What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? (Psalm 8:4) The Hebrew poet asked this question more than 2,500 years ago, and it is as pressing a question today as it was then. What does it mean to be human? What ought humans to be doing? What is their role, or what are they for?
These are not only questions that we ask but that also are asked of us. We are in a sense called into question. In their mute and yet dramatic way, our fellow citizens in the commonwealth of the natural world—plants and animals—ask us the question. We are questioning creatures, and we are creatures who ourselves are always being questioned.
This essay set the stage for the 2003 Star Island conversation on Ecomorality by remembering the cosmic, geological, and ecological context in which we live. It reflects on the immense journey that matter and life have traveled from the beginning and reminds us that, throughout that journey, all that was and is emerged from a fertile mix of individual well-being and reciprocity. But to sense the meaning of the story and to know our place in it takes more than hearing its broad outline. We need to remember the individual actors who have gone before us; to read their stories in particular places, like the rocks and ecosystems of Star Island; and to listen carefully for the meaning to be found in those actors and those places. Those stories, actors, and places invite us to sense the sacredness of our time and place and to reconsecrate our selves and our energies to developing an ethic that honors our common ancestry.
cosmic story • Earth Charter • ecosystem • environment • ethics • evolution • globalization • justice • moral discernment • place • policy • population • resources • sustainability
George W. Fisher is Professor of Geology and Director of the Institute for Global Studies in Culture, Power, and History at Johns Hopkins University. His mailing address is Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218; e-mail: gfisher @ jhu.edu.
Philip Hefners notion of the created co-creator is treated here as a concept in its procedural sense. The concept as a theoretical construct offers a substantial account of human capabilities, their ingenuity to transcend the intrinsic and bring about a new order of growth and development. However, the limitation of this concept is its neatness. It suppresses that which cannot be suppressed. This otherwise straightforward concept fails to give a realistic description of the human in situations of being on the edge that points to an end where there are no alternatives or negotiations. What is promising in the created co-creator is that it is able to incorporate elements of the Western philosophical and theological anthropology. I propose that the created co-creator reflects and elaborates the Aristotelian human attributes of theoria, praxis, and poiesis.
analogy • created co-creator • irony • poiesis • praxis • theoria
Vítor Westhelle is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, 1100 East 55th Street, Chicago, IL 60615-5199.
Philip Hefner and the Modernist/Postmodernist Divide by Jerome A. Stone
Philip Hefner is part of neither the dominant Western paradigm nor the usual postmodernist reaction against it. He belongs within an Anglo-American viewpoint that also is within neither the dominant Western nor the postmodernist paradigm. Herein I sketch the differences between these paradigms. I elaborate Hefners theology of the created co-creator to show where Hefner contrasts with them and then contrast his ideas with those of two contemporary theologians who fit into the second paradigm, George Lindbeck and Mark C. Taylor.
created co-creator • Philip Hefner • George Lindbeck • religion-science dialogue • Mark C. Taylor • J. Wentzel van Huyssteen
Jerome A. Stone is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at William Rainey Harper College, Palatine, IL 60067, and on the adjunct faculty of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, Illinois; e-mail: Jersustone @ aol.com.
An Evolutionary Critique of the Created Co-Creator Concept by William Irons
The created co-creator theology states that human beings have the purpose of creating the most wholesome future possible for our species and the global ecosystem. I evaluate the human aspect of this theology by asking whether it is possible for human beings to do this. Do we have sufficient knowledge? Can we be motivated to do what is necessary to create a wholesome future for ourselves and our planet? We do not at present have sufficient knowledge, but there is reason to believe that with further scientific research we will be able to acquire it. The more difficult question is whether we can be motivated to cooperate on the scale necessary to fulfill this purpose. Evolutionary theories of human sociality, altruism, and cooperation are reviewed. I conclude that it is possible for human beings to fulfill the purpose defined for us by the created co-creator concept, but doing this will not be easy.
altruism • behavioral ecology • cooperation • created co-creator • evolutionary psychology • game theory analyses of human cooperation
William Irons is Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University, 1810 Hinman Avenue, Evanston, IL 60208-1310; e-mail: w-irons @ northwestern.edu.
The Kenosis of the Creator and of the Created Co-Creator by Manuel G. Doncel, S.J.
I comment on moral and theological aspects of human technology, which I consider as an evolutionary moment of our cultural and genetic variation. It is an important moment both scientifically and theologically. Starting from Philip Hefners theological program of the human being as created co-creator, I distinguish between the limitations and responsibilities of the human being as a created agent and the possibilities and ideals as a co-creator. I develop the idea of the kenosis (self-emptying) of the Creator, which as the root of Gods love principle should be reenacted by the created co-creators. I analyze elements of this kenosis presented by Jürgen Moltmann in relation to creation and eschatology.
created co-creator • Creators kenosis • cultures rights • eschatology • global culture • Philip Hefner • human kenosis • image of God • laws of nature • love principle • Jürgen Moltmann • new creation • Trinity • zimzum
Manuel G. Doncel, S.J. is professor emeritus of fundamental theology, Institut de Teologia Fonamental, and of theoretical particle physics, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. His mailing address is Centro Borja, E-08190 Sant Cugat (Barcelona), Spain; e-mail: manuel.g.doncel @ uab.es.
Created Co-Creator and the Practice of Medicine by Ann Pederson
There is a crisis of interpretation experienced by those making critical-care decisions and creating health-care policies and by the patients and families who make life-and-death decisions. For example, at both the beginning and end of life, new technologies are changing the way we define life and death. We can prolong life or hasten death in ways that we could not earlier have imagined. This crisis of interpretation demands new ways of thinking and doing. My task is to explicate how the created co-creator can be used as a springboard to help link theological concepts with feminist concerns about two issues: interpreting the culture and practice of medicine in a new way, and explicating the ambiguity of decision making when considering issues of life and death.
ambiguity • bioethics • created co-creator • feminism • health • in vitro fertilization • medicine • reproductive technologies
Ann Milliken Pederson is Professor of Religion, Augustana College, 2001 S. Summit, Sioux Falls, SD 57197.
The present ecological crisis imposes a rethinking of the relation between the human being and the rest of nature. Traditional theological articulations of this relation have proven problematic where they foster separatism and anthropocentrism, which give a false report on the relation and have a negative impact on thinking and acting in relation to nature. One place to begin rethinking is through an exploration of the affirmation that the human being is made in the image of God, imago dei. Some ways of construing the theological meaning of this designation are more helpful than others. Science has recognized the extent to which the human being is not only dependent upon but even emergent from nature. We are made of the same stuff that makes up the rest of the universe. We are nature. The place of the human being is much more modest, recent, and precarious than usually acknowledged in theological reflection. New ways of interpreting our role within nature must evolve out of this new understanding. Philip Hefner has proposed that we think of the human being as created co-creator. His is a distinctive and promising contribution. This essay responds with both affirmations and friendly questions.
anthropomorphism • created co-creator • genetic kinship • imago dei • progress • purpose • responsibility • self-transcendence • separatism • sin
Anna Case-Winters is Professor of Theology at McCormick Theological Seminary, 5460 S. University, Chicago IL 60615; e-mail: acase-winters @ McCormick.edu.
The Created Co-Creator: What It Is and Is Not by Gregory R. Peterson
In this article I briefly assesses Philip Hefners concept of the created co-creator by considering both what it does and does not claim. Looking at issues of reductionism, biological selfishness, biology and freedom, and environmental ethics, I point out strengths and weaknesses in Hefners conception of the created co-creator.
created co-creator • environmental ethics • freedom • Philip Hefner • sociobiology
Gregory R. Peterson is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at South Dakota State University, Scobey 336, Box 504, Brookings, SD 57007; e-mail: greg_peterson @ sdstate.edu.
Created Co-Creator in the Perspective of Church and Ethics by Roger A. Willer
Philip Hefners work on created co-creator is presented for consideration as a contemporary theological anthropology. Its reception within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America falls into three main lines, which are reviewed here because they are suggestive of its potential impact on Christian thinking. This review raises two major questions and leads to a critique. The first question is whether created co-creator should be replaced by another term for the sake of more clearly encapsulating the ideas represented in Hefners work. The second question concerns the moral payoff of created co-creator. Such questions lead to the critique that Hefners corpus gives insufficient attention to responsibility as integral to freedom and that it lacks a theory of obligation. I then sketch the amenability and benefit of linking created co-creator with responsibility ethics, exemplified by the work of Hans Jonas.
anthropology • created co-creator • creation • ethics • Philip Hefner • Hans Jonas • nature • obligation • responsibility ethics
Roger A. Willer is an Associate in the Department for Studies of the Division for Church in Society of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 8765 W. Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631; e-mail: roger.willer @ comcast.net.
The publication of Rachel Carsons Silent Spring, a compelling blend of stories, natural history, human values, and biological facts, in 1962 was instrumental in launching the modern environmental movement. We consider Carsons attitude toward animals in Silent Spring and in her other writings. Carson favored responsible stewardship and was more of an animal welfarist and environmentalist/conservation biologist who privileged ecosystems and species than an animal activist who privileged individuals, and she did not advocate an animal-rights agenda. There is clear tension in Carsons writings. Often she seems troubled by attempting to come across as a moderate and practical scientist, and some of her words, when considered out of context, could lead one to label her as an animal-rightist. While some of Carsons writing favors human-centered interests, she did not believe that only humans counted. Her warnings about silent springs must be taken seriously, perhaps even more seriously than when they were penned more than four decades ago. Carson was a passionate and extremely influential activist and if a world of persons like her were in charge of our global environmental policies, we and our fellow animals would be in much better shape than we currently are.
Keywords: And No Birds Sing • animal rights • animal welfare • Rachel Carson • conservation biology • DDD • DDT • environmentalism • Lost Woods • pesticides • Silent Spring
Marc Bekoff (http://literati.net/Bekoff; www.ethologicalethics.org) is Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0334; e-mail: marc.bekoff @ colorado.edu. Jan Nystrom is Associate Director of the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment, S. J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0730; e-mail: nystromj @ law.utah.edu.
Environmental Ethics and Cosmology: A Buddhist Perspective by Brian Edward Brown
The ground for a Buddhist environmental ethic is rooted in one of the earliest formulations of Buddhist teaching, the principle of dependent co-origination. This concept provides an ecological perspective where nothing exists in and of itself but only as a context of relations, a nexus of factors whose peculiar concatenation alone determines the origin, perpetuation, or cessation of that thing. The primacy of dependent co-origination is consistent with the subsequent development of Mahayana Buddhism and its concept of Tathata (wondrous Being), as understood through the complementary doctrines of the Tathagatagarbha (embryonic consciousness) and the Alayavijnana (Absolute Consciousness). Together, these specify the ontological and epistemological framework for understanding wondrous Being as the movement toward its own self-revelation: it comes to recognize itself as the essential nature of all things in and through the human mind, which is grounded on and informed by it. Through such a cosmology, coherent with the classical ideals of a bodhisattva, Buddhism reinvigorates the human in an ethic of mindful awareness of, reflection upon, and care for life in its entirety, as the species that can identify the integrity of the whole in the richness of its diverse particularities.
Alayavijnana (Absolute Consciousness) • bodhisattva (enlightened being) • Buddha nature • Cittaprakrti (innately pure mind) • cosmology • dependent co-origination • Dharmakaya (Cosmic Body of the Buddha) • dukha (suffering, unhappiness) • Hinayana • independent self-subsistence • Mahayana • self-emergent reality • sentient beings • sunyata (emptiness, nonsubstantiality) • Tathagatagarbha (embryonic consciousness) • Tathata (wondrous Being, Suchness) • Vijnanavada (consciousness-only school)
Brian Edward Brown is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College, 715 North Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10801; e-mail: bbrown @ iona.edu.
The Role of Cognition and Feeling in Religious Experience by Nina P. Azari and Dieter Birnbacher
Inquiry into religious experience is informed by conceptualizations of emotion. Although a long history of theoretical and empirical work has provided considerable insight into the philosophical, psychological, and (more recently) neurobiological structure of emotion, the role of cognition and feeling in religious emotional states remains poorly conceived, and, hence, so does the concept of religious experience. The lack of a clear understanding of the role of emotion in religious experience is a consequence of a lack of an adequate interdisciplinary account of emotions. Our primary aim here is to examine the consequences of a properly interdisciplinary understanding of emotions for the analysis of religious experience. To this end, we note points of convergence between psychological, philosophical, and neuroscientific accounts of emotion and between such accounts and reports on the neurobiology of religious experience, in particular two recent human brain imaging studies. We conclude that emotions are richer phenomena than either pure feeling or pure thought and that, rightly understood, emotion affords religious experience its distinctive content and quality. Accordingly, we argue that religious experience cannot be reduced to pure feeling or pure thought. Rather, on our analysis, religious experience emerges as thinking that feels like something.
emotion • human brain imaging • neuroscience • religious experience
Nina P. Azari is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, 200 W. Kawili Street, Hilo, HI 96720. Dieter Birnbacher is Professor of Philosophy and Chair at the Institute of Philosophy, Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Germany. His mailing address is Philosophisches Institut, Heinrich-Heine-Universitaet-Duesseldorf, Universitaetstrasse 1, D-40225 Duesseldorf, Germany.
Freedom and Neurobiology: A Scotistic Account by Guus Labooy
With the aid of some Scotistic conceptual distinctions, I develop a way of meeting the apparent deterministic sway of neurobiology. I make a careful distinction between formal and material freedom. Formal freedom, the ability to will or not to will a certain state of affairs regardless of whether it can be effectuated, remains, even if our material freedom to effectuate it is hampered by neurobiological mechanisms. These conceptual findings are linked with contemporary empirical research on obsessive-compulsive disorder and the possibility of volitional modulation of cerebral function.
freedom • neurobiological determinedness • philosophy of psychiatry • Scotism
Guus Labooy, formerly a medical doctor in the field of psychiatry, is working as a pastor. His mailing address is Gangesstraat 6, 3151 JJ Hoek van Holland, The Netherlands; e-mail: g.labooy @ filternet.nl.
Does God Play Dice? Insights from the Fractal Geometry of Nature by Paul H. Carr
Albert Einstein and Huston Smith reflect the old metaphor that chaos and randomness are bad. Scientists recently have discovered that many phenomena, from the fluctuations of the stock market to variations in our weather, have the same underlying order. Natural beauty from plants to snowflakes is described by fractal geometry; tree branching from trunks to twigs has the same fractal scaling as our lungs, from trachea to bronchi. Algorithms for drawing fractals have both randomness and global determinism. Fractal statistics is like picking a card from a stacked deck rather than from one that is shuffled to be truly random. The polarity of randomness (or freedom) and law characterizes the self-creating natural world. Polarity is in consonance with Taoism and contemporary theologians such as Paul Tillich, Alfred North Whitehead, Gordon Kaufman, Philip Hefner, and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Joseph Fords new metaphor is replacing the old: God plays dice with the universe, but theyre loaded dice.
chaos and complexity • contemporary theologians • evolution • fractal geometry • fractals • genetic algorithms • loaded dice • polarity • randomness and law • science and religion
Paul H. Carr (http://MirrorOfNature.org) led the Component Technology Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Hanscom AFB, MA 01731, where he is emeritus; e-mail: paul.carr2 @ comcast.net.
Faith and Doubt in Science and Religion by Varadaraja V. Raman
One of the contexts in which religion and science come into conflict is with regard to faith and doubt. Generally speaking, we associate faith with religion, which is opposed to doubt, and doubt with science, which is opposed to faith. Some critics of science have argued that science is also based on faith; others have shown that there is doubt in the religious context also. In this essay I clarify these positions by defining different types of faith and different types of doubt.
agnosticism • gnosis • intelligibility faith • quotidian doubt • quotidian faith • religious faith • sciencis • skeptics doubt • verificatory doubt
Varadaraja V. Raman is Emeritus Professor of Physics and Humanities at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623; e-mail: vvrsps @ rit.edu.
Science, Life and Christian Belief: A Survey of Contemporary Issues by Malcolm Jeeves and R. J. Berry, reviewed by Karl Giberson
Thomas Merton and Leo Szilard, two of the seminal religious and scientific figures of the twentieth century, briefly connected on the issue of the danger of atomic weaponry. This meeting resulted from paths that guided them to an orbiting or distancing from human society through a phase of intellectual (Szilard) or spiritual (Merton) abstraction followed by a return to the concerns of human society. These parallel trajectories and their eventual intersection reflect both the similarities and differences in their respective backgrounds. The briefness of their contacts and the unfulfilled possibilities from such contacts also suggest the importance of a continuing dialogue between major figures in religion and science.
angelism • atomic bomb • contemplative • Thomas Merton • nuclear science • peace movement • Walker Percy • religion and science • Leo Szilard
Phillip M. Thompson is Director of the Center for Ethics and Leadership and the Patricia A. Hayes Professor of Ethics at St. Edwards University, Austin, TX 78704; e-mail: phillipt @ admin.stedwards.edu.