Habitat of Grace: Biology, Christianity and the Global Environmental Crisis

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In 1990 the Worldwatch Institute in Washington estimated that humankind had forty years to make the transition to an environmentally stable society. If we have not succeeded by then, it concluded, environmental dterioration and economic decline are likley to be feeding on each other, pulling us into a downward spiral of social disintegration. Worldwatch is no millenarian cult, but a sober and careful organisation whose annual summaries of world affairs have become the planet's unofficial environmental health ...

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Overview

In 1990 the Worldwatch Institute in Washington estimated that humankind had forty years to make the transition to an environmentally stable society. If we have not succeeded by then, it concluded, environmental dterioration and economic decline are likley to be feeding on each other, pulling us into a downward spiral of social disintegration. Worldwatch is no millenarian cult, but a sober and careful organisation whose annual summaries of world affairs have become the planet's unofficial environmental health reports. Its pronouncements are cautiously worded, influential and worth attnedning to. even if the timing is hard to predict. This book uses the issues raised in these reports to look at biology, the envrinomental crisis and theological response to it all by developing a new theology of creation. Based on her scientific background in the bilogical sciences, King brings together biology and theology. It covers sciecne, religion and environment, human nature and develops a theology of creation. The author teaches at the University of Waikato in New Zealand.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780958639989
  • Publisher: ATF Press
  • Publication date: 5/16/2002
  • Series: ATF Science and Theology Series
  • Pages: 245
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Ms. King is a Professor at the University of Waikato in New Zealand
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Table of Contents

List of Table and Figures viii
Acknowledgments ix
1. Science, Religion and Environment 1
1.1 Setting the scene 1
1.2 Rationale 6
1.3 Thinking about science and theology 9
1.4 Faith, religion, and doctrine 13
1.5 Ways of approaching the contemporary dialogue between science and theology 18
1.5.1 Conflict 18
1.5.2 Independence 19
1.5.3 Dialogue 20
1.5.4 Integration 21
1.6 Interpreting observations: models and paradigms in science and religion 22
2. The Origins of Environmental Concern Among Christians 27
2.1 Ecumenical background 29
2.2 Why earnest exhortations are never enough 37
3. Environmental Management and the Tragedy of Unmanaged Commons 45
3.1 The problems of common property management 45
3.1.1 First form: Muldoon's Law. In management of a common resource, strategies that are individually rational can be collectively disastrous 48
3.1.2 Second form: Berk's Law. The threat of damage to or depletion of an uncontrolled common resource increases its value and stimulates competition among free individuals to harvest it all the faster, regardless of the future 50
3.1.3 Third form: Bolger's Law. Individuals will tend to resist restriction of private access to common resources, even to protect the long term interests of the community 53
3.2 Theories of collective action 56
3.2.1 Privatisation 57
3.2.2 Regulation 62
3.2.3 Collective action 67
3.3 Conclusion 69
4. Human Nature 71
4.1 If there's a crisis, why are people ignoring it? 71
4.2 Understanding the roots of human nature 74
4.2.1 The primate heritage 76
4.2.2 The interactions between natural and cultural selection 78
4.3 The theory of gene-culture co-evolution 80
4.4 Game theory and the social contract 85
4.4.1 The importance of community life 89
4.5 Models of the origins of morality 92
4.5.1 Unconscious morality: the metaphor of the invisible hand 98
4.5.2 The metaphor of the selfish gene 101
4.5.3 Natural morality as self-deception 109
4.5.4 True human morality: a rebellion against nature or the fulfilment of nature? 112
4.5.5 Religion and morality 116
4.6 Conclusion: moral history and the environmental crisis 121
5. Theology of Creation 125
5.1 Introduction 125
5.2 The classic Christian doctrine of creation 126
5.3 Creation theology and the origin of modern science 129
5.4 What is "the integrity of creation"? 132
5.5 Current developments in creation theology 137
5.6 The origins of true Christian ethics 149
6. Environmentalism and the Institutional Churches 155
6.1 The role of religion in the environmental debate 156
6.1.1 Green grace and red grace 161
6.1.2 Game theory and environmental agreements 163
6.2 The debate about stewardship 167
6.3 Implications of church-led social activism for theology 173
6.4 Meeting the approaching catastrophe 175
7. General Conclusion 181
8. Summary 183
Appendix 1 How Natural Selection Works 193
The modern synthesis 193
The difference between information (genes) and materials (bodies) 194
Variation 195
Natural selection and competition 197
Adaptation: the long-term, accumulative process of change 199
The major transitions of evolution 202
Conflicts of interest and the levels of selection 204
Altruism: the good of the species? 205
Altruism between relatives: kin selection 207
Altruism between unrelated individuals: reciprocity 210
Altruism: multi-level and group selection 212
Appendix 2 Some Organisations Supplying Relevant Information 213
Glossary 214
References 221
Index 232
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