1st Edition

God and Gaia Science, Religion and Ethics on a Living Planet

By Michael S Northcott Copyright 2023
    282 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    282 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    God and Gaia explores the overlap between traditional religious cosmologies and the scientific Gaia theory of James Lovelock. It argues that a Gaian approach to the ecological crisis involves rebalancing human and more-than-human influences on Earth by reviving the ecological agency of local and indigenous human communities, and of nonhuman beings.

    Present-day human ecological influences on Earth have been growing at pace since the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions, when modern humans adopted a machine cosmology in which humans are the sole intelligent agency. The resultant imbalance between human and Earthly agencies is degrading the species diversity of ecosystems, causing local climate changes, and threatens to destabilise the Earth as a System. Across eight chapters this ambitious text engages with traditional cosmologies from the Indian Vedas and classical Greece to Medieval Christianity, with case material from Southeast Asia, Southern Africa and Great Britain. It discusses concepts such as deep time and ancestral time, the ethics of genetic engineering of foods and viruses, and holistic ecological management.

    Northcott argues that an ontological turn that honours the differential agency of indigenous humans and other kind, and that draws on sacred traditions, will make it is possible to repair the destabilising impacts of contemporary human activities on the Earth System and its constituent ecosystems. This book will be of considerable interest to students and scholars of the environmental humanities, history, and cultural and religious studies.


    1. From Deep Time to Ancestral Time

    2. In Borneo

    3. Diversity and Development

    4. Reverse Engineering Life

    5. Biosecurity, Covid-19 and Human-Earth Healing

    6. The Earth as Gaia

    7. Gaia and Religions

    8. Gaian Ethics



    Michael S. Northcott is Professor Emeritus of Ethics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland; and Guest Professor at the Indonesian Consortium of Religious Studies, Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and the Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, Belgium.

    “In this stimulating collection… [Michael Northcott] makes extensive and welcome connections with other Western and Eastern faith traditions and shares Pope Francis’s plea for them to cooperate to make the Earth more sustainable for future generations. He also uses his newfound academic freedom to roam, in order to collect examples of sustainable and unsustainable farming across the world, placing his own photographs of them alongside his passionate text. He is never dull. A book well worth pondering and buying.”  

    Robin Gill in an excerpt from Theology, 2023, Vol. 126(5)