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Catholic Environmentalism: From St. Augustine to Pope Francis

Vanderbilt University

A lecture by Prof. Marie George (St. John's University)

The exact time and location of the talk will be announced soon.

This event is free and open to the public.

About the Lecture:

In his often quoted article, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis,” Historian Lynn White asks, “What did Christianity tell people about their relations with the environment?”  He answers, “Christianity inherited from Judaism…a striking story of creation.  … God planned all [of creation] for man’s benefit and rule: no item in physical creation had any purpose save to serve man’s purposes.  … Christianity, in absolute contrast to paganism…insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.”

Tellingly, White does not quote a single Christian author supporting these views.

We will consider first what two of the Church’s greatest theologians, Augustine and Aquinas, have said on these points, and then we will look at what three recent Popes have said, with an eye to evaluating White’s theses.

Speaker Bio

Marie George has been a member of the Philosophy Department since 1988.  Professor George is an Aristotelian-Thomist whose interests lie primarily in the areas of philosophy of nature and philosophy of science.  She has received several awards from the John Templeton foundation for her work in science and religion, and in 2007 she received a grant from the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) for an interdisciplinary project entitled:  “The Evolution of Sympathy and Morality.”  Professor George has authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles and two books:  Christianity and Extraterrestrials? A Catholic Perspective(2005) and Stewardship of Creation (2009).  She is currently working on Aquinas’s “Fifth Way,” and also on a variety of questions concerning living things (self-motion, consciousness, evolution, etc.).  Professor George is a member of ten philosophical societies, including the American Catholic Philosophical Association, the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy, and the Society for Aristotelian Studies. 

Earlier Event: September 19
Does God Exist?