Beauty and Duty: The Relationships Between Christian Ethics and Aesthetics
My scholarship concentrates on the ethical, aesthetic, and theological implications of what we have learned about the origin, evolution, interdependence, and future of life on earth. Since the relationship between extant ecological exigencies and God’s creation decisively shapes my analysis of these implications, astrobiology is directly relevant to my inquiries, for if life were found beyond our biosphere, its character would affect Christian judgments about whether ecological processes reflect God’s will for creation or punishment for sin. After all, while contemporary biology detects ecological processes before the human advent and seemingly independent of human influence, it remains restricted to our relatively immediate setting. Astrobiology is not similarly limited, and thus it may yield new insights into the links between life and ecological processes. Likewise, because I study how our growing understanding of the nature of life could affect Christian ethics and faith, I hope my research might further others’ exploration of the theological and societal implications of astrobiology.
Frederick Simmons is the J. Houston Witherspoon Fellow in Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Center of Theological Inquiry. His scholarship examines the moral implications of Christian theological commitments and the relationships between ethics, aesthetics, and the life sciences. Previously an Assistant Professor of Ethics at Yale Divinity School, he has also taught at Amherst College, La Pontifícia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, and La Universidad Politécnica Salesiana. His current projects include a monograph concerning the ethical and potential soteriological significance of ecology for contemporary Christians and another exploring the connections between natural aesthetics and the Christian moral life.