Jan 19 2014

Science, Religion, Creation Care & Martin Luther King

mag594Over the last couple of days I’ve seen postings on the internet with the following statement: “Stop fighting over who created the world and fight against the people who are destroying it.”  My first reaction to the saying was wholehearted agreement.  It made sense; what is important at this point is not arguments about the origin of things but doing what we can to preserve and protect the world.  Upon further reflection I’ve concluded that it’s not that simple.  The question of origins is very important and even affects how we do approach the environmental crises we currently face.  For me environmental ethics cannot be divorced from theology.

Hazard 862I’m not exactly sure who is “fighting over who created the world.”  I’ve been reading about an upcoming debate between a well-known creationist and television’s “Science Guy” but I’m not sure if that is what is being referred to.  Perhaps it’s not a specific reference at all but instead to the more general, and age old, “battle between science and religion.”  Personally I do not feel that there is a true battle between the two and agree with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s (whose birthday we honor tomorrow) summary statement: “Science investigates; religion interprets.  Science gives man knowledge which is power, religion gives man wisdom which is control.  Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.”   Science can address how the world came to be; that is within its realm. Religion is not in a position to deal with the “how” of creation but it is able to delve into the questions of “why” and “by whom.” These are for me the far more important questions.

CES_0560Martin Luther King noted that science deals mainly with facts and religion mainly with values.  It is my religion (Christianity) which leads me to believe that the world is good and that this goodness is derived from its divine origins.  Repeatedly throughout Genesis 1 God declares that the world is in and of itself “good.”  It is also my religion which causes me to believe that the world exists primarily for God’s glory, not ours.  These two core beliefs provide powerful reasons to work hard to protect the earth.  If the world was made by God then it is supremely valuable and deserves protection.  If God has declared it to be good then we must resist those forces which would diminish its goodness.   And if the world exists foremost for God’s glory, protecting and preserving it is perhaps our noblest calling.

Dr. King indicated that “science gives man knowledge which is power.”  This power has obviously been used for both good and evil.  At times science has given us what we need to make this a better world but at other times it has given us that which may very well destroy it.  That is why religion plays such an important role when it comes to the environment, it “gives man wisdom which is control.”  We desperately need this “wisdom” today; we desperately need this “control.”

Dual Eagles 4In the end I’d love to see more dialogue (not “fighting”) between science and religion.  Both offer something the other side needs.  I’d also like to see religion (all faiths) working with science to find ways to help us protect and not destroy God’s Creation.  After all, as Martin Luther King reminded us, “The two are not rivals.  They are complementary.”  Working together there is hope, while failure to do so could be devastating.  My suggestion is let’s keep talking about the origin of the world and together do everything we can to prevent its destruction.

–Chuck

(I took the magnolia image at Pikeville, KY, the mountain removal picture near Hazard, KY, the mountain scene at North Cascades NP in Washington, and the bald eagles in Alaska.)


Dec 5 2012

Hold On to Hope!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

It is the first week of Advent and the theme for the week is hope.  In coming weeks the theme will change to peace, joy and love.  Of the four, I think hope may be the most important.  No one wants to live a life without peace, joy or love but I’m convinced that no one can live life without hope.  It is that important.  In his classic work, Theology of Hope, Jurgen Moltmann wrote, “Totally without hope one cannot live. To live without hope is to cease to live. Hell is hopelessness. It is no accident that above the entrance to Dante’s hell is the inscription: ‘Leave behind all hope, you who enter here.'”   Martin Luther King, Jr. echoed this sentiment when he said, “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.”

The Bible has much to say about hope.  From beginning to end the Scriptures call for us to hold on to hope.  Even when we find ourselves in what appear to be hopeless situations we are challenged to maintain hope.  Why?  Because with God in the picture there is always cause for hope.  Always!

The story of Noah and the great Flood concludes with God making a covenant with Noah and the rest of Creation.  Genesis 9:13 says “I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”  Ever since God did this rainbows have been associated with hope.  I cannot see a rainbow without remembering the Genesis story and also its message of hope.  But even on the days that we don’t see rainbows we still have the assurance of God’s presence and love.  That’s what Advent and Christmas are all about.  And because we have this assurance, we are never without hope.

I will close today with some words that have come to mean a lot to me.  I’m not sure who wrote the following words but I keep them taped to my computer at work: “Whatever you do, hold on to hope!  The tiniest thread will twist into an unbreakable cord.  Let hope anchor you in the possibility that this is not the end of your story, that change will bring you to peaceful shores.”  Whether things are going well for you right now or they seem to be falling apart, I encourage you to hold on to hope, hold on to God.

–Chuck

(I took the top image at Cumberland Falls in Kentucky, the middle image at Yellowstone National park, and the bottom one near Devils Tower National Monument.