REL 444

God in the Anthropocene

This course explores the relationships between conceptions of humanity, non-human nature, and religion from the vantage point of our era of climate change and environmental destruction. Proceeding from the insight that this era troubles easy notions of human separateness and superiority, students in the course ask how communities of religious practitioners and theorists understand this moment and seek to reorient human life amongst the earthlings.

¿Anthropocene¿ is a term that refers to the geological epoch marked by human domination of Earth. The term has been critiqued from a variety of scientific and non-scientific perspectives. Some have pointed out that the generic notion of ¿humanity¿ conceals the fact that not all people are equally responsible for the current crisis. Others have suggested that the term perpetuates the notion that humans are all powerful, even god-like, in their control of the environment. This course takes up these critiques, first, from the perspective of pre-modern religious texts that already destabilized the separation between humans and non-human nature. Then, it looks to how some modern theories of politics rested on theological notions of human dominion over the earth. Finally, students analyze how knowledges about environmental degradation have led people to reengage their traditions and practices towards new forms of survival and becoming.

Prerequisites: Two courses in Religious Studies or permission of the instructor.