Original Research - Special Collection: Johan Buitendag Festschrift

We are stardust: Dignity and right of non-human life on and beyond our planet

Traugott Jähnichen, Andreas Losch
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 2 | a8957 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i2.8957 | © 2023 Traugott Jähnichen, Andreas Losch | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 May 2023 | Published: 27 September 2023

About the author(s)

Traugott Jähnichen, Department of Christian Social Ethics, Faculty of Protestant Theology, Ruhr-University, Bochum, Germany; and, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Andreas Losch, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; and, Institute of Hermeneutics and Philosophy of Religion, Faculty of Theology, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; and, Department of Systematic Theology, Faculty of Theology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

Abstract

Humankind is stardust, born of the evolution of life on Earth as part of the evolution of the universe. He is called to particular responsibility for all living beings and of creation itself. The article discusses whether and how, in the perspective of a theological ecocentrism, the dignity and rights of non-human beings are to be anchored in order to live according to this responsibility. The aim is to develop an ethic of self-limitation that is prepared to grant rights to non-human beings, which, however, can only be demanded by humans through advocacy. Some aspects are substantiated with a view to the Earth and beyond for the cosmos. The protection of the rain forests and oceans as well as the lower Earth orbit are mentioned as examples of an ethic of self-limitation. The spheres of the cosmos are also to be considered. It is about developing reverence for the cosmos as an expression of responsibility for creation.

Contribution: The article discusses in how far in a theological ecocentrism the dignity and rights of non-human beings are to be anchored. It argues for a reverence for the cosmos as an expression of responsibility for creation, as humankind is stardust, born of the evolution of life on Earth as part of the evolution of the universe.


Keywords

creation; dignity; rights; non-human beings; ecocentrism; anthropocentrism; outer space; reverence for the cosmos; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; NASA

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

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