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New issue, now live

Just posted to the website, our January 24 issue. Among the highlights: The first part of an exclusive excerpt from Elizabeth A. Johnson’s forthcoming book, Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God Love (subscription required). An excerpt from the excerpt:

“Ask the beasts and they will teach you,” we read in Job (12:7). My new book takes its title from that verse, placing the natural world as envisioned by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in conversation with Christian belief in a loving God who creates, redeems, and promises a blessed future for our world. When we ask the animals and plants about their origin and relationship with God, a picture emerges of how they are cherished by divine love prior to, and apart from, the emergence of humanity. The evolution of the human species introduces sin into the world, seen today in our destruction of habitats and the resulting extinction of species. In this context, listening to the beasts fosters a deep ecological ethic as humans aim to replace their domination over nature with mutual regard and responsible care in the community of creation. The goal of this dialogue is to discover how love of the natural world is an intrinsic part of believers’ passion for the living God—to practical and critical effect. In this essay, the first of a two-part series, I hope to make clear how Darwin’s work changed our understanding of nature and humankind’s place in creation.

Also featured in the new issue: Jo McGowan with a personal reflection on moving her aging father into assisted living, Margaret O’Brien Steinfels on the peril of letting an ally determine our foreign policy, and Nick Ripatrazone on a new book of poems from Averill Curdy.

And we’ve also posted E. J. Dionne’s latest column, on the problems New Jersey governor Chris Christie could face with conservatives in the still unfolding “Bridgegate” scandal. 

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I was hoping that the excerpt of Johnson's book might illuminate the recent discussion on vegetarians and animals vs. humans, but it does not seem helpful.

On the other hand Jo McGowan's personal reflection was very moving.

Among the letters, there is a letter from dotC commenter David Pasinski! Thank you!

 

 

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Her new book takes its title from that verse, placing the natural world as envisioned by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in conversation with Christian belief in a loving God who creates, redeems, and promises a blessed future for our world.

If one really embraces Darwin’s theory of evolution then it must be done completely. This means that even Christianity must be reevaluated in the light of the evolution of religion, faith, and the evolution of morality. The literature is out there. There is no turning back or staying in place. Forward is the only direction if one takes the evolutionary evidence seriously.

More than 150 years after the publication of The Origin of Species Darwin's work still has a central place in the science v. religion debate because the theory of evolution more than any other scientific finding, has  shaken the faith of fundamentalist believers, turning many 19th and 20th century scientists into secularists, and the secular scientists now view religious belief as fundamentally irrational.

But this battle between science and religion isn't just about the truth of Darwin's theory.  It's a conflict between Darwinism and what the philosophers call 'scientism' or "reductive materialism", the philosophical position which asserts that only matter exists, so the only kind of causality which is real is physical causality.  This in turn implies that there can be no immaterial God who creates and orders the cosmos.

The scientism of today's scientists is itself an offshoot of Enlightenment rationalism, which has prevailed in the Western groves of academe since the 17th century.  It, however, is being seriously challenged.  The question is:  what, if anything, will end this dominance of materialism or even rout it?  Will it finally be ousted or rendered extinct by the challenges of some sort of spiritualism or Nietzschean will-to-power or existentialism or pragmatism or some as yet unidentified hybrid or mutant philosophy?  Or will some sort of non-philosophical world view, maybe an anti-rationalism, or some mere personless outlook supplant it, say, some sort of Buddhism? 

Or should we perhaps be on the lookout for a new St. Benedict to emerge, as Alasdair Macintyre hoped one would?  I wonder what St. Johnston will propose.

 

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“In this essay, the first of a two-part series, I hope to make clear how Darwin’s work changed our understanding of nature and humankind’s place in creation.” E. Johnson

Darwin is center stage in academia as we know. The implications for the future of faith and moral agency are enormous. The blossoms of the past and the fruit of the future will shape the precarious twenty-first century. 

Just wondering why it takes several days for the Kindle version of my subscription to download. I thought I would get it faster than the paper version, but just checked this a.m., and it's still not available.

 

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Elizabeth Johnson (theologian) from Wikipedia

 

This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality. Discussion of this nomination can be found on the talk page. (November 2011)

Elizabeth A. Johnson (born December 6, 1941[1]) is a Christian feminist theologian. She is a Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University, a Jesuit institution in New York City. She is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood.

Neutrality -- noninvolvement in disputes.

Being a Christian feminist theologian, distinguished professor of theology at Fordham, a sister of St Joseph, are these qualifications for being an authentic scholar? The Catholic Church’s main problem is not all the usual complaints we have been reading about for eons. The Church’s main problem is that it is afraid of stepping outside the box of indoctrination. If it did this step out, many of its problems would be solved in a short time.

It has to keep up with the mainstream of the advance of human knowledge. But its refusal and denial keeps the great exodus of authentic Catholics reinforced and the Catholic Church seemingly fading into extinction. Does a more or less two thousand year old institution that does not keep up intellectually think that it can sustain this unsustainable position much longer?