Multidisciplinary contemporary discourse involving science, philosophy and theology has explored themes of creation and human identity. Contemporary critiques of anthropocentricism stem from such discourse. The understanding of human beings as ‘spirited bodies’ rather than embodied spirits, arises from a non-reductionist physicalist standpoint. This is the point of departure for this thesis. The study attempts to explore the understanding of human beings as ‘spirited bodies’ from a non-reductionist physicalist view and as a metaphor for ‘fresh’ perspectives and insights that could potentially inform and/or shape a theologically grounded earth-keeping ethos on a different premise from the traditional dualistic hierarchical viewpoint.
Methodologically, this study attempts to reflect a unitary approach to knowledge. The study views the subject through three prisms. Firstly it takes a retrospective look to account for perspectives that have shaped hierarchical views of creation based on a dualistic principle that in turn have shaped the human power-dominion relationship with the rest of creation that is deemed to have led to the devastating eco-crisis the world faces today. Secondly, it considers a non-reductionist physicalist viewpoint that has challenged dualistic anthropological views of being in favour of the conception of human beings as ‘spirited bodies’ and which places human beings in a continuum with the rest creation. Thirdly, it picks up on Moltmann’s Trinitarian and pneumatological views of creation which orient the theological framework anchored on the community and communion within the triune relationship. Human solidarity with the rest of creation is then posited as the nexus that converges the strands of these different perspectives. The juxtaposition of the Genesis 1 creation story with Zambian cosmogony constitutes ‘case studies’ that illustrate how the fresh perspectives on creation and human identity open up an ‘interpretive space’ that could locate human beings in a continuum with the rest of creation and offer insight for an alternative earth-keeping ethos. Human solidarity with the rest of creation thus critiques traditional western dualistic and hierarchical conceptions of creation on one hand, and serves as an orienting concept for the ‘fresh’ earth-keeping ethos this study proposes on the other.
Dissertation (MA Theol)--University of Pretoria, 2013.