Belfast Telegraph

Is it not our duty to save the world as well as save souls?

Thought for the weekend

By Allen Sleith

A week ago, the highest and largest court of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland met in Belfast for its General Assembly, where, among other things, discussions and debates lead to the annual legislative redefinition of the life and mission of the whole denomination.

For me, at least, the most telling and stinging comment was not one of the plethora made on the Church's near obsession with human sexuality (especially same-sex relations) but an overseas delegate who quietly noted with some surprise that the Presbyterian Church in Ireland doesn't seem to have a coherent viewpoint or stated policy on the environment.

Admittedly, it might be difficult to arrive at some policy statement that gains widespread agreement within the Church but the aspiration and aim are surely important, even imperative.

If Presbyterians are as precious about the psalter as a rich resource for worship, praise, prayer and theology as they like to claim perhaps it's not asking too much to actually espouse a responsible worldview and advocate an ethic that took seriously Psalm 24 when it says that "the earth is the Lord's and everything in it".

A recent book by Edward O. Wilson entitled Half-Earth: Our Planet's Fight For Life sees the two-time Pulitzer Prizewinning author set out a radical agenda in which he proposes an achievable plan to save our endangered biosphere (due to human rapacity) by devoting half the surface of the Earth to nature.

Only thus, he argues, can we head off the environmental crisis that will diminish or even destroy life for countless species, including our own.

As a world-renowned natural scientist, Wilson knows his stuff. I lost count of the mind-boggling facts and mind-expanding perspectives that came to me from reading his book.

If one of our perennial human traits, not to say, sins, is our myopic view of life, then Wilson's book is indeed truly educational and ironically, quite prophetic, working as I am here with the notion that prophets are rarely appreciated at the time but vindicated in the long run.

As the great explorer-naturalist Alexander von Humboldt put it:

"The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world."

Belfast Telegraph

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