Cover image for Environmental ethics, ecological theology, and natural selection
Environmental ethics, ecological theology, and natural selection
Sideris, Lisa H.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
viii, 311 pages ; 23 cm.
1. This view of life -- 2. The best of all possible worlds -- 3. The ecological model and the reanimation of nature -- 4. Darwinian equality for all -- 5. Philosophical and theological critiques of ecological theology -- 6. A comprehensive naturalized ethic -- Conclusion : finitude and responsibility.

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GE42 .S43 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In the last few decades, religious and secular thinkers have tackled the world's escalating environmental crisis by attempting to develop an ecological ethic that is both scientifically accurate and free of human-centered preconceptions. This groundbreaking study shows that many of these environmental ethicists continue to model their positions on romantic, pre-Darwinian concepts that disregard the predatory and cruelly competitive realities of the natural world. Examining the work of such influential thinkers as James Gustafson, Sallie McFague, Rosemary Radford Ruether, John Cobb, Peter Singer, and Holmes Rolston, Sideris proposes a more realistic ethic that combines evolutionary theory with theological insight, advocates a minimally interventionist stance toward nature, and values the processes over the products of the natural world.

Author Notes

Lisa H. Sideris is an assistant professor at the McGill School of Environment and the Faculty of Religious Studies, McGill University, Montreal.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Sideris (McGill Univ.) offers this bibliographic essay with critical commentary on the works of ecofeminists R. Ruether and S. McFague; ecotheologians J. Moltmann, J. Cobb, and C. Birch; and animal rights ethicists P. Singer and T. Regan. Chapter 1 claims that natural selection theory is crucial to environmental ethics, but chapter 6 states that ethics should not follow directly from evolutionary and ecological considerations. More confusion follows. Neither a biologist nor an ecologist, Sideris urges Christian theologians to consider more seriously the materialistic philosophy and evidence of evolution. In spite of contradictory remarks, Sideris comes to some valid conclusions in her review. For example, science and religion agree that the earth is not made by us or for us. However, her suggestion that we try on different metaphors for God and nature until we find something we like violates scientific realism as well as Christian theology. She presents an ecological theology that is "relatively absolute," where we relate to entities in nature as we relate to God. In other words, we are to worship nature, another conflict with Christian theology. Food for thought among Western ecotheologians, but empty calories for the spiritually discerning. ^BSumming Up: Optional. Faculty and researchers. T. Johnson formerly, Arizona State University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
1. This View of Life: The Significance of Evolutionary Theory for Environmental Ethicsp. 11
2. The Best of All Possible Worlds: Ecofeminist Views of Nature and Ethicsp. 45
3. The Ecological Model and the Reanimation of Naturep. 91
4. Darwinian Equality for All: Secular Views of Animal Rights and Liberationp. 131
5. Philosophical and Theological Critiques of Ecological Theology: Broadening Environmental Ethics from Ecocentric and Theocentric Perspectivesp. 167
6. A Comprehensive Naturalized Ethicp. 217
Conclusion: Finitude and Responsibilityp. 263
Notesp. 269
Works Citedp. 301
Indexp. 307