Can nature truly be our friend?

Zygon 29 (4):507-528 (1994)
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Abstract

. The question of whether nature can embody love or be considered in this sense as “friend” is a thorny problem for Christian theology. The doctrines of finitude and sin argue against nature as a realm of love, whereas the doctrine of creation out of nothing, which links God and the creation so forcefully, would seem to argue for such a view of nature. This paper explores the thesis that Western culture has not offered a concept of nature rich enough to allow for an understanding of it as a domain of gracious-ness. From pre-Socratic times through the Enlightenment and the rise of modern science, nature was conceived of as a realm of defect or lacking in creative possibilities. Christian theology has consistently spoken of nature in terms that defy the limitations of the authorized views proposed by the ambient Western cultures. The present times, under the influence of the sciences, have furnished for the first time an authorized concept of nature that is large enough and dynamic enough to entertain the dimension of grace. Consequently, ours is a time of great promise for developing a more adequate theology of nature.

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