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Dios no es argumento para nuestras reivindicaciones ecológicas

24 Octubre 2011

Catástrofes naturales. Foto de:

Peter Knauer SJ, 76, ha sido profesor de Teología Fundamental en la Facultad de Teología de San Georgen, Frankfurt, Alemania y actualmente es uno de los capellanes de las comunidades hispanoparlantes de Bruselas, Bélgica. Peter es un prestigioso teólogo y en esta ocasión comparte con Ecojesuit su visión de la relación entre teología y razón en el contexto de la crisis ecológica actual.

Peter ¿qué podemos aprender de Dios cuando afrontamos retos medioambientales como los actuales?

Los retos ecológicos son, como la ética en general, un objeto de razón y no de fe. La fe no los hace más urgentes de lo que ya son ni les de un carácter más obligatorio del que ya tienen. Pero la fe nos libera del poder que tiene esa inquietud sobre nosotros que está conectada con nuestra condición humana: vulnerable y mortal. En la fe experimentamos la libertad que nos permite definitivamente seguir nuestra conciencia.

El universo entero, incluida su creación, es un objeto de razón. Sólo la autocomunicación de Dios es objeto de fe. No podemos usar a Dios como un argumento para nuestras reivindicaciones ecológicas.

¿Cómo podemos articular la visión del Reino de Dios, que es un visión de construir comunidad, en este contexto de crisis medioambiental?

El Reino de Dios es la comunidad de fe; la fe relativiza el poder de esa inquietud sobre nosotros mismos que de otra manera nos impedirían seguir las razones dadas por nuestra conciencia ética. De una forma subsidiaria, la fe también contribuye activamente a favor de las obligaciones mismas de la razón, pero permanecen como obligaciones de la razón y no toman prestadas de la fe su elevado rango.

¿En qué sentido puede la Biblia reforzar nuestro compromiso para cuidad la tierra?

Desde luego en la Biblia encontramos argumentos para actuar razonablemente. Pero no deberíamos intentar dar a esos argumentos teológicos un rango de “mayor calidad”. Esto significaría que no tomamos seriamente los argumentos de razón.

¿Qué expresiones espirituales podrían ayudarnos a responder a la reconciliación con la naturaleza?

Siempre podemos alabar a Dios por la belleza de su creación. Pero esto no cambia el hecho que la ecología permanece una cuestión de razón. Sería un abuso de la palabra “Dios” intentar dar argumentos teológicos para la ecología. Pero reconociéndonos amados cada uno por Dios esto nos hace libres de esas raíces de egoísmo. El principio fundante de la ética es el principio de proporcionalidad, que nos da el criterio para reconocer la maldad de una acción, es decir, que al analizarla la reconocemos contraproductiva y destructiva en el largo plazo. De hecho más que cualquier consideración relacionada con la fe o la espiritualidad, la sostenibilidad es el principal argumento para la ecología.

Peter Knauer, SJ

Si estás interesado en conocer más sobre los trabajos de Peter Kanuer puedes visitar el sitio web También puedes contactar con él en peter.knauer(at)

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3 Responses to Dios no es argumento para nuestras reivindicaciones ecológicas

  1. John Moore en 2 Noviembre 2011 en 11:24 am

    I agree with most of the arguments put forward by Peter Knauer to support the position in environmental ethics often referred to as ‘anthropocentric’; however I find that one sentence stands out like a sore thumb, since it goes against all that I stand for as a Catholic ecologist. I find it very hard to accept his statement that “It is not possible to make use of God as an argument for ecological claims.” I would like to claim that, not only is it possible to use our (admittedly inadequate) notions of God in ecological pleading, but that in certain circumstances it is even necessary.

    The arguments put forward by Knauer apply well in most areas of ethics, but I claim that in Environmental Ethics we need some extra principle. It was Arno Naess and the followers of his “Deep Ecology” in the 1970s who highlighted the fact that standard consequentialist ethical arguments as applied to ecological problems were largely ineffectual, or mere oratorical ‘scare tactics’ such as the well-publicised slogan “better reduce our CO2 output or there will be big trouble”.

    The Deep Ecology principle “The wellbeing and flourishing of human and non-human life on Earth have a value in themselves” sounds very plausible until we start probing – “how do you know?”, “how does a thing get a value?”. In the ordinary world of commerce we accept the judgement of an expert, unprejudiced valuer: for example ‘This diamond is 3 times more valuable than that one’. But when we are dealing with ecological matters, is there any unprejudiced valuer available? I may value highly a woodland plot where I can walk and relax, where I can wonder at the complexity of the interactions between the different species making up that ecosystem. My next-door neighbour knows its value also: “the timber alone will yield $10,000 and I can resell the cleared plot at a considerable profit”. He may counter my arguments by suggesting that I pay an outlandish annual rent if I wish to continue enjoying my esoteric interests.
    If I try to convince him: “BUT, each creature in there has a value in itself – (he may not know what the word ‘intrinsic’ means) – he can reply “Prove it.”

    Where can we get an expert and unprejudiced valuer not just for my woodland plot but for all those 10 million or more living species? Even the ecologists cannot be trusted – I kill mosquitoes regularly! Anyone from the West is automatically excluded from being appointed, due the centuries of brain-washing we have been exposed to from the Judaeo-Christian ethic in its greed-coloured interpretation of the verses of Genesis “let them (humans) have dominion …. over all (these creatures) and subdue them”. When Lynn White analysed ‘The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis” in the early days of environmental ethics (1967) and claimed that the culprit was our Judaeo-Christian ethic, many of us Christian ecologists were outraged and sprung to the defence of our theology with slanted exegesis of the words of Genesis or the building up of a “Theology of Stewardship.” Re-reading White’s essay now after all the controversy has died down, it is obvious that it was a very perceptive piece of writing. White was writing as a historian who had specialised in the Medieval Period in Europe. He is reporting on how things were. Technology and Science did combine; exploitation of the world around us and the conquering of ‘Nature’ was the accepted scripture-supported morality.

    So it was obvious from White’s analysis that human beings were excluded from being expert and unprejudiced valuers of the intrinsic worth of creatures. So our only possibility of an unprejudiced, knowledgeable valuer is God the Creator himself, and He tells us clearly that they are all good.

    Such a theocentric ethic is, of course, of no relevance to the atheist or the agnostic. But should that force us, who have been given the gift of faith, to refuse to use it in case we might abuse the word ‘God’ as Knauer puts it? For me, my belief in God does far more than just free me from the roots of my greedy egoism (delightfully described as ‘anxiety for ourselves’ by Knaur). It is the very root of the protective and caring attitude I try to have towards every element of our ecosystems.

    Lynn White’s concluding remark in his “Roots” paper, makes eminent sense to me: “Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not”.

    John J. Moore, S.J.
    Jesuit Novitiate,
    Airport Road

  2. Peter Knauer en 27 Octubre 2011 en 8:22 pm

    When we distinguish reason and faith, not only in the way of knowing but also in the object (cf. Vatican I, DS 3015), reason is just the way of treating the world in a sustainable way. And faith (that we are assumed in the love between the Father and the Son) is the certitude which makes us not to give after to the anxiety for ourselves which is at the root of all unhuman behaviour and which hinders us to follow our conscience (= reason!). All unhuman behaviour is lacking proportionality: it is counterproductive in the long run and seen under an unrestricted viewpoint (which is the viewpoint of ethics).

    But there are no different “reasons”. What may then be the meaning of the question “but which reason?”?

    Reason consists in being attentive to reality, in whichever culture you live. And the revelation of God does absolutely not substitute the necessary use of reason nor does it in any way substitute arguments of reason, even not in subsidiary way. Faith helps reason, not by new arguments, but by delivering us through our communion with God from under the power of anxiety for our own little self.

    Theological arguments for ecology may often seem very pious; they cannot be but bad arguments and may be even a misuse of the word “God”. One cannot “utilize” God for arguments, if he is greater than all we can think. That God doesn’t fall under our concepts makes it impossible to make use of him in syllogisms.

    By the way, reason itself is created by God, but this is no argument to give more force to the arguments of reason. They must convince by themselves.

  3. Francesco en 24 Octubre 2011 en 9:15 pm

    ‘Ecological challenges are, as ethics is in general, an object of reason and not of faith’, ok; but which reason?
    The revelation of Jesus, the Logos, the Mediator of creation and lover of human kind, has but a subsidiar word to say about what reason is and what is reasonable?

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