Is Zoroastrianism an Ecological Religion?
Subject Areas: Religious Studies
In recent years a number of Zoroastrian scholars have sought to characterize Zoroastrianism as the ‘world’s first environmental religion’, pointing to a number of rituals and injunctions aimed at safeguarding nature from activities seen as polluting. However, while the tradition does indeed enjoin Zoroastrians to respect and protect many aspects of nature, pollution is seen in ritual terms, not ecological ones. Moreover, in the dualistic Zoroastrian worldview which posits an ongoing struggle between the forces of good and evil, many animal and plant species are seen as being on the side of evil and are thus to be destroyed whenever possible. This worldview can at times set Zoroastrianism in opposition to that of contemporary science that, generally speaking, does not distinguish between good and bad species, but sees all as integral to the healthy functioning of ecosystems.
Author: Richard Foltz, Manya Saadi-nejad