staggering fact; life renewed after death would be continuing miracle, but, just that: continuing miracle. My friends puzzle over my claim. "Well, I hadn't thought of it like that. You could be right. I agree that creation, or (they may prefer to say) nature is surprising. Still, science leads us to think that nature is all there is. Resurrection is supernatural, and..
thirsty, hot, tired, excited, sleepy. They suffer injury and lick their wounds. Sooner or later every biologist must concede that "care" is there. Call these "interests" or "preferences" or whatever; if "caring" is too loaded a term, then call these animal "concerns." Staying alive requires "self-defense." Living things have "needs." One of the hallmarks of life is that it can be "irritated." Organisms have to be "operational." Biology without "conservation" is death. Biology..
If one compares the general worldview of biology with that of theology, it first seems that there is only stark contrast. To move from Darwinian nature to Christian theology, one will have to change the sign of natural history, from selfish genes to suffering love. Theologians also hold that, in regeneration, humans with their sinful natures must be reformed to lives that are more altruistic, also requiring a change of sign. But the problem lies deeper; all of biological nature can (...) seem to run counter to what Jesus teaches: that one ought to lay down one s life for others. In nature, there is no altruism, much less kenosis. (shrink)
covenant. "Behold I establish my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and (...) every beast of the earth with you" (Gen. 9.9-10). In modern terms, the covenant was both ecumenical and ecological. However, the ecological dimension is usually forgotten; recalling it is worth a sermon. (shrink)
A sermon on the wonders of creation? "But I don't know if I believe in creation any more, since I've been studying evolution in school," "Well, you do still think that Earth is a wonderland, don't you? Is there anything you have learned in your biology class that has talked you out of that?" The college student home for Easter puzzles a moment. "Not really. You know, I was wondering during the last lecture before I left. Wow! How is it (...) that DNA has generated such a wealth of biodiversity on Earth?" Nature on Earth has spun quite a story, going from zero through several billion species, evolving microbes into persons. M. J. Benton concludes: "Analysis of the fossil record of microbes, algae, fungi, protists, plants, and animals shows that the diversity of both marine and continental life-increased exponentially since the end of the Precambrian."1 Andrew H. Knoll celebrates "Earth's immense evolutionary epic": "The scientific account of life's long history abounds in both narrative verve and mystery."2.. (shrink)
If you are puzzling whether to read this book, the main claim is right there in the clever title: The Open Secret. 'Ihe tensions Ã¢â¬â the contradictions, some will say Ã¢â¬â are built into the governing metaphor. An open..
Both science and ethics are embedded in cultural traditions where truths are shared through education; both need competent critics educated within such traditions. Education in both ought to be directed although moral education demands levels of responsible agency that science education does not. Evolutionary science often carries an implicit or explicit understanding of who and what humans are, one which may not be coherent with the implicit or explicit human self-understanding in moral education.
Few discussions of environmental conservation continue long without reaching the question "Why?", and the answers are seldom elaborated for long without reaching the question of values. What we wish to conserve depends on what we value. What we ought to conserve depends on what we ought to value. Environmental ethics is entwined with values carried by nature. What is of value there? How are values to be discovered and judged? That is a philosophical question.
On the scale of decades and centuries, ongoingscience is reconfigured into human history that must be interpreted. So I concluded two decades back: "Progressively reforming and developing theories are erected over observations.... This leads at a larger scale to progressively reforming and developing narrative models.... The story is ever reforming" (pp. 338 Ã¢â¬â 39). I faced the future with hopes and fears about the escalating powers of science for good and evil, finding it simultaneously powerless for the meaningful guidance of (...) life, the classical province of religion. So nowâhaving turned the millennium, what's new in the story? If I had to give a sound-bite answer (as we now must do with the media), my reply would be: increasing concern about human uniqueness and human respon-. (shrink)
Building on research in anthropology and philosophy, one can make a distinction between type I and type II energy ethics as a framework for advancing public debate about energy. Type I holds energy production and use as a fundamental good and is grounded in the assumption that increases in energy production and consumption result in increases in human wellbeing. Conversely, type II questions the linear relationship between energy production and progress by examining questions of equity and human happiness. The type (...) I versus type II framework helps to advance public debates about energy that address broad questions of profitability, regulation, and the environment, and in the process poses fundamental questions about the reverence for energy growth in advanced technological societies. (shrink)
Those residing in the Rocky Mountains enjoy both nature and culture in ways not characteristic of many inhabited landscapes. Landscapes elsewhere in the United States and in Europe involve a nature-culture synthesis. An original nature, once encountered by settlers, has been transformed by a dominating culture, and on the resulting landscape, there is little experience of primordial nature. On Rocky Mountain landscapes, the model is an ellipse with two foci. Much of the landscape is in synthesis, but there is much (...) landscape where the principal determinant remains spontaneous nature, contrasted with the developed, rebuilt landscape in which the principal determinant is culture. Life in the Rockies permits both use and admiration of nature (fruited plains), with constant reminders (mountain majesties) that the human scale of values is rather tentatively localized in a more comprehensive environment. (shrink)
Mendelian genes have become molecular genes, with increasing puzzlement about locating them, due to increasing complexity in genomic webworks. Genome science finds modular and conserved units of inheritance, identified as homologous genes. Such genes are cybernetic, transmitting information over generations; this too requires multi-leveled analysis, from DNA transcription to development and reproduction of the whole organism. Genes are conserved; genes are also dynamic and creative in evolutionary speciation—most remarkably producing humans capable of wondering about what genes are.
. Despite the classical prohibition of moving from fact to value, encounter with the biodiversity and plenitude of being in evolutionary natural history moves us to respect life, even to reverence it. Darwinian accounts are value-laden and necessary for understanding life at the same time that Darwinian theory fails to provide sufficient cause for the historically developing diversity and increasing complexity on Earth. Earth is a providing ground; matter and energy on Earth support life, but distinctive to life is information (...) coded in the genetic molecules that superintends this matter-energy. Life is generated and regenerated in struggle, persists in its perishing. Such life is also a gift; nature is grace. Biologists and theologians join in celebrating and conserving the genesis on Earth, awed in their encounter with this creativity that characterizes our home planet. (shrink)
The concerns of environmental ethics on other continents fail in Antarctica, which is without sustainable development, or ecosystems for a “land ethic,” or even familiar terrestrial fauna and flora. An Antarctic regime, developing politically, has been developing an ethics, underrunning the politics, remarkably exemplified in the Madrid Protocol, protecting “the intrinsic value of Antarctica.” Without inhabitants, claims of sovereignty are problematic. Antarctica is a continent for scientists and, more recently, tourists. Both focus on wild nature. Life is driven to extremes; (...) these extremes can intensify an ethic. Antarctica ascommon heritage transforms into wilderness, sanctuary, wonderland. An appropriate ethics for the seventh continent differs radically from that for the other six. (shrink)
The pivotal claim in environmental ethics is that humans in their cultures are out of sustainable relationships to the natural environments comprising the landscapes on which these cultures are superimposed. But bringing such culture into more intelligent relationships with the natural world requires not so much “naturalizing culture” as discriminating recognition of the radical differences between nature and culture, on the basis of which a dialectical ethic of complementarity may be possible. How far nature can and ought be managed and (...) be transformed into humanized nature, resulting in “the end of nature,” is a provocative question. Environmental ethics ought also to seek nature as an end in itself. (shrink)
Holmes Rolston challenges the sociobiological orthodoxy that would naturalize science, ethics, and religion. The book argues that genetic processes are not blind, selfish, and contingent, and that nature is therefore not value-free. The author examines the emergence of complex biodiversity through evolutionary history. Especially remarkable in this narrative is the genesis of human beings with their capacities for science, ethics, and religion. A major conceptual task of the book is to relate cultural genesis to natural genesis. There is also a (...) general account of how values are created and transmitted in both natural and human cultural history. The book is thoroughly up-to-date on current biological thought and is written by one of the most well-respected figures in the philosophy of biology and religion. (shrink)
The Bible is not a book of science, and therefore not of ecology. It does, however, sketch a vision of human ecology, and contemporary readers encounter claims about how to value nature. The Bible's vision is simultaneously biocentric, anthropocentric, and theocentric. The Hebrews discovered who they were as they discovered where they were, and their scriptures can be a catalyst in our ecological crisis.
The UNCED Earth Summit established two new principles of international justice: an equitable international order and protection of the environment. UNCED was a significant symbol, a morality play about environment and economics. Wealth is asymmetrically distributed; approximately one-fifth of the world (the G-7 nations) produces and consumes four-fifths of goods and services; four-fifths (the G-77 nations) get one-fifth. This distribution can be interpreted as both an earnings differential and as exploitation. Responses may require justice or charity, producing and sharing. Natural (...) and national resources come into tension with the common heritage of humankind, exemplified in disputes about. who owns biodiversity resources. Ethics has to learn planetary home economics. (shrink)
Yellowstone National Park poses critical issues in biology and philosophy. Among these are (1) how to value nature, especially at the ecosystem level, and whether to let nature take its course or employ hands-on scientific management; (2) the meaning of natural as this operates in park policy; (3) establishing biological claims on th scale of regional systems; (4) the interplay of natural and cultural history, involving both native and European Americans; (5) and sociopolitical forces as determinants in biological discovery. Alston (...) Chase's strident Playing God in Yellowstone is critized and used as a test of David Hull's naturalistic philosophy of biology. Biology and philosophy in Yellowstone ought to combine for an appropriate environmental ethic. (shrink)