The Theocentric Perspective of Laudato Si’: A Critical Discussion

In: Philosophia Reformata
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  • 1 Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, Belgium, steven.vandenheuvel@etf.edu

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In this article, I focus on Pope Francis’s “green” encyclical, Laudato Si’. After outlining some of its characteristics, I single out the pope’s engagement with anthropocentrism for critical discussion. The pope criticizes anthropocentrism (the view that human beings alone have intrinsic value), seeing it as a root cause of ecological destruction. Instead, he proposes what I would call a theocentric conception of nature. I criticize this view. First, I suggest that the pope is insufficiently critical in adopting a theocentric approach to the common creation story. Secondly, I argue from both a biblical-theological and a philosophical perspective against the pope’s resistance to the anthropocentrism of Genesis 1:26. Thirdly, I argue that because the pope opts for non-anthropocentrism, the encyclical falls short of offering a constructive way forward in relation to functioning in a technocratic society. Through these comments, I seek to strengthen the powerful and important message of this encyclical.

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