Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love (Book Review)


(system) #1
Because life on earth has theological meaning and value, people must not ravage it to satiate their temporal, self-serving appetites.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/jim-stump-faith-and-science-seeking-understanding/ask-the-beasts-darwin-and-the-god-of-love-book-review

#2

Together, “scientific literacy” and “religious contemplation” enable readers to “appreciate nature’s accomplishments” as “God’s handiwork,” as well as to take a proactive stance against its harm.

How refreshing to have this book – a melding of science and faith – come FROM the religious community! As Biologos often reminds us, our Creator has given us two books – the Bible and Nature – but the religious community as a whole is so clumsy at reading them together. Kudos to Sr Johnson!

For example, consider Johnson’s tendency to downplay the theological significance of the imago Dei within people. The consensus of Church tradition has been that because God made people in his image, they are the pinnacle of his creation.

I hope this is not an accurate assessment. As a product of Catholics schools, what I was taught is that Imago Dei, among other things, confers to humanity a responsibility due to its special status. From Francis of Assisi who is well known for his connection to Creation: “… the greater the gifts and graces that God gives us, the greater is our obligation…”. The book appears consistent with this.

I wish this article had included a few quotes from her book. In any case, thank you to Dr Lioy and Biologos for this blog.


(Mark Twombly) #3

Thank you for posting this very helpful book review.

I thought immediately of Psalm 8, where God in His grace has bestowed man - quite small in view of the vastness of the universe - with stewardship over His creation:

“What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,” (Psalms 8:4-6, NASB)

This stewardship does seem to have its foundation in the Imago Dei.

What I struggle to understand is a clear definition of the term ‘ecojustice’. The quotes here, as well as sites like http://www.ecojusticenow.org seem to firmly require - or at least assume - two anti-biblical truths: 1) Man is not superior to other living creatures, and (with apparent irony) 2) Man (exclusively) has the ability to destroy the earth.

Against the latter, we look to scriptures like Psalm 119:89-91, Hebrews 1:1-3, and 2 Peter 3:10-12 to recognize that only God is the Creator and Sustainer of the earth, and the only one who can destroy it is Him. As Christians, it seems the Scriptures tell us that we have a role of humbly ruling and caring for His creation, all the while acknowledging that ultimate power is His alone.

So when I see terms like ‘ecojustice’ and descriptions of non-human species as ‘marginalized’, I wonder how much we can agree as faithful Christians.

Perhaps I have misunderstood, and I welcome further input here.

Thank you.

Mark Twombly, Somerset, NJ


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #4

The issue is “stewardship.” Humans are stewards of God’s Creation. This means that YHWH/God gave us the privilege and responsibility to be the viceroy over God’s Creation. To carry out this task God made us like Godself.

If we have the responsibility to manage the universe in a responsible manner, we have the ability to mismanage. The choices we have to decide for God and goodness are real and we are responsible for what we do.

Rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin.