Guest Post – Stranded: Life and death in the ocean

stranded-1
Images © Ackroyd & Harvey

Do you go to an art exhibition to be soothed and delighted, or challenged and disturbed? Science uses highly creative approaches to investigate the natural world, but art can perhaps offer a deeper, more personal engagement. Continue reading

Water and Life: The Unique Properties of H2O

16578376167_b295cd8c4f_k
A New Voyage by Brooks Bailey – Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Water is a strange thing. The unique structure of its molecules allow it take on three different forms: a liquid that is easily absorbed into porous substances (i.e. it’s wet!), ice that floats, and a gas. In the book Water and Life: The Unique Properties of H2O, the biophysicist Felix Franks has contributed a chapter explaining some of these properties, and how they may have played a part in the origin of life.

The chemistry of life has adapted to water and become very dependent on it, so that even ‘heavy water’[i] is toxic in Continue reading

Climate Change, Sustainable Living, and the Generosity of God

ClimateChangeTalks on climate change and sustainability don’t often start with a discussion of generosity, but that is what we see on Earth. The natural resources available at the beginning of human history were not unlimited, but they were vast.

God’s awesome creativity resulted in a world in which living things essentially make themselves, using the materials available to them. For example, plants, algae, and some bacteria use air, water, sunlight and minerals to make their food. The rest of us eat these ‘primary producers’, or the organisms that ate them, so the whole of the living world essentially thrives on a few basic raw materials.

In the economy of ecosystems, nothing is wasted. Minerals and other nutrients are recycled from decaying organic matter. Water is recycled and purified by the processes of evaporation and rainfall. Everything is used for something, and through the dynamic processes of life, the overall trend on Earth has been towards increasing diversity and complexity.

In the story of the prodigal son, a generous father gives half of his property to his son, allowing him to learn by his mistakes. This parable is played out, in part, in our relationship with the environment. Genesis 1 describes how we are called to be responsible for the whole of creation, but we have used the world’s resources in ways which – while inventive – were not always wise. Many of our enterprises have been disastrously short sighted, wasteful and destructive. The end of the story is that God forgives our mistakes and loves us no less because of them, but there are still practical consequences to be dealt with.

The United Nations Conference on Climate Change this week is an attempt to address the damage that is still being done, and will hopefully result in effective and fair solutions. Measures need to be taken to protect vulnerable people and ecosystems, and to ration or recover resources that are now scarce. Extravagant standards of living must be brought down to a sustainable level. Poorer countries deserve the opportunity to develop in sustainable ways.

So is this the end of God’s generosity? I don’t think so. Sustainable living is not just about cutting down, but is about the improvement in everyone’s quality of life that will come from using natural resources well. We really can aim for a full, just and responsible enjoyment of the amazing gifts that our generous God has provided for us.

Reposted here with permission of The London Institute for Contemporary Culture.

RuthBancewicz
Photo credit: Nigel Bovey

Ruth Bancewicz is a Senior Research Associate at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, where she works on the positive interaction between science and faith. After studying Genetics at Aberdeen University, she completed a PhD at Edinburgh University, based at the MRC Human Genetics Unit. She spent two years as a part-time postdoctoral researcher at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology at Edinburgh University, while also working as the Development Officer for Christians in Science. Ruth then moved to The Faraday Institute to develop the Test of FAITH resources, the first of which were launched in 2009. Ruth is a trustee of Christians in Science and on the advisory council of BioLogos.

 

In the Eye of the Barracuda: Beauty in the Ocean

© free images – enbrut Dani
© free images – enbrut Dani

The oceans are the least explored place in the world. They are a source of great beauty and value to ourselves as a source of food, water and so many other ‘ecosystem services’, as well as having their own intrinsic value.  Marine conservationist Bob Sluka has featured on this blog a number of times, and in this month’s podcast he shares his appreciation of the beauty of the oceans, and how that relates to his faith. Continue reading

Life in the Ocean: Bob Sluka

Bob Sluka is a marine conservationist whose work feeds directly into his faith. In this short video series Bob explains how he came to be working in marine biology, and how his science and belief fit together. To find out more about Bob’s work, and the experience of awe in science, see God in the Lab: How Science Enhances Faith (Monarch, 2015).

Continue reading

Under the Bright Wings: Science, Faith and Conservation

© Vivek Chugh, freeimages.com
© Vivek Chugh, freeimages.com

There is a place in Portugal where people of faith use their knowledge of ornithology, botany, ecology and other environmental sciences to serve God by studying and conserving whole ecosystems. Visitors help with bird ringing, observing and recording the different plants and animals in the surrounding area, and join in with every aspect of community life.

A Rocha Portugal was the first step in founding Continue reading

Jellyfish: Beauty, Ecology, Wonder and the Bible

© David Patras, Creative Commons license 3.0
© David Patras, Creative Commons license 3.0

How can faith and ecology work together? Dr Robert (Bob) Sluka, a marine biologist who works for the Christian conservation organisation A Rocha, has given a lot of thought to this question. In today’s guest post he shares his thoughts on integrating the Bible and science, prompted by a family day at the beach.

A few weeks ago our family spent the weekend at the seaside. The beach, in England, in January, is not the most inviting place. However, we were all needing to see the ocean and indeed half our family ultimately heeded its siren call to jump in. Continue reading