Environmental Decline and the Rise of Religion



Abstract. Historically, crises have spawned deliberate, widespread efforts to change a culture's worldviews. Anthropologists have characterized such efforts as “revitalization movements” and speculated that many of the world's religions, including Christianity, arose through revitalization. Some responses to the planet's environmental crisis share the characteristics of both a revitalization movement and an incipient religion. They call for a science-based cosmology and an encompassing reverence for nature, and thus differ from responses to environmental decline offered by traditional religions. As environmental problems deepen, historical precedent suggests that religious shifts in affected cultures may follow.