The Human Animal and Christian Ecotheology
Reflections on Taking Biology Seriously
Keywords:Christian ecotheology, evolution, coevolution, free will, determinism, theology, environmentalism, intrinsic value, self-interest, altruism, the Fall
Christian ecotheology tends to emphasize human identity with the rest of nature while also arguing that human society requires transformation through appreciation of intrinsic value in non-human nature. Since this sets up a tension between notions of humans as natural beings and as free to choose among alternative motivations, it would bene?t Christian ecotheology to think more consistently about implications of humanity’s belonging to nature. Science has provided compelling reasons for thinking that egoism is an incorrigible dimension of human life, thereby suggesting that abusive exploitation of nature has deeper roots than cultural constructs. This realization calls for fundamental rethinking of several traditional Christian doctrines, including the Fall, original sin, and free will. In fact, some theologies already anticipate these revisions, though more remains to be done. Moreover, Christian ecotheology’s attention to concepts of connections between humans and nature and of nature’s value remains important, but some of its emphases need to change.
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