Original Research - Special Collection: Theology and Nature

Scientific data, ecological conversion and transformative affect

Nancy Howell
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 3 | a6518 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i3.6518 | © 2021 Nancy Howell | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 February 2021 | Published: 27 May 2021

About the author(s)

Nancy Howell, Department of Philosophy of Religion, Faculty of Theology and Religion, Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City, United States; and Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Scientific data supporting rational arguments for human-made causes of climate and environmental changes might be persuasive in some contexts. Law, policy, activism and The Earth Charter similarly appear insufficient to change attitudes and behaviours. Even biblical and theological arguments fail to move some Christians beyond apathy and climate denial. Decades of ecological theology and calls for ecological conversion suggest that appeals to reason and facts are limited without an affective epistemology that join knowledge and experience to produce worldview transformation through emotions, such as awe.

Contribution: Departing from appeal to scientific data and arguments alone, the primary claim is that ecological conversion is not singularly a rational act. For broader engagement and action to mitigate climate and environmental degradation, experiential and affective encounter with nature promise wider participation and transformation.


Keywords

awe; affective epistemology; climate change; The Earth Charter; ecological conversion; ecological theology; ecowomanism; environmental racism; liberation theology; process theology.

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