I’m not a big fan of the guy who lectures in one of my current classes. I asked him recently to consider the unacceptably low mark I received recently on a test over material which is fairly basic. I pointed out that his questions have been worded in a way that prompts a normative response. If his normative position differs from mine (it does), he can simply deduct points for that reason. In other words, I am meant to give the answer which he would give.
In one instance, when I explained how the word I used was accurate to summarize Eco-centrism, he replied that the world “spiritual” might have been acceptable but the word I chose, “religious”, was too loaded. By that, I imagine he means that he would rather not be associated with people for whom he has so little regard. On the left, he imagines, they don’t have dumb ‘ole Christian faith. They belong to the one true faith.
During the subsequent lecture, he shared with us his response to a professor from the philosophy department (the one that deals with logic) who had pointed out his complete lack of argument to support the idea that nature has intrinsic value, or that there could be such a thing as intrinsic value. “I told her; I don’t need proof. I just… know.” He was proudly grinning ear to ear as he said this.
After that, he showed a film which focused largely on the eco-centric founder of Sierra Club, John Muir. The film stated that, in opposition to the damning of Hetch-Hetchy in southern Yosemite valley, John Muir had declared it a temple as worthy of protection as the great Christian cathedrals.
For those of you who haven’t been subjected to the silly vocabulary thrown around at liberal arts schools, here is a telling excerpt from a description of Eco-centrism written by Dr. Kauffman from the University of San Diego;
“The classic conception of ecocentrism is found within the philosophical field of environmental ethics. Environmental ethicists articulate moral norms to govern our actions with nature.”
Now, compare that with some of the definitions for “Religion”
Dictionary.com – A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects
Oxford English Dictionary – A particular system of faith and worship OR A pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance
When I made my case for the accuracy of my chosen adjective, this professor seemed to think it was beside the point. “No scientist of environmental studies would use that word to describe himself”, he replied. I expect he is mistaken and there are at least a few who would concede that their position is a religious one. Either way, I don’t see how it is relevant.