Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love

Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love

by Elizabeth A. Johnson
     
 

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For millennia plant and animal species have received little sustained attention as subjects of Christian theology and ethics in their own right. Focused on the human dilemma of sin and redemptive grace, theology has considered the doctrine of creation to be mainly an overture to the main drama of human being's relationship to God. What value does the natural world… See more details below

Overview

For millennia plant and animal species have received little sustained attention as subjects of Christian theology and ethics in their own right. Focused on the human dilemma of sin and redemptive grace, theology has considered the doctrine of creation to be mainly an overture to the main drama of human being's relationship to God. What value does the natural world have within the framework of religious belief? The crisis of biodiversity in our day, when species are going extinct at more than 1,000 times the natural rate, renders this question acutely important.Standard perspectives need to be realigned; theology needs to look out of the window, so to speak as well as in the mirror. Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love leads to the conclusion that love of the natural world is an intrinsic element of faith in God and that far from being an add-on, ecological care is at the centre of moral life.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/03/2014
When Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, he essentially declared an end to our lack of curiosity about human beginnings and the natural evolution of the material world. He was considered an unbeliever and a hell-bound heretic. But as time has passed, students of science and religion have come to acknowledge that Darwin was neither, spurring an energetic defense of Darwin's fundamental premise and its trajectories into our world. In this brilliantly written volume, Johnson (Quest for the Living God), a professor of theology at Fordham University, seamlessly integrates Darwin's understanding with a deeply held belief in a God who enters the world of matter, bringing to life a "community of creation"—an ever-creating God expressing god-self in life's infinite varieties. Key to understanding Johnson's thesis is the ability to look beyond the literalness of scripture to see the harmonious whole of the created order. "We evolved relationally; we exist symbiotically; our existence depends on interaction with the rest of the natural world," Johnson writes. Engrossing and wonderfully realized, this is a book to be read and loved. (Mar.)
National Catholic Reporter

This book is a call to broaden our focus, beyond the hierarchy we have perceived in Genesis, beyond the individualistic angst of human sin and redemption. It shows us that biblical revelation is bigger than this - God is bigger than this.
ForeWord Reviews

Johnson's work is vivifying, encouraging not only Christian thoughtfulness but also reverence toward the ecosystem on its behalf. An overdue reconciliation of religious belief to scientific cognizance, Ask the Beasts should become the benchmark for conversations between the disciplines.
Association for Mormon Letters

With 'Ask the Beasts' Elizabeth Johnson gives us a gift of the insights, scope of vision and impact of Darwin's theory on the way we humans view the history of life on our planet and our responsibility to care for oWith 'Ask the Beasts' Elizabeth Johnson gives us a gift of the insights, scope of vision and impact of Darwin's theory on the way we humans view the history of life on our planet and our responsibility to care for our home.
V. 89 N. 2. Worship

In constructing her "dialogue between Charles Darwin's account of the origin of species and the Christian story of the ineffable God of mercy and love recounted in the Nicene Creed" (xv), Johnson writes so skillfully in her judicious use of a broad swathe of traditional and contemporary literature, and also so beautifully, that this book may well stand out as one of the most important to come from the early twenty-first century.
Anglican Theological Review

Like Darwin marveling at the web of life observed in the tangle of vegetation, insects, birds, and animals along a riverbank and at discovering the "grandeur" of a view of life that is dynamic rather than static, Johnson's stance is most often one of profound wonder at the complexity, beauty and mystery of creation and of its Creator.
Catholic Library World

Elizabeth Johnson's most recent publication demonstrates not only her facility and keen insight on matters of theology, but also her knowledge of evolutionary theory as introduced by Darwin and updated by other scholars. Johnson is a clear and persuasive writer who substantiates her work with footnotes and an eleven-page select bibliography. … Ask the Beasts forwards the conversation between science and theology and is well-suited for any library, but particularly for a theological library.
National Catholic Reporter Jamie Manson

Throughout her acclaimed career as a theologian, Sr. Elizabeth Johnson has devoted much of her scholarship to contemplating God's relationship with human beings. [In] Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love, Johnson turns her gaze upon God's relationship with the nonhumans of the world.
Booklist Bryce Christensen

Besides borrowing from other environmentally conscious religious thinkers, Johnson draws key insights from Darwin, whose The Origin of Species opens a vision of a planetwide community of life. As readers contemplate the human heedlessness that has pushed many species to (near) extinction, they will understand the urgency of Johnson's ecological appeal. The Catholic Bishops' censure of Johnson's Quest for the Living God may make the orthodox wary. But a writer who stirs controversy never lacks readers.
National Catholic Reporter Melissa Jones

This book is a call to broaden our focus, beyond the hierarchy we have perceived in Genesis, beyond the individualistic angst of human sin and redemption. It shows us that biblical revelation is bigger than this - God is bigger than this.
Association for Mormon Letters Blair Tabor

With 'Ask the Beasts' Elizabeth Johnson gives us a gift of the insights, scope of vision and impact of Darwin's theory on the way we humans view the history of life on our planet and our responsibility to care for With 'Ask the Beasts' Elizabeth Johnson gives us a gift of the insights, scope of vision and impact of Darwin's theory on the way we humans view the history of life on our planet and our responsibility to care for our home.
From the Publisher

Like Darwin marveling at the web of life observed in the tangle of vegetation, insects, birds, and animals along a riverbank and at discovering the 'grandeur' of a view of life that is dynamic rather than static, Johnson's stance is most often one of profound wonder at the complexity, beauty and mystery of creation and of its Creator.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781472903747
Publisher:
BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING
Publication date:
01/16/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
182,833
File size:
3 MB

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