National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology. More than any year that I can remember in my life, we are reliant on science and technology. During this time of Stage 4 lockdown so many of us are reliant on technology to stay in touch, to see our family and friends, to order our shopping, to find the latest news, to entertain us, and even to connect with our Sunday Worship community. We would have to say technology has been a blessing for us during this time. Similarly, we are all waiting for the first scientific breakthrough in the discovery of a vaccine for COVID-19. I find myself grateful that there are people who have dedicated their lives to scientific and medical research and who know how to imagine that there could be a vaccine for coronavirus. We have all been on a strong learning curve over these last months as we have been exposed to the scientific worlds of epidemiology and genomic fingerprinting – words that now roll off the tongue but were unknown in many circles just a few months ago.
So this week we should give thanks to those who have dedicated their lives to science, medicine, technology and research. Can you imagine life without your IT support person, your doctor, your specialists; without access to medication, communication, animation? Our scientists and technicians can turn human dreams into reality and improve our lives enormously.
It is a shame that sometimes religion is pitted against science. This shouldn’t be the case. Science and religion are not enemies. They both can assist us in uncovering the mystery of our world and of our lives. Christianity at its best is a quest for truth and discernment of what is being revealed to us in and through the created world and our human experience. In fact, we are more than ever aware that the natural world and the thriving of human beings are dependent on each other.
Pope Francis has written about this in his encyclical Laudato Si. Here he talks of integral ecology. In using the term integral ecology, Pope Francis is pointing to the fact that the earth and peoples are intimately connected. The natural environment cannot be considered as something outside of ourselves or simply a setting in which we live. Nor can human beings and their joys and struggles be considered without reference to the environment. The notion of integral ecology respects the interconnectedness of the earth and its peoples.
This year the theme for National Science Week is The Deep Blue Innovation for the Future of our Oceans. In 2019 Pope Francis also called for an emphasis on the Oceans of the world. They need protection as do the millions of people who rely on water and the sea for their livelihood. He has asked Catholics to pray and take action so that politicians, scientists, and economists work together to establish protective measures for the oceans.
Science and technology do not often get highlighted in our newsletters or Sunday liturgies. Today let’s give thanks and praise for all those who contribute to a better world through these wonderful endeavours.
Here is a great article on three scientists who talk about how their faith links to their work. It’s worth a read: Are religion and science always at odds? Here are three scientists that don’t think so.
And here is a prayer we might pray from time to time to unite us with the creator and to keep us mindful of the gift of creation.
Father of kindness,
you created the world for us
and entrust your children with the stewardship of creation.
We ask your forgiveness
for not knowing how to take care of the beauty that has been entrusted to us
and using selfishly and unreflectively
the resources we possess.
We apologise for our lack of sensitivity and love
to nature and to your sons and daughters
who suffer the consequences of our bad choices.
Give us light to make decisions for the defence of the oceans,
doing everything in our power to make the Earth
the place of beauty that you dreamed for us.