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EcospiritReligions and Philosophies for the Earth$
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Laurel Kearns and Catherine Keller

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823227457

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823227457.001.0001

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Toward an Ethics of Biodiversity: Science and Theology in Environmentalist Dialogue

Toward an Ethics of Biodiversity: Science and Theology in Environmentalist Dialogue

(p.178) Toward an Ethics of Biodiversity: Science and Theology in Environmentalist Dialogue

Kevin J. O'Brien

Fordham University Press

Inherent in the concept of biodiversity are two claims: that life on this planet is vastly diverse, and that this diversity is under threat from our species. This chapter asks how to respond to these facts, and offers two answers. The first is a broad, methodological argument that, however environmentalist moral theologians respond to the concept of biodiversity and the natural world it represents, we must do so in conversation with the scientists who have most carefully defined and monitored it. This point is made partly by articulating a methodology of naturalism, but also by modeling it, developing a position in dialogue with scientific ecologists who study biodiversity. The second answer is a constructive theological argument about how Christian thinkers should understand the world and humanity's role in it. It argues that theologians and theological ethicists must take biodiversity seriously as a place where humanity encounters the rest of creation, and that this means becoming fully aware simultaneously of the immense power our species has established over all other forms of life and of the limitations in our ability to use that power responsibly.

Keywords:   environmental ethics, ecology, biodiversity, naturalism, ecological theology

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