This article identifies some areas of the new dialogue between science and theology that could definitely enhance the effectiveness of preaching and teaching, which includes counselling and pastoral care. First, it discusses pastoral hermeneutics, which includes the prophetic and constructive tasks of biblical preaching. Second, the article reviews eight different models of understanding the relationship between science and faith, half that draw upon the image of warfare and half which advocate peaceful co-operation. It pays special attention to the controversy surrounding Darwinian evolution. Third, the article turns to the frontier of genetic research and the ethical issues surrounding the phrase ‘playing God’, recommending that the pastor demythologize science while appropriating it to a theological understanding of the world in which people live.
This article addresses the question of what God's ultimate purposes might be for creating the world, focusing particularly on what His purpose might have been in creating the world via a seemingly partly chance-driven evolutionary process. It argues that God's creation of human beings and other living organisms through an evolutionary process allows for richer and deeper sorts of interconnections between humans and non-human creation than would otherwise be possible. These interconnections are of significant value, mainly because they allow for creation to become more deeply united with ourselves, in fact so united that there exists a deep communion between us and the rest of creation. This communion is not only an intrinsic good, but it enriches us, since part of this communion is creation becoming part of our very self, and thus we consciously share in the richness of creation.
Holmes Rolston III
Earth is proving to be a remarkable planet, and humans have deep roots in and entwined destinies with this wonderland Earth. Simultaneously, however, humans are remarkable on this remarkable planet, a wonder on wonderland Earth. But the foreboding challenge is that these spectacular humans, the sole moral agents on Earth, now jeopardize both themselves and their planet. Science and religion are equally needed, and strained, to bring salvation, to keep life on Earth sustainable. In the midst of its struggles, life has been ever ‘conserved’, as biologists find; life has been perpetually ‘redeemed’, as theologians find. This article holds that science and religion join to celebrate this saga of life, perennially generated and regenerated on this planet.
This chapter explores one of the most important new frontiers in medicine—namely, the new genetics—addressing the issues of identity and free will that genetics raises in new ways. It then uses the case of a woman with “the breast cancer gene” as an example of how genetic testing poses excruciating, new questions to the women affected and their families. Aside from the practical questions of what to do when faced with such a diagnosis, does this and the other Ashkenazi Jewish genetic diseases serve as a basis for the “discrimination, stigmatization, and marginalization” of Jews generally? Should Jews and others think of Jews as a “sick” people? For Jews, of course, such discussion of eugenics has a painful past in both the United States and in Nazi Germany. This is complicated yet further by the fact that in some cases, as with the breast cancer gene, the presence of the gene does not guarantee that the woman will have cancer but only adds to the probability of that happening. What, then, if anything, should be done with such a diagnosis? Furthermore, the availability of pre-natal testing for genetic diseases could easily create expectations in the future that families with a history of a particular genetic disease be tested for it, and if they bear a child with the disease, they may be seen as morally delinquent to both the child and society. The analysis brings Jewish concepts and values to bear on these questions.
This chapter discusses Jewish environmental ethics. It focuses on what two central biblical stories—the Garden of Eden and the Flood—tell us about Jewish ecological ethics as the Torah itself tells those stories, and as the later rabbis interpreted and expanded them, with special concern for the emerging ethics of Eco-Judaism. In so doing, the chapter illustrates how the Jewish tradition uses midrash, the interpretation of texts and their literary nuances, to discover meanings in sacred texts that make them ever relevant to us in changing times and circumstances. It briefly develops one of the Torah's laws on ecology, and an emerging interest on the part of some Jews to understand God differently to reflect our current ecological understanding of life as one integrated whole, in order to demonstrate how Jewish law and theology are relevant to ecology.
Roger S. Gottlieb
Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada), an organization formed by India's leading environmentalists, has been struggling for seventeen years, trying to halt the construction of dams on the Narmada river. The global scope of the Narmada campaign and other international struggles indicates that there is no inherent incompatibility between science, technology, the political defense of human rights, environmentalism, and religion. This article cites several examples of religious environmentalism in action, including the Religious Witness for the Earth's protest against the energy policy of the Bush administration in Washington, DC on May 3, 2001; the demonstration against the Maxaam Corporation at Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County, California on January 26, 1997; the coalition of independent African Christian churches and traditional African religions to repair the ravaged landscape in southern Zimbabwe's Masvingo province; the sixth annual and tenth anniversary meeting of Sisters of Earth, a loose network of nuns, in Fayetteville, Arkansas on July 15–18, 2004; and similar actions in other countries such as Taiwan and Sri Lanka.
William B. Hurlbut
The naturalistic methodologies of modern science have uncovered a vast wealth of understandings of the human condition that Blaise Pascal could not have imagined. These understandings have informed new naturalistic philosophical perspectives on the very nature of human nature, together with heretofore unimagined technological powers to manipulate it. Somehow the new conceptions of human nature fall short of cohering with the fullness of life as actually lived and experienced. However, people may discern in the evolutionary emergence of human personhood and its moral sociality intimations of a richer conception both of human nature and of the natural order in and to which it has adapted. When coupled with the perspective of Christian faith, such an expanded conception of the world culminates in an ethic that rises above mere moral duty and social utility to an alignment of life with the very source and power of self-giving love.