Should We Reverence Life? Reflections at the Intersection of Ecology, Religion, and Ethics

William Schweiker

in Without Nature?

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230693
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237227 | DOI:
Should We Reverence Life? Reflections at the Intersection of               Ecology, Religion, and Ethics

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This chapter explores the idea of reverence for life. The goal is to isolate problems in that idea and also to set forth in somewhat programmatic terms an ethics aimed at the integrity of life. First, it clarifies what the idea of “reverence for life” means and how it might relate to “respect for life” or “dignity of life” or “sanctity of life.” Second, it charts the range of questions that swirl around debates over reverence for life. Attaining some purchase on such ideas and questions provides insight into the deeper currents working in the contemporary social world. These two initial steps form a moral interpretation of the social situation found in technologically advanced nations. The third step is to turn to the history of modern thought and explore the ethics of Albert Schweitzer, a theologian, biblical scholar, medical doctor, musician, Nobel Prize winner, and a man interested in various religions. The journey of reflection leads, finally, to some critical and constructive reflections about the integrity of life, rather than reverence for life, as the core of a viable ethics of responsibility for our age.

Keywords: reverence for life; ethics; Albert Schweitzer; integrity of life

Chapter.  8776 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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