Alister McGrath on the Perspective of Nature

There is no doubt that, at least at some points in history, nature was seen as something that was ontologically given – something that possessed a definite, objective character, which human reason could grasp and use as the basis of moral living. Yet in more recent times, this view has become increasingly difficult to sustain, precisely because it has become more and more obvious that nature is an interpreted notion. It is not a piece of ‘raw data’, but something which we choose to view in certain ways. In the twentieth century, those ways of ‘viewing’ nature have included:

  • [N]ature as a mindless force, causing inconvenience to humanity, and demanding to be tamed;
  • [N]ature as an open-air gymnasium, offering leisure and sports facilities to affluent individuals who want to demonstrate their sporting prowess;
  • [N]ature as a wild kingdom, encouraging scuba-diving hiking and hunting;
  • [N]ature as a supply depot – an ageing and increasingly reluctant provider which produces (although with growing difficulty) minerals, water, food and other services for humanity.

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