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Larson&Ruse Chapter 9--Living on Earth

Posted By Randall D. Isaac, Monday, December 11, 2017

Ruse pens this concluding chapter of the book with a focus on life on earth. He opens with a quote from Pope Francis in his papal encyclical, Laudato Si. “Francis said of all humans that we are called upon ‘to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale…We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us.’”(p. 246)


Ruse continues with a six page concise summary of global warming. He is scientifically accurate and precise with a clear and understandable articulation of the historical and present-day knowledge of climate change. (p. 247-252)


Lynn White Jr.’s 1967 article in Science was a major milestone in viewing Christianity’s historical effect on the earth’s environment. But by now the flaws of his analysis have brought most of modern thinking to be closer to that of Pope Francis. The issues, pro and con, of how to understand and to cope with climate change are no longer science vs religion but pit religious and secular advocates vs religious and secular skeptics.


Ruse also discusses other religions, spending a significant amount of time on neo-Paganism, notably Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, and James Lovelock’s introduction of the Gaia hypothesis. “…Zell-Ravenheart’s spiritual roots are as deep as those of conventional Christians; indeed they are as deep as those of any religious belief system. Moreover, Gaia promotes as strong a call for environmental action as anything to emerge from more conventional religions…The Gaia hypothesis hovers in the borderland between science and religion, standing in stark contrast with modern developments in science.” (p. 268-269)


The book concludes with the following sentences: “The inhabitants of this earth face serious physical and social issues. Standing still and doing nothing is not an option. Hard thinking about the science and technology combined with deep moral seriousness and the religious conviction of believers are absolute requirements. Together with the realization that others, no less learned and no less serious, will come from other directions. No one should feel threatened by differences, nor should anyone quake and yield because there are differences. But if humans are in this together, sympathy and understanding are essential. Then perhaps we can move forward together.” (p. 276)

Tags:  Larson  On Faith and Science  Ruse 

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