An energy Primer: From thermodynamics to theology

Zygon 46 (4):890-914 (2011)
Abstract Scientific, technological, ethical, and religious issues confronting the human prospect are emerging as we encounter the inevitable shift from fossil to renewable fuels. In particular, we are entering a period of monumental transition with respect to both the forms and use of energy. As for any technological transition of this magnitude, ultimate success will require good ethics and religion, as well as good science and technology. Economic and political issues associated with energy conservation and renewable energies are arising in the context of climate change, sustainability, and human purpose. Specifically, we must consider (1) ethical and religious perspectives which might guide future energy choices and (2) energy choices which, in turn, might challenge ethical and religious perspectives. In this paper, I set the stage for subsequent articles by introducing thermodynamic and theological considerations relevant to our energy future. Scientific and technological aspects are covered within the context of the first and second laws of thermodynamics. Ethical and religious aspects are covered within the context of basic philosophical and theological motifs within our secular culture. My intention is to provide the necessary background, motivation, and perspectives for a fuller discussion of pertinent issues in the remainder of the conference papers
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