate their boundaries over against the "others." Reminding the world of the sacredness of nature, religious thinkers inject a personal dimension into a depersonalized science: reality is not exhausted by a description of its material components.

Seeing in the degradation of the environment not only the destruction of the basis of our physical lives but also an assault on the human spirit and the desecration of something inherently sacred, some are developing an ecology that includes science but that goes beyond quick technological fixes. David Suzuki, Canada's most prominent environmentalist, looking back on his own early career as a geneticist in the 1960s, remarked: "It is amazing, how much we accomplished and how little we understood" (Suzuki, 2002, Part I). Suzuki began to "understand" after coming into contact with the native Haida community, finding that the old creation myths had a better grasp of the "big picture" than modern science. James Lovelock, a biochemist by profession, struck by the interdependence of all components of our biosystem - the earth in conjunction with its creatures is actively creating and maintaining the conditions for the emergence and continuance of life - revived the ancient myth of the Greek Goddess Gaia to give a name to the "super-organism" that is earth.

Awe and wonderment, for Aristotle the source of philosophy, are returning to a science that believed that it had done away with all mysteries. Ernst Mayr, the great biologist-scholar confessed: "Virtually all biologists are religious in the deeper sense of the word, even though it may be a religion without revelation, as it was called by Julian Huxley. The unknown, and perhaps the unknowable, instills in us a sense of humility and awe" (Mayr, 1982, p. 81). Science is moving away from the mechanistic, materialistic, reductionist ideology that was adopted by nineteenth century theorists. Quantum Physics' principle of indeterminacy has overturned the old deterministic philosophy. Matter, once so confidently identified with reality as such, is dissolving into an ever-growing particle-zoo exhibiting short-lived bizarre phenomena. Though much more is known today about the chemistry of biological processes than a century ago, the belief in having solved the mystery of life by describing the physical-chemical processes in cells has been abandoned.

There is a new readiness among scientists and religionists to make common cause in the face of major challenges to the well-being of humankind: what could be a greater challenge that the impending climate-change? By providing a spiritual motivation to efforts to "save the earth," religious leaders can give a new dimension to the common endeavor and enlist a far greater number of people in the effort. Seeing something sacred in nature also widens the scope of environmentalism.

Increasingly, ecologists realize that our attitude to nature has much to do with our relationship to fellow-humans: living in peace with nature and maintaining peace among humans are strongly correlated! One of the documents that spells that out most clearly is the Club of Budapest's "Manifesto on Planetary Consciousness" that covers not only ecology in the more technical sense, but also world peace and the further evolution of humankind (Laszlo, 2008, pp. 133-139).

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