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Roger L. Shinn received his M.Div., 1941, Ph.D., 1951, from Union Theological Seminary and was the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics there from 1959 to 1985. He was dean of graduate studies and then acting president in 1974-1975. He was active in the freedom rides of the civil rights movement during the 1960s and since retirement from Union has taught at seminaries around the country. Shinn is the past president of the American Theological Society and the Society of Christian Ethics and the author or editor of 16 books. His most recent book is The New Genetics: Challenges for Science, Faith, and Politics (1996).

 

Abstract of paper given at Christianity and Ecology conference:
The Mystery of the Self and the Enigma of Nature

The assigned subject area, "human intervention in natural processes, " has led me into exploration of "the mystery of the self and the enigma of nature." In relation to human purposes, nature sustains and destroys human life and purpose. It is our womb and our tomb. Whether we try to understand macro-nature (the world of astrophysics) or micronature (the world of electrons, protons, mesons, and quarks) or the world of ordinary life, the enigma persists. I reject two prominent tendencies of our time: 1) the reduction of nature to a warehouse of materials for human exploitation and 2) the idealizing of nature as "a sacramental universe" or as Gaia. And I seek some "theological pointers" as guides to responsible living. I use genetics as an example of "human intervention in natural processes."

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