Science can give us a sense of wonder and a conviction that something must be done to save our world.
Former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Sir John Houghton told audiences at Catalyst Live in Sheffield and Reading, England, about how science can point us to God and toward our duty to save the world.
Starting with the fact that there are 100 sextillion (a 1 followed by 23 zeroes) stars in the universe, Houghton focused first on scientific causes for wonder – from the size, age and subatomic makeup of the universe to the idea that it has been “fine-tuned” to allow and nurture human life on Earth.
He then went on to point out the limits of science, which lie in describing the universe, rather than explaining why it came into being.
Houghton said that the personality we see in humans implies a personality in their creator, suggesting that there is no fundamental quarrel between science and our faith.
“The science I do is God’s science,” he said, expressing wonder not only at what science knows, but also at what it does not know and has yet to discover.
The second major theme of Houghton’s address focused on climate change – an area where what science knows can spur us on to action.
Detailing the overwhelming scientific evidence for the impact human-made climate change is making on our planet, Houghton highlighted the terrible damage this is already doing to our world.
Melting Arctic ice sheets delight the fossil fuel industry because they free up more fossil fuels to exploit, Houghton said. “They don’t care” about the impact of climate change, he said.
The impact, he said, “disproportionately affects the poor.”
“Africa in particular will be vulnerable to these things,” he said, also detailing the impact of global warming on countries like Bangladesh.
Houghton also commented on climate change’s impact on biodiversity.
“We are the generation who are going to be blamed for losing millions of species,” he said, pointing out that renewable energy and energy efficiency could help in the fight against climate change.
“God is our partner in caring for creation, but that doesn’t mean God does it all,” he said. “We have to do something about it.”
Jonathan Langley is the editor of BMS World Mission’s Mission Catalyst magazine. A version of this news article about Houghton’s lecture at the 2014 Catalyst Live event first appeared on the BMS World Mission website. It is used with permission. You can follow him on Twitter @JontyLangley and BMS @BMSWorldMission.
Editor’s note: A photo news story from Catalyst Live 2014 is available here. Previous articles about Catalyst Live include:
Jonathan Langley is Head of Creative Content at BMS World Mission and editor of Missions Catalyst magazine.