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Environmental Ethics

Volume 5, Issue 4, Winter 1983

Jay McDaniel
Pages 291-317

Physical Matter as Creative and Sentient

With the emergence of quantum theory, the Newtonian idea that matter is inert, devoid of creativity and sentience, becomes questionable. Yet, physicists have by no means agreed upon an alternative understanding that can replace the Newtonian paradigm. Henry Stapp and others argue that Whitehead’s thought provides a peculiarly appropriate framework for a new understanding of matter in light of quantum theory. The implications for a theology ofecology are manifold. No longer are matter and mind utterly discontinuous, nor is matter devoid of value until assigned value by humans or by God. Even the divine reality is, in a certain sense, “material.” This calls for a new sensitivity within Western religion, in which religion itself becomes openness to, and appreciation for, physical matter.

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