Saturday, November 22, 2008

Faiths in Creation (3)

The Place of Humanity in Creation
Martin Poulsom

The way in which we think about ecological issues depends to a large extent on whether we consider humanity to be entirely different from, or fundamentally the same as the rest of the natural world, argues Martin Poulsom. How can we navigate a path between these two positions to gain a better understanding of our place in creation, with respect to God and to other creatures?

In order to investigate the role that Christianity might play in current debates about environmental and ecological concerns, it is vital first to substantiate the claim that Christianity has something useful to say. After all, in the minds and stated opinions of some interlocutors, it is Christianity that is the problem. Its way of thinking has led humanity inevitably to the disaster on whose brink the globe is now teetering. At the outset of this paper, what is often called the Dominion thesis will be briefly examined and compared with the position taken by Deep Ecologists. It will be seen that, despite first appearances, these two dia­metrically opposed positions are actually somewhat similar to each other. The possibility of finding a path between these extremes will be raised, a possibility which will be shown to fit remarkably well with one mainstream way of articulat­ing theologically what it means to be a created human being. On the basis of this understanding of creation, humanity will be able to be placed in creation, both with respect to God and with respect to other creatures, in a way that can both respect the unique value of humankind and, at the same time, avoid denigrating the value of everything else. On the basis of this account, some possible contri­butions to current debates will be mooted as a way of opening up an exciting possibility – that Christianity might well have something of value to say.

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