The Rising Tides of Science and Faith
by Gregory I. Simpson
I have spent the last 5 days visiting family in the Caribbean and reflecting on the challenges small countries face in the injustices of climate change and the Church’s response. There are very few words to describe the lush and vibrant colors of nature that I have been reminded of as I travel around the island of Jamaica. It is in effect an island of contradictions.
Beauty exudes from the flora and fauna as well as from the people themselves. At the same time there are also visible signs of environmental and ecological damage to the most pristine of beaches. This, in some measure caused by rising tides, shifting sands and unpredictable weather patterns. And while the country is in the midst of massive infrastructure development, there is a loss of the lush produce that I had come to so enjoy.
In the midst of these observations, Revelation 21:1 which speaks of a “new heaven and a new earth” one in which “the sea was no more,” jumps to mind. How important a role does a scripture such as this play in the life of a Christian as the threat of sea level rise becomes real, in the gulf coast of America and Jamaica? How can science, influenced by faith become accessible to congregations?
These are not easy questions to answer, as Union Theological Seminary graduate Lynn White pointed out in a 1967 Science Journal paper entitled “The historical roots of our ecological crisis.” There are failings on both sides of the science religion debate, but there are also wonderful opportunities that can correct some of these ecological imbalances. The question is, do we as a faith community have the will to help find them?
Gregory Simpson holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of the West Indies, completed a Master of Divinity in Bible and Ethics from Union Theological Seminary (UTS) in the City of New York and is now completing a Master in Sacred Theology in Ethics at UTS with a focus on ecological ethics. Under care of First Presbyterian in the ordination process, Dr. Simpson served as a seminary intern at Broadway Presbyterian and The Riverside Church. At UTS he was founder and Co-Chair of the Theology, Science and Religion Caucus and served as Co-Chair of the Student Senate at UTS. He is currently a volunteer at the Center for Earth Ethics, focusing on biblical ethics, intellectual property rights and climate change.