Environmental Ethics, Ecological Theology, and Natural Selection

By Lisa H. Sideris | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Ecological Model and the Reanimation of Nature

The ecology movement has reawakened interest in the values and concepts asso-
ciated historically with the premodern organic world. The ecological model and
its associated ethics make possible a fresh and critical interpretation of the rise
of modern science in the crucial period when our cosmos ceased to be viewed as
an organism and became instead a machine. The removal of animistic, organic
assumptions about the cosmos constituted the death of nature.

—Carolyn Merchant, The Death of Nature

If organisms are seen as mechanisms, they will be treated as such, and as such
we will treat each other. The very concept of health, of wholeness, disappears,
just as organisms have done from modern biology. A biology of parts becomes a
medicine of spare parts and organisms become aggregates of genetic and mo-
lecular bits with which we tinker as we please, seeing their worth entirely in
terms of their results, not in their beings. This is the path of ecological and so-
cial destruction.

—Brian Goodwin, How the Leopard Changed Its Spots

The conviction that mechanical views of nature have wreaked environmental havoc is woven throughout the writings of ecological theologians. If science itself is partly to blame for oppressive attitudes toward life, then perhaps a new and better science—enlightened by theological insights—can pave the way toward a more ethical treatment of all creatures. The ecological model, as the product of scientific and theological reflection, promises to provide this fresh outlook on life. We have seen arguments in favor of the ecological model already in the work of ecofeminists. Their support of the ecological model is shared by Christian environmentalists who approach

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