Stanley L. Olsen
Dr. Ann Pederson's Phil 110 class
Philip Hefner, The Human Factor
7 Oct 1999
Philip J. Hefner home page
LSTC Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
CCRS The Chicago Center for Religion and Science
Phil Hefner on ethics and moral values
Reflections on cloning a lamb
Cloning: As Quintessential Human Act (for the President's Bio-ethics Commission)
Philip Hefner, The Human Factor
Perspectives on the "Created Co-Creator" motif in relation to issues of ethics, morality, and moral values connected with science and technology
Here are some excerpts/passages that I find quite meaningful
p. 19-21: We are part of nature.
p. 27: We are created co-creators, with deep responsibility for the future of nature that has given rise to us.
p. 32: Rooted in nature, we as created co-creator have a measure of freedom as well as constraint and responsibility.
p. 41: Our meaning and purpose grow out of our rootedness in the ecosystem and our responsibility for it.
p. 45: Both genetics and culture are inextricably part of us.
p. 49: Both myth and ritual, and the world of technology, are part and parcel of evolutionary processes.
p. 68: Sin includes our alienation from nature.
p. 98: Environmental policy entails issues of value, concerning human life and the larger matrix of the global ecosystem and other life forms, in the context of which we exist and act.
p. 114: "Determinism is the polar concept of freedom."
p. 141: What do you think of Ralph Burhoe's perspective, "that the very aspects of the process of life that make human culture possible are intrinsically the bearers of the possibility of sin and evil?"
p. 152: Our decisions and actions critically influence the survival (or not) of the global ecosystem.
p. 165-166: The earth's carrying capacity for humans living in a hunter-gatherer culture is very much less than the current population.
p. 178: Values and morality grow out of our genetic and evolutionary roots.
p. 198, Fig 12-1: Conceptual diagram of biocultural evolution.
p. 202: In the context of myth and ritual, "all values finally receive their validity from being rooted in and in harmony with the way things really are."
p. 209: Hypothesis: "altruism is an intrinsic value, rooted in the fundamental character of reality."
p. 213: Too simplistic: science as what? questions, religion as why? questions.
p. 229: Joseph Sittler (WCC New Delhi 1961) and Colossians
p. 237: Jaroslav Pelikan (1988): "The fundamental concept in the biblical understanding of what it means to be human is the doctrine of creation in the image of God."
p. 248: "Through the action of its culture, therefore, the human being represents a proposal for the further evolution of the created world."
p. 277-279: In the Epilogue, Hefner summarizes his proposals and insights compactly and cogently.
In summary, I find particularly significant these emphases in Hefner:
As created co-creators, we are deeply rooted and grounded in nature.
Our moral values and ethics, culture, technology, myth and ritual, all grow out of evolutionary processes in the matrix of the global ecosystem, and are rooted in the way things really are.
Our decisions and actions critically influence the survival (or not) of the global ecosystem.
Phil Hefner's work might be usefully accented and extended by a greater emphasis on sustainability. Here are examples of such further discussion.
Norman Wirzba, "Learning from the Land," The Christian Century, 116 (25), 898-901, Sept 22-29, 1999.
Stanley L. Olsen Chair of Moral Values links.
Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All: an ELCA statement, 1999
Recognition and brief review of Philip Hefner, The Human Factor
Hefner in good company
and Religion Quotes (compiled by Paul Henry Carr):