Holmes Rolston III (b. 1932)

Holmes Rolston III
“The interface between science and religion is, in a certain sense, a no-man’s land. No specialized science is competent here, nor does classical theology or academic philosophy really own this territory. This is an interdisciplinary zone where inquirers come from many fields. But this is a land where we increasingly must live.”
Holmes Rolston in Science and Religion

The life work of Holmes Rolston could be described as a gentle yet oh-so-persuasive effort to knit together a most unlikely community of secular scientists, nature lovers, public-policy wonks—and people of faith. Rolston says that he does his best teaching by “sneaking up on people and inviting them to get in a whole lot deeper than they ever thought possible.”

That makes this son and grandson of Presbyterian ministers an Interfaith Peacemaker. While his vocational strategy may sound modest, his work has circled the globe. Academically, Rolston has served as the University Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Colorado State University and, in 2003, he was awarded the Templeton Prize for his body of work, an honor presented to him at Buckingham Palace. He’d already given the internationally famous Gilford Lectures in the mid 1990s.

ReadTheSpirit magazine published a lengthy, two-part interview with Rolston in 2009. Here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2.

From one exchange in this interview, Rolston says: “There has been a widespread idea that nature is ‘value free’ and only humans bring value to the natural world when we use it or we enjoy experiences in it. In my work, I argue that living things have their own value. And living things value their own lives. When biologists tell me that there are no values in nature—I remind them of Darwin and what he taught us about nature. I ask them to think about the value of a thorn to a rose, the value of grasses to rabbits. The value of rabbits to foxes. Biology is soaked full of values in competition with each other.”