john davies
notes from a small curate

updated regularly
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Our World

    Blue Coat School 09/25/2002

    Genesis 9.1,8-17

    Charles Darwin was a religious man. Blessed with an extraordinary patience for observing nature's details, he had the long life and the brilliance to put it all together.

    He called his theory evolution; the way natural things develop in great varieties and kinds, large, small, strong, weaker, and the way the strong ones reproduce and keep developing in great variety.

    Itšs a theory which we recognise and which holds truth for us. Helps us to see how the world grows; helps us to value the diversity of life, the richness in the many varied species of things. Hopefully helps us to commit ourselves to ensure that all this wonderful growth will keep on happening.

    Religious folk believe there once was a time when God made a promise to humanity:

    As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.

    And with that promise God also charged them with the care of creation, with the task of ensuring all that wonderful growth keeps on happening:

    Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth...

    There once was a time when Thoreau wrote, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders."

    Nowadays wešre not so sure about seeds. Because technology means we can now manufacture seeds to do whatever we want, and corporations have invented ways to exploit this for profit, regardless of the ecological and social consequences.

    Joan Dye Gussow studies and writes about global food production. She says of herself, "I'm not all that religious." She mentions the alarming fact that pollen from genetically engineered corn is so rapidly contaminatiing all other corn that the United States may soon have no natural corn left. She describes this as "a fist in the eye of God."

    Whatever you believe in - whether God for you is the watchmaker who put together the intricate workings of this world in seven days or seven hundred billion days - you'd be wise to believe the part about the fist.

    Wešre thinking about our world this week and we need to think hard. I offer you the suggestion that religion, science and humanist ethics all have their part to play in this serious discussion, and should combine their rich insights togethr to make the right choices for the well-being of our planet.

    We want to remain certain that seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease; we want to enjoy the blessings Noah and his sons enjoyed, to Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth...

    This talk owes a great deal to A Fist in the Eye of God from Small Wonder, by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperCollins, 2002). For more in-depth reading on this subject please check out The Forum on Religion and Ecology. In particular their book on Christianity and Ecology. Ref also my blog of 26/09/02.