Human Being and Biodiversity: Orthodox View on the Problem of Interrelation

  1. Lemma
  2. Человек и биологическое разнообразие : православный взгляд на проблему взаимоотношений
  3. Russian
  4. Asliturk, Miriam
  5. Scientific theories and disciplines > Biology - Scientific theories and disciplines > Biology:evolution - Ecology and the environment
  6. 09-11-2017
  7. Click Here
    1. The author, V. K. Zhirov, believes that the era of official confrontation between religion and science in Russia is irrevocably over. He argues that such a confrontation was far-fetched: atheism, imposed on Soviet society as the only possible worldview, was not a consequence of the accumulated scientific knowledge and practice. Zhirov points out that during the Soviet era the ideological control over biologists was particularly important, which is why up to the present time biologists tend to believe in the creative role of the uncontrolled evolutionary process, rather than the existence of a single Author of everything that exists. In the long term, the author argues, this conservative view that most biologists hold can have very negative consequences, because due to the progress of biotechnology, in the 21st century this science is likely to determine the directions and the pace of further development of society.

      Zhirov states that recently, biodiversity conservation has become central in the field of environmental management and sustainable development. Biodiversity conservation is closely linked to the questions of the classification of living organisms. The system currently used by biologists is Carl Linnaeus' binominal nomenclature of organisms. Its criteria are, however, questionable and, Zhirov argues that they can cause significant economic, administrative and ethical difficulties - in particular as far as conservation, animal rights, and social policies are concerned. Linnaeus' nomenclature, according to the author, leads to biocentrism in bioethics and the so-called philosophy of "deep ecology" developed by A. Naess. This approach, built on the ideas of evolutionary connection and socio-biological similarities between humans and animals, in fact implies the equality of their rights to exist. The author points out the anti-Christian (and also anti-Muslim and anti-Judaic) character of biocentrism as it contradicts the principle of anthropocentrism, which is characteristic of these religions.

      Zhirov underlines the potential danger contained in the biocentric conception. Its ideas about equal rights of all living organisms, including man, easily lead to the principle of "the presumption of a human's guilt" (Gusev, 1991). Its combination with well-known ideas about the need to address the problem of population growth in the face of growing scarcity of natural resources contains a potential threat to human society in general, and especially to underdeveloped countries and the poor. The author mentions the first cases of the practical implementation of biocentrism at the state level in Western European countries, and primarily in the Netherlands, where legislation strictly regulates animal rights, but allows euthanasia of humans.

      The author believes that in the Russian context, biocentric ethics is unacceptable and cannot be used as an ideological basis for the society's relation to nature and biodiversity conservation. Zhirov is convinced that in Russia it is possible to formulate an alternative “theological-biological approach” based on Orthodox Christian ethics. He sees one of the ways of its practical implementation in the integration of activities of secular and monastic botanical gardens. As a result, it would be possible to create missionary and educational complexes that unite monasteries with botanical gardens.