Francis: The Patron of More Than Just Birds

This evening, the friars in my house celebrated the 35th anniversary of St. Francis being named the Patron of Ecology. As head of the JPIC committee in the house, I had the privilege of preaching at mass based on Gen 2:4-25, Ps. 104:27-30, and Jn 1:1-5. For more information or other reflections, you can go the the Franciscan’s website,

Thirty five years (and six days) ago, John Paul II proclaimed Francis of Assisi the patron saint of Ecology with these words:

Among the holy and admirable men who have revered nature as a wonderful gift of God to the human race, St Francis of Assisi deserves special consideration.  For he, in a special way, deeply sensed the universal works of the Creator and, filled with a certain divine spirit, sang that very beautiful “Canticle of the Creatures”.

It is a great honor that we as Franciscans are able to celebrate today such an example, to be inspired by his life and to imitate his joy and reverence towards God’s creation.

It is also a time for clarity, for us and for the world, as to what Francis actually said and did. As we know, Francis is often found with a bird on his shoulder, sometimes even talking to many animals. But is this the Francis that we see as our inspiration, the one the world needs to see? I believe that there is confusion, even in John Paul’s proclamation, as to what Francis can offer the world. There’s something more to Francis than a lover of animals; something more than someone who saw nature as simply God’s gift to humanity.

Francis was a man who saw the world differently than those around him. Everything in creation pointed him to God.

Francis was a man who saw the world differently than those around him. Everything in creation pointed him to God.

As with everything for Francis, his worldview begins from a position of littleness and humility before his Creator. As humans, we are God’s creatures, beings that owe everything that we are to the “most high, glorious God.” Francis would always want us to remember where we came from: God formed us from the dust of the earth. When the Church talks about social teaching, it puts human dignity as the foremost principle, from which all others flow; creation in this sense is as John Paul put it, a gift for humanity. For Francis, it is the other way around: we were created out of the earth, as a part of creation, called to be stewards and caretakers of something much bigger than us. Creation is not subject to us, free to be used and exploited however it best fits us. No, the whole created order is our brothers and sisters, made by the same loving Father, oriented to pleasing him each in its own way. It is out of this great humility that Francis asked with his life, “What does my brother and sister need?” and remained subject to all so as to allow what God had created to act in the way God had intended.

How did God create the world? I think it’s easy to fall into a Deistic, Watchmaker understanding of the world: there was a time at which God made everything, it happened in the past, and now God is off somewhere looking down on everything he set in motion. This, I tell you, is not very Catholic, and it’s certainly not Franciscan. Instead, let us look at the Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life.” God the Father created through the Son, in the Holy Spirit; the Father is the one who speaks, the Word is the one sent to the world, and the Holy Spirit is one hearing and responding. This is not something that happened, something that only took place at one point in time; it is the very nature of who God is: eternal self-disusing, creative love. God created, God creates now, and God will continue to renew the face of the earth.

And lastly, no discussion of Francis would be complete without mentioning the pinnacle of God’s creation and love, the Incarnation. As Franciscans and Christians, how can we not be amazed at what God has done: the Creator allowed himself to become the created. In the person of Jesus, we are able to experience God in our concrete, physical reality. It is a reminder to us that all that God has created, the entire material cosmos, is good and worthy of revealing himself. When Francis looked into the world, he saw the means for us to experience the living God. The Sun. The moon. Wind. Fire. Water. Earth. All of creation. These were not inanimate objects to use at his disposal, they were imprints of the one who created them, and vessels for us to experience him. How amazing it is that we can harvest the earth, bake it into bread, and encounter our God in a physical way? This is the perspective that Francis has to offer the world. This is the awe and reverence that inspires us, the humility and littleness that guides us, to see God working in and through all of existence.

For this reason, we are called to care for God’s creation, not for its usefulness to humanity or for the well-being of future generations, but for its own sake. What God has created is good, it is holy, and it requires our attention. Like Adam in our first reading called on to name the animals and take care of the garden, God has privileged us with being co-creators with him.

We can glory in the wonder of God’s creation or to manipulate it for our own gain;

We can choose to bring life or to destroy it.

We can work with God, who continues to renew the face of the earth each and every day, or we can work against him, polluting and over consuming what is not rightfully ours.

On this anniversary, I pray that Francis may be an inspiration to all of us, that we may be more humble servants in this world, caring for all that may lead us to the one who gives us life. May God grant you his peace.





Cardinal Differences

While these two men are unquestionably Catholic, they have very different visions for the life of the Church

While these two men have very different visions for the life of the Church, they are unquestionably Catholic

It was quite a remarkable week at the Catholic University of America. In what we were told was “completely coincidental,” two different (and I mean different) Cardinals found their way onto campus to give lectures about the Church. On Monday, Gerhard Cardinal Müller, the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), gave a lecture to the public, and on Tuesday prayed evening prayer and gave a lecture before a private audience of seminarians. On Thursday, Walter Cardinal Kasper received a medal for “Excellence in Scholarship and Leadership in Religious Studies” from the Catholic University of America and gave a lecture entitled, “Theological Background of the Ecclesiological Ecumenical Vision of Pope Francis.”

For those not up on the latest gossip–I mean news–within the Vatican regarding the Synod on the Family, this is quite a coupling of Cardinals to have speak in one week. Both men have been the center of attention of media personnel, and many have caricatured these men against one another as theological and political enemies, one being the progressive in favor of doctrinal change, the other the conservative defending the faith against heresy. While there is some truth to this, as they appear to have taken different stances on a couple of key issues, it seems to me to be a gross oversimplification of the issues and an attempt to create schism where no schism exists. These men hold different points of view regarding the life of the Church, sure, but they are also very Catholic in doing so.

Of the two, Müller’s was certainly the drier of the lectures. Being the prefect of the CDF, one did not expect him to present anything revolutionary or controversial. Added to that, language was definitely a barrier, meaning that his entire lecture and even much of the question-and-answer session, was read from prewritten statements. As far as presentation goes, I have to admit, I struggled to stay awake.

At the same time, though, it was a really worthwhile experience. Attended by and geared toward seminarians alone, the whole evening was a pretty inspiring event. While the Franciscans (OFM) and the Dominicans appeared to be the only religious in attendance (ahem… Carmelites, Capuchins, TORs, Conventuals, Paulists…), there were hundreds of seminarians in attendance, all students at CUA. That was pretty amazing to see. Vocations to religious life and the priesthood are by no means where they need to be, but it’s clear that there has been a small resurgence in numbers over the past five to ten years. Müller took notice of this, but seemed to indicate that quality is more important than quantity. Encouraging us to embrace the process of growth and conversion, he told us that seminary and formation were not simply, “I believe ze English term is ‘hoops to jump troo.'” We must always ground ourselves in faith, and recognize our journey in the life of the Eucharistic celebration. With the mass as our foundation, seminary and formation is not the step before we get to where we’re going, but rather the experience of Christ right now on our journey of faith.

As an added “bonus” to the night, Cardinal Müller shook each of our hands, took a group picture, and invited us to tour the Saint John Paul II exhibit recently opened. (More about this experience at the end.)

But as worthwhile as our evening with Cardinal Müller was, it pales in comparison to Cardinal Kasper’s lecture. Let’s just say that the man was candid, casual, and full of joy with the current pope. Francis, he said, is Jesuit to the core (not a Franciscan in disguise.) Unlike his predecessor who exercised faith from the standpoint of his intellect and theory, Francis’ faith is rooted in experience and defined by practical measures. Distinctly South American, he exemplifies a method of theology found in the liberation theologians: see, judge, act. Unlike the liberation theologians, however, the Gospel is not primarily a message of liberation, but rather joy, and joy cannot be contained. It is God’s mercy that defines the Gospel, not law. As such, social justice is not some far off ideal we seek, but rather “the minimum amount of mercy” required by all. The Gospel requires more than just the minimum, more than just “what is due.” It requires mercy.

Through this lens, he described, Francis’ understanding of the Church is straight out of the Second Vatican Council, even if he never mentions it. “He doesn’t mention Vatican II a lot. The reason for this is not that he doesn’t agree with it, it’s that that he has embodied it so completely in himself.” For Francis, the Church should not be like a business in which the CEO dictates the mission and the heads of each department work towards pleasing the boss, guided by strict laws and protocols; the Church is not a top-down institution with the pope as the sole source and authority of truth, dictating doctrine for everyone to follow. The Church is the people of God, the messianic people, the sensus fidei, and he wants full participation from everyone, particularly the laity. Just as the outwardly written “doctrines” are secondary to the inward gifts of the Holy Spirit through the Gospel, the Magisterium is there, not to impose burdens on the people, but to listen to and serve the people of God. When the Church becomes self-centered, failing to move to the peripheries of society and Church out of fear, the joy of the Gospel does not get communicated. (I’ve intended to write a post about Francis, and maybe I’ll get there, but can I just go on record to say that I love this guy?)

It’s here, I guess, that the reflective piece of this post begins, and the true purpose of writing comes out. Having listened to two Cardinals with very different tones this week, and having spent a lot of time in conversation about the differences between the papacies of John Paul II and Francis, (not to mention the fact that there were two people protesting outside of one of the lectures!) I cannot help but recognize that each of these men is truly Catholic in his theology and understanding of Church, even if I prefer one over another. I think Cardinal Kasper’s very candid opening line of his lecture expresses what I want to say: “For some of you, the papacy of Francis is a spring of new life, a great warmth after a winter that has lasted for many years; for others of you, it is an unwelcome cold spell that has caused you to grab your coat and pray for a short winter.” This is not a new phenomenon, nor does it indicate that we are headed towards schism. To have a different perspective on Church, and thus, to be disappointed with the Church’s leadership at a given time, does not make someone a good or bad Catholic. As I walked around the John Paul II exhibit, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the many wonderful things he did and the great man of prayer that he always was; at the same time, I couldn’t help but remember that his understanding of Church and style of leadership were far from my own, and that he did a lot to undo the reforms put in place by the Second Vatican Council that really define my own theology. And that’s okay.

You see, we live in a pluralistic world, and like it or not, worship in a pluralistic Church. Having now taken classes in Church history, history of theology, history of the sacraments, foundations of moral theology, and social ethics, it’s clear to me that there has never been time in which everyone in the Church believed and acted the same way, even among the greatest of theologians. (Look at Saint Bonaventure and Saint Thomas Aquinas: contemporaries and doctors of the Church, they represent a Church moving in opposing directions. Look at East and West: truly faithful people that agree on every important dogmatic statement (minus one word that we added later…), both drawing their lineage all the way back to Jesus, and yet are very different in thought and practice.) While the experience of God’s revelation in Christ is unchanging, the way we understand that revelation and live it out develops over time. Just because we may have different opinions about theology and Church organization does not mean that one is right and one is wrong, it simply means, as Kasper said, “The totality of God cannot fit into one human perspective.” Instead of calling for Schism or name-calling among the people of faith, instead of a theology of arrogance that claims to know all that there is about the infinite, let us treat one another with humility of heart and joy for the Gospel, and do as St. Paul tells us: “Test everything; retain what is good.”

Weight Room Theology

Good workout mantra. Bad theology.

Good workout mantra. Bad theology.

“No pain, no gain.”

“If you can’t outplay them, outwork them.”

“It’s all about who wants it more.”

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination.”

“You gotta burn it to earn it”

“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

“Go big or go home.”

“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.”

As someone who has taken sports and athletic training very seriously my whole life, quotes like these really get me going. Even watching a commercial like this makes me want to jump off the couch and hit the weights. I can work harder. I can get better. I can be great. There is within me a constant demand for progress and the belief that it is within the realm of my free will to achieve it (or not) based on the amount of effort I put in. Hard work pays off, as they say, and so I’m all about hard work.

And while most of us recognize that our free will is only one contributing factor to our success (along with our genetic makeup, social upbringing, and chance), I imagine that most of us buy into these weight room montras to some extent. We want to be in control. We want to think that we can determine our own future, that it is not some unchangeable characteristic our biology that determines our life, but rather our dedication and innovation. Isn’t that the American way? At the core of who we are, we are a people that upholds the freedom to make of ourselves what we can, that hard work should be rewarded with success.

I think that’s really the crux of it: we are a people that believes that we are able to and should earn everything we have. We live with the notion that the world is a meritocracy, that those who work hard will be successful and those who are lazy or incompetent will be unsuccessful. In this world, everything is in our control. We can choose to work hard or not, but ultimately success is within our hands. When people hear that the actual greatest indicator of one’s success is the social status of the family in which one is born, most want to reject this: the privileged want to think that they earned what they were given, and the poor want to believe that their situation can be changed if only they work hard enough. Everyone wants to be in control; everyone wants to believe that we can earn whatever we want.

It’s no wonder, then, that weight room montras and motivational quotes pervade all aspects of our life, even our relationship with God. Without even realizing it, many of us have adopted a weight room theology in which salvation is yet another task to be overcome by our will and earned by our hard work.

Can we really earn our salvation? Can we really work hard enough to deserve a place in heaven? Will any amount of innovation, creativity, or usefulness really make God love us? The answer to all three is clearly no. Because we are God’s creation, made in God’s image to reflect the divine aspect and to give everything we are back to our Creator, there is nothing we ever do above and beyond what is expected of us. God’s grace to us is something that is freely given and undeserved. It is a true gift, something that is not as a result of our actions and does not warrant anything in return. God created us, Jesus became like us, and the Spirit now remains with us, not because of who we are, but because of who God is.

But that doesn’t sit well with us Type-A Americans, does it? We want to know that what we are doing means something, that we can overcome ourselves to assure the result we want. We allow a weight room theology to slip in. “If I say all of my prayers every day God will love me.” “I followed all the rules of the Church, received every sacrament I could, and gave money to the poor.” “I did something really bad. I need to do something to make up for it so that God will forgive me.” In each of these statements there is a desire to be in control, to convince God of our worthiness by doing good things. Isn’t that a bit silly when we think about it, though? Surely we could never convince God of anything, and even if we could, there could never be a rule to follow or a deed to complete that would be enough.

So does that mean everything is for nought? If we can’t earn salvation, what does it matter how we act? For our answer, let’s look to the parable of The Great Feast (Matthew 22:1-14, Luke 14:15-24). In both versions, the great king sends out his servants to tell the invited guests that the banquet is ready. They did not pay to enter the banquet, nor is it implied that they did anything to deserve attendance. What do they do with such a gift? They choose not to come. Caught up with worldly concerns, they make excuses and turn down the free banquet. Enraged, the king sends out his servants to the streets, inviting anyone and everyone, including “the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame,” surely not people that earned a place at the table. This does not mean that nothing is expected of them, however. Noticing that one of the guests came without a wedding garment, a sign of repentance and changed heart (not to mention disrespectful to the host!), the king kicked him out with the others that chose not to accept the gift.

Even though it is up to God who ultimately gets invited to the feast, it is up to us whether or not we accept the invitation and show up with a heart open to conversion. It is an acceptance that we are not in control of our destiny, that no amount of hard work or merit could ever guarantee us a place before God. In the chapel, unlike the weight room, we rely not on our own strength to be great, for our strength is nothing on its own. Rather, it is when we are weak that we are strong, when we allow Christ to lift us up, to take our pain, to direct our lives, that Christ lives in us and we are truly strong.

Ultimately, motivational quotes and inspirational commercials have there place. God has placed within us a tremendous amount of gifts that we often don’t recognize, and anything that aids in bringing them to perfection is alright with me. In our weight room at Holy Name college, we have this poster of Michael Jordan and this one of Rocky Balboa, along with loud speakers to play pump-up songs like this, all to help us dig deep within ourselves. Where does this strength come from? God, and God alone.

(But… just in case we forget, we have one more piece of motivation on the wall)

God is my strength, in the weight room and the chapel.

God is my strength, in the weight room and the chapel.

Co-Creators Through Christ

Not shown are the other 25 people working to make the campus more ecologically just.

Not shown are the other 25 people working to make the campus more ecologically just.

When we think of Creation, I imagine most people don’t get much further than the first Genesis story: God created the cosmos out of a formless waste, and after six days, God rested. From this story alone one might come to the conclusion that Creation was a static event in history, something that happened at one particular moment and is now finished.

And yet, when we look around our world, we do not see a static cosmos that was created once and for all many years ago: we see an ever-growing, ever-changing existence in which species of life are coming into and out of existence, stars are being created and destroyed, and the whole of the universe continues to expand. How do we explain this change?

The answer, I believe, is in part tied to our conception of the Trinity. As I wrote a few months back, there could not have been one “moment” in time when Jesus was “begotten” of the Father because Jesus is coeternal with the Father; for there to be an exact moment of “begotten-ness” there would have to be a time when Jesus did not exist just prior to that, making him not coeternal. How, then, was Jesus begotten and coeternal? “The only possible answer to this question is that it has always been happening… There can never be a moment in which God the Father is not creating through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, past, present, or future” (A Retreat With Saint Bonaventure).

Thus, when we look at Creation, I think that it is only logical that God, being a Creator by his very nature, is in and through every moment of Creation as it continues to happen. Creation was not a static moment in time, but rather continues to happen as God the Father sends forth his Son in the Holy Spirit.

But as Creation continues to unfold, God is not the only one in control of Creation. As Genesis 1:26 says:

“Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.”

This is profound to say the least. Not only are we as humans created in the image of God (wow) and entrusted with the care for God’s creation (wow), as rationale beings capable of wielding enormous control over the world in which we live, what God is saying in this passage is that we are actually co-creators with Him through Christ (WOW). It is completely within our power to learn from nature or to manipulate it for our own gain; to bring life or to destroy it; to care for what God is continuing to build or to pollute it and break it down. It is clear, in the unprecedented rise in global temperature, the increasing acidification of the ocean and decrease in life therein, the ever-growing landfills and toxic areas of our planet, and the displacement of so many due to ecological destruction, that humans have the ability to truly shape the world around us and that we have not always lived up to our role as just caretakers.


For almost six hours we moved dirt and rocks. Not all justice work is glamorous…

No more, said the parishioners of St. Camillus Church in Silver Spring, MD. No more would they be ignorant to the ways in which their church was adding to polluted waters and higher temperatures. No more would they stand idly by refusing to see that energy and pollution were as much “life issues” as anything else. And despite being a place of worship, St. Camillus was as guilty as anyone. You see, as we continue to cut down natural areas and place parking lots in their place, there are fewer opportunities for the water to be absorbed into the ground. When it rains, water collects very quickly and carries off both nutrients from the soil and harmful chemicals from the hard surfaces, flooding drains and streets rather than nourishing the plants and soil, and sending it all to freshwater sources. At St. Camillus, the tremendously-sized roof only exacerbates the problem, pouring a waterfall of rainwater down the hill directly into an unfiltered drain.

As a church, they decided that they could make a difference. On Saturday morning, forty volunteers strong showed up to the church for phase one of the project: removing the top layer of sod, displacing five inches of soil, turning over an additional five inches of soil, and mixing in three inches of fresh topsoil. For six hours, we cut, shoveled, picked, and carried literally tons of dirt and rock from one place to another, laying the foundation for drainage gardens (to be installed next week) and natural water filters made of many layers of rock.

The best part? We had fun doing it. Not only were we putting in an honest day’s work for the sake of the earth and our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we were building community. There’s a true sense of camaraderie and brotherhood/sisterhood when you spend most of a day with people on an incredibly tiring and worthwhile project. How can you not feel a sense of accomplishment when you work together to move a ton of dirt and rocks? How can you not feel a sense of accomplishment when you just did something that will actually care for the extraordinary world that God has created rather than destroy it?

And so I ask: As co-creators with God through Christ, a people endowed with a special gift, what will we add to God’s masterpiece? It is my hope that every part of my life, the way I eat, travel, shop, work, consume, and put back, will be a positive addition to the work God has started, and that it will continue as God continues to create the world anew each and every moment. Won’t you too?

The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth

Do you find this picture provocative or offensive? Why?

God is, was, and will be a part of every step of creation.

Given the amount of quality material out there and the fact that this is a somewhat tired and irrelevant topic for most Catholics, I’m a bit apprehensive about devoting a post to “the religion and science debate.” What more can I say that hasn’t been said better by others? On the other hand, the fact that it continues to surface unintelligently in pop culture and even in our churches tells me that it can’t hurt to try a new medium.

So here we go. Science and religion. The great debate of our time. Some say that science is the only real truth, that religion is mere superstition that propagates fairy tales and manipulates people into violence. Others say that the only real truth is religion, that science is unreliable and that it denies the existence of God. Clearly, I would say, both of these opinions lack an understanding of the other and should be dismissed: even if one is the perfect option, neither lacks truth in some sense. So where does that leave us?

In between the two poles you will find many saying that science confirms religion and that religion guides science. Among Christians, I would say that this opinion is the most common. What they are trying to do, it would seem, is to reconcile the differences in the two in order to create one cohesive worldview from two different disciplines. This, as nice as it may sound, is yet another misunderstanding of the nature of religion and science.

The key to understanding the “debate” is that it is not a debate at all: religion and science are concerned with two completely different, mutually exclusive forms of knowledge. In the same way that art and engineering are two completely different, yet important, ways to understand a new bathroom project, science and religion have completely different goals. Science, using only empirical data (data that can be measured objectively with the senses), is concerned with the facts, that is, statements that can be proven without a doubt. Religion on the other hand, using divine revelation and human reason, is concerned with truths about our existence, that is, statements that give our life meaning. Which is better?

Scientists like Richard Dawkins or Neil Degrasse Tyson want to argue that this makes science better (although I would like to note that I do like much of what Degrasse has to say.) They say, and rightly so, that the great thing about science is that if something is a fact, it is so no matter what we believe. One can not simply “believe” that gravity does not exist because one doesn’t want to. Because of this, though, they look down on religion because of its lack of proof: “How can you believe in a God that you can’t prove exists?” they ask. What they want is a scientific answer to a religious question, facts where people are searching for meaning. To me, this is like asking an artist why they paint even though it cannot provide electricity for the house. It’s ridiculous because that is not the concern of art. As far as religion is concerned, there is no proof for what we believe because proof of God would actually collapse our free will. Proof does not allow for choice; it does not allow for faith. Surely this is not what God wants. Instead, the purpose of religion is to use the evidence we have, both from revelation and reason, to find meaning in our life about God to help us assent to him.

Because of this, it is a grave mistake for us as Christians to view science as anything other than an incredible resource. When we look to the world, we want to be as informed as possible as to how it works, don’t we?! It is a tragic reality that many Christians view science with skepticism, or worse yet, that they see it as a threat to their religious beliefs. Quoting Leo XIII’s encyclical Providentissimus Deus, John Paul II addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences with this remark in 1996: “Truth cannot contradict truth.” In other words, if something is scientifically true then it cannot be against the truth of God.

This statement must be the basis of any interaction between science and religion; it must be the lens through which we understand any new information, no matter the medium. To dismiss new truths from science (or any hermeneutical device for that matter, e.g. art) is to limit our ability to properly interpret the evidence of our existence. To dismiss them on the basis of a particular interpretation of scripture is utterly foolish. As far back as the 4th century, St. Augustine recognized that an ignorant faith only repelled people from the church:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world. . . and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics. . . The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? (citation here)

It doesn’t matter what the topic is. Creation. Evolution. Reproduction. Homosexuality. Genetics. Astronomy. Thermodynamics. Fracking. Stem cells. If we begin from a religious statement that contradicts or disregards truth from other disciplines, namely scientific fact, because we are afraid to incorporate new information into a broader interpretation or as an attempt to pass off a statement of faith as a statement of scientific proof, we will look foolish and unattractive to non-believers. This is what we unfortunately see from Christians wishing to use the Bible as a science textbook, emphatically declaring that the earth is only 6,000 years old. It is a response that exhibits fear and a lack of faith. Why couldn’t God have created the world out of nothing AND continue to create it anew each day through the process of evolution? (For a truly fantastic article that deals with this specifically, I strongly encourage that you read “Creationism is Materialism’s Creation“.)

Using every possible form of knowledge does not make us atheists, it makes us grateful that God gave us the ability to reason!

Using every possible form of knowledge does not make us atheists, it makes us grateful that God gave us the ability to reason!

While his theology may need a little work, I find Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. to be a fascinating example of someone able to incorporate the latest in scientific research into a Christocentric Universe. Essentially (and briefly because this post is already too long and going down a rabbit hole we might get stuck in!) Chardin took Charles Darwin’s principles of evolution that all organisms have a natural, material propensity to grow more complex and to reproduce, and added a theological element to it: all of creation has a “driving force” within it so that evolutionary steps are not random, but rather an organism’s yearning to converge on one point, Christ, the connection between the creator and created. In this way God is in not some distant creator that walked away after putting his creation into motion. He is ever creating as it continues to unfold.

Ultimately, I will close by quoting a man most brilliant in his field, Albert Einstein: “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” As Christians, we want the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, wherever God is willing to reveal it to us. Let us do as the Apostle Paul tells us: “Test everything; keep what is good.”