I was trained as a biologist, and I can appreciate the challenge and the technical mastery involved in isolating, understanding, and manipulating genes.… But I only have to stand still for a minute and watch the outcome of thirty million years’ worth of hummingbird evolution transubstantiated before my eyes into nest and egg to get knocked down to size. I have held in my hand the germ of a plant engineered to grow, yield its crop, and then murder its own embryos, and there I glimpsed the malevolence that can lie in the heart of a profiteering enterprise. 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.” By the power vested in everything living, let us keep to that faith. I’m a scientist who thinks it wise to enter the doors of creation not with a lion tamer’s whip and chair, but with the reverence humankind has traditionally summoned for entering places of worship: a temple, a mosque, or a cathedral. A sacred grove, as ancient as time.
Pope John Paul II
Faced with the glory of the Trinity in creation, we must contemplate, sing, and rediscover awe.… But this capacity for contemplation and knowledge, this discovery of a transcendent presence in creation, must also lead us to rediscover our fraternity with the earth, to which we have been linked since creation. This very goal was foreshadowed by the Old Testament in the Hebrew Jubilee, when the earth rested and man gathered what the land spontaneously offered (Lev. 25:11–12). If nature is not violated and humiliated, it returns to being the sister of humanity.
Where you have absolute solutions, you have no need of faith. Faith is what you have in the absence of knowledge. The reason this clash doesn’t bother me any longer is because I have got, over the years, a sense of the immense sweep of creation, of the evolutionary process in everything, of how incomprehensible God must necessarily be to be the God of heaven and earth. You can’t fit the Almighty into your intellectual categories.
The Bible leaves no doubt at all about the sanctity of the act of worldmaking, or of the world that was made, or of creaturely or bodily life in this world. We are holy creatures living among other holy creatures in a world that is holy. Some people know this, and some do not. Nobody, of course, knows it all the time. But what keeps it from being far better known than it is? Why is it apparently unknown to millions of professed students of the Bible? How can modern Christianity have so solemnly folded its hands while so much of the work of God was and is being destroyed?
Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder (Harper Collins, 2002), 108. Pope John Paul II, general audience, January 26, 2000, Zenit translation. Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979), 476– 477. Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace, ed. Norman Wirzba (Counterpoint, 2002), 309.