The Minding of Planet Earth

 Cardinal Cathal Daly, Archbishop of Armagh, is launching his latest book, The Minding of Planet Earth, today. He said: "The relationship between religion and science is a question which has interested me for many years. I have long marvelled at the mysterious relationship between the human mind and the physical universe."

Cardinal Daly continued: "How does it come about that mathematical calculations performed by human minds can express and correlate physical phenomena in the non-human world and can even predict occurrences in the world of matter? Humans appeared in the universe very late in evolutionary terms; the universe existed for millions of years without any human presence; and yet it is mysteriously attuned to human minds when these at last appear on the earth. How can this be explained? Science itself teaches us to look for common causes when we discover linked events. The only ultimate satisfying answer to these questions is that God, the Creator, implanted in the human mind a finite participation in his infinite Mind, and implanted in the universe a pattern of rational order which makes it intelligible to the human mind.

"Contemporary culture has inherited a centuries-old mind-set, to the effect that religion, and specifically Christianity, is inherently hostile to science. My book questions this mind-set. It contends, that, on the contrary, Christianity made a vital contribution to the birth of modem science. It deals with the condemnation of Galileo, the classical example so often adduced in support of the claim that Christianity and science are incompatible; and indeed that the advance of science necessarily entails the retreat and the eventual disappearance of religion; and it gives reasons for refusing this claim."

Cardinal Daly continued, "Related to this is the thesis that Christianity, in its concern with the 'other world', neglects this world; that it is so fixated on the 'next life' that it is indifferent to the concerns of life on earth; that it gives value only to the soul, despising and hating the body. I give reasons for rejecting these ideas as a distortion of Christianity.

"My last and largest chapter challenges the suggestion that Christianity, and specifically the Bible, have given human beings absolute dominion over the planet, with a mandate to 'subdue' it, using and exploiting its resources as they please, without moral restraint and without thought of the effect on the planet's other living creatures, animal, vegetable or mineral. The book argues that the Biblical mandate given to human beings by the Creator, is a stewardship, to be exercised in accordance with the divine plan for creation and subject to the moral law of justice and respect for the rights of others, and particularly for the poor people and nations who share the planet with those who are not poor. Men and women are stewards, not masters, of the universe, They are given a duty of care for the planet, not a plunderer's licence. Stewardship implies justice within and between nations, and especially between rich and poor nations, and between rich and poor citizens within the same nation. This stewardship can fittingly be summarised, in the words of a document from the World Council of Churches, as Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation; or, as Pope John Paul put it in his World Day of Peace Message for 1990: "Peace with God, Peace with all Creation."

Cardinal Daly concluded: "My book sounds a note of urgency. Effective action must be taken, and must be taken soon; action must be taken nationally and internationally, and it must be taken by all of us at local or domestic level, if environmental catastrophe and international and inter-racial conflict at world level are to be averted. Much of what has been done up to now is mere tokenism, given the scale of looming crisis. There must be changes of life and lifestyle, and these do not come without cost. Life in accordance with the gospel of Jesus Christ is relevant to the survival of life on this planet, as much as it is relevant to the salvation of souls. Christian conversion and ecological 'conversion' converge."

This book is published by Veritas Publications with a Belfast launch in Canada Rooms, Queen's University today and a Dublin launch at Veritas House tomorrow. Each launch is to be addressed by Professor Patrick Masterson, formerly President of University College, Dublin and formerly President of the European University, Florence.

First posted: MAYNOOTH - 23 August 2004 - 735 words

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