Become Inspired, Leave Empowered #EarthOptimism

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Cropped from BLM 2016 Making a Difference National Volunteer Awards. By Bureau of Land Management. Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

Is it sometimes ok to dance in the midst of mourning? Is there time to laugh, or only to weep?[1]

On Earth Day 2017 I joined a worldwide celebration of a concept not usually featured in conservation news: hope. ‘Surely this is no time for celebration?’, you may Continue reading

Real Science: Untimely Deaths, the Necessity of Hope, and Struggles with Tin Openers

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By Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes, it can be nice to remember that scientists are people too. That author of a cutting-edge paper about multiverse models might currently be crawling around his lounge with his one-year-old, pretending to be a tiger. That professor talking about climate change on the news segment might spend next Saturday stuck in traffic, panicking about Continue reading

What is the world for? Creation, purpose, and hope in difficult times

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Why should we explore the world? According to Jonathan Moo, a Biblical scholar who is currently based at the Faraday Institute, creation is not just valuable for what we get from it. In today’s podcast (transcript below) he explains why he believes the living world is valuable in itself. He also shares why he does not lose hope in the face of environmental problems – including yesterday’s US election result. Continue reading

Ecological Hope

© Ruth Bancewicz

Human activity on our planet continues to cause wide scale ecological havoc at such a rate that it can be tempting to give up hope, sit back, and let things unfold however they will. When Richard Bauckham spoke at the Faraday Institute a couple of weeks ago his message was far more positive. Yes, massive environmental damage has been done and some of the consequences are unstoppable, but from his perspective as a theologian there is real hope. I was inspired by Bauckham’s talk because he has taken a realistic look at the science of climate change and other ecological disasters in the light of his faith, and has come away with a plan of action that is not the least bit miserable.

Anyone promising hope needs to know the context they’re speaking into. Bauckham described how the New Testament book of Revelation was written in the first instance for Christians living under intense persecution in Rome (hence its coded ‘apocalyptic’ language), and it inspired them to keep going. Our context is a faded utopia of economic and technological growth. It was once thought that the potential for improvement was pretty much limitless. Our hope was to stop environmental damage through economic and technological fixes, but climate change is now underway and further change is inevitable – with both foreseeable and unforeseeable consequences. We can only try to stop things getting much worse. How can we go on hoping? Continue reading

Wonder

Aurora borealis, Joshua Strang, public domain.

When I ask scientists about the positive interaction between science and faith, awe and wonder nearly always play a large part in the conversation.

Awe is the mixture of overwhelmment, wonder and fear that we often feel when we encounter something larger, more beautiful, powerful or complex than anything we see in our everyday lives. Sometimes even reverence, or respect come into it. The night sky, vast landscapes and the mighty forces of wind and sea are accessible to most people on this planet, and frequently leave us speechless.

Wonder, on the other hand, is a more active and hopeful emotion. When we’re confronted by something new, unexpected, or especially beautiful, we often want to examine and understand it. We might doubt what knowledge we thought we had about it, and enjoy the process of asking questions and beginning to untangle its mystery. Continue reading