Daoism and Nature

James Miller

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Ecology

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780195178722
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Daoism and Nature

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  • Religion
  • Religious Studies
  • East Asian Religions


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The sciences of evolution, ecology, and environment are ushering in a new understanding of the time, place, and responsibilities of human beings within nature. Evolution tells us that humans share the same genetic roots as other animals; ecology tells us that human life depends on plants, trees, and bacteria in a whole host of interlocking ecosystems; and environmental science makes it abundantly clear why we owe ethical obligations to the nonhuman world. This article examines the ways in which the religious and philosophical thinking of Daoism intersects more fruitfully than monotheistic religion or liberal secular humanism with the sciences of evolution, ecology, and environment. It demonstrates the possibility for a radically alternative worldview that can help human beings symbolize their time, place, and obligations in a way that accords more closely with science and can help nurture a sustainable future. The article concludes by discussing Daoism and nature in contemporary China.

Keywords: Daoism; evolution; ecology; environment; nature; science; human beings; China

Article.  7183 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; East Asian Religions

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