The New Holy Wars: Economic Religion Versus Environmental Religion in Contemporary America

Overview

The present debate raging over global warming exemplifies the clash of two public theologies. On one side, environmentalists warn of certain catastrophe if we do not take steps now to reduce the release of greenhouse gases; on the other side, economists are concerned with whether the benefits of actions to prevent higher temperatures will be worth the high costs. Robert Nelson interprets such contemporary struggles as battles between the competing secularized religions of economics and environmentalism. The ...

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Overview

The present debate raging over global warming exemplifies the clash of two public theologies. On one side, environmentalists warn of certain catastrophe if we do not take steps now to reduce the release of greenhouse gases; on the other side, economists are concerned with whether the benefits of actions to prevent higher temperatures will be worth the high costs. Robert Nelson interprets such contemporary struggles as battles between the competing secularized religions of economics and environmentalism. The outcome will have momentous consequences for us all. This book probes beneath the surface of the two movements' rhetoric to uncover their fundamental theological commitments and visions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Nelson compellingly argues that religion is a powerful force in economic and social life, . . . even if that fact is seldom recognized by most academics and policy makers. The dominant religious influences are secularized versions of Catholicism and Protestantism, not because the leading scholars are piously trying to advance their faith by other means, but because their intellectual horizons have been shaped by worldviews that have framed their consciousness. He convinces me that unless these presuppositions are acknowledged, examined, broadened, and revised, the economic and ecological crises that the world now faces will not be understood or met at their deeper levels.”
—Max L. Stackhouse, Princeton Theological Seminary

“Anyone who wants to understand twenty-first-century politics should begin with The New Holy Wars, which makes clear the fundamental conflict between how economists and environmentalists see the world.”
—Andrew P. Morriss, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Though one might quibble with details here and there, the central contentions of The New Holy Wars are largely convincing. Its central thesis is incontrovertible. It should be required reading for orthodox religious believers so that they may know where the real challenges to their faiths lie.”
—Gerard Casey, Journal of Faith and the Academy

“Nelson makes an overwhelmingly persuasive case that in our times the leading secular religion was once economics and is now environmentalism. . . . Out of that utterly original idea for scholarly crossovers—good Lord, an economist reading environmentalism and even economics itself as theology!—come scores of true and striking conclusions. . . . It’s a brilliant book, which anyone who cares about the economy or the environment or religion needs to read. That’s most of us.”
—Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago

“This book is a good read for economists of all backgrounds and persuasions, including Christian economists, for several reasons. . . . the overall theme and theses of the book provide stimulating food for thought and insights into the possible ethical and philosophical drivers underlying the economic growth and environmental protection advocacy positions, movements, and policies in contemporary America.”
—John C. Bergstrom, Faith and Economics

“Robert Nelson argues that environmentalism is a religion. . . . This provocative thesis raises hard and embarrassing questions about the bases of environmentalism that every serious student of the subject must confront.”
—Dan Tarlock, Chicago-Kent College of Law

“This book should be of interest to a wide variety of audiences, not only to scholars of religion, but also to economists, environmentalists, and the general public interested in religion. It is highly readable and touches on many relevant and controversial issues in contemporary society, and concludes (most likely to the chagrin of economists and environmentalists) that these are religions like any other. For scholars of religion, it reminds us to reconsider the social movements of our time . . . many of which are not ’secular’ at all, but are saturated with adapted versions of traditional religious beliefs and practices.”
—Justin Farrell, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

“Significant University Press Title for Undergraduates.”

Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271035826
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 8/13/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,393,591
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert H. Nelson is Professor at the School of Public Policy of the University of Maryland and a Senior Fellow of The Independent Institute. Among his previous books is Economics as Religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond (Penn State, 2001).

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xxiii

Introduction: Economic and Environmental Religions 1

Part I The False God of Economic Salvation 19

1 What Is "Economic Theology"? 23

2 Theologies of 9/11 42

3 How Much Is God Worth? 58

4 Sustainability, Efficiency, and God 70

5 All in the Name of Progress 87

Part II Environmental Calvinism 103

6 Unoriginal Sin 112

7 Calvinism Minus God 131

Part III Environmental Creationism 161

8 Ecological Science as a Creation Story 170

9 Environmental Creationism and Christian Creationism 197

10 Re-creating the Creation 220

11 Environmental Colonialism: "Saving" Africa from Africans 257

Part IV Environmentalism and Libertarianism 277

12 Frank Knight and Economic Calvinism 282

13 Libertarian Environmentalism 303

Conclusion: Religious Challenges 332

Notes 351

Index 379

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