The Human Animal and Christian Ecotheology

Reflections on Taking Biology Seriously


  • David James Bryant Department of Religious Studies, Eckerd College, Saint Petersburg, Florida



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.

Author Biography

David James Bryant, Department of Religious Studies, Eckerd College, Saint Petersburg, Florida

David J. Bryant is a Professor of Religious Studies at Eckherd College, Florida.


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How to Cite

Bryant, D. J. (2014). The Human Animal and Christian Ecotheology: Reflections on Taking Biology Seriously. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 8(1), 85–110.