This post is part of the conference about “Jesus and Nature: Catholic Perspectives on Environmental Issues”, presented in Rio from July 22-24 for WYD. Thank you to Dr. José Duarte de Barros Filho for this valuable contribution.
Biology and Faith are two marvelous aspects of the majesty, wisdom and love of God
Biology is defined like a science that deals with a specially rich aspect of Creation – life, which in itself manifests one of the greatest gifts of God, as something more close to Himself in the Creation’s ordinance.
The relationship between Biology and Faith leads to the idea of harmony between reason and Faith, the “two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio). In this sense is important remember that nature has, in God’s will, its own purpose, shape and destiny designed for His plans, and Man cannot irresponsibly alter this, but develop its true potential within the limits of mature consideration and moral honesty.
When the relation of Man with God does not determine the relation of Man with Nature, and between Man and himself, several kinds of problems arise. In other words, when Man moves apart from the guidance of God and the Church in the Nature subject, the natural world becomes a mere object to be handled for consumption, just as an utilitarian element.
Pope Francis said in his Catechesis, 2013-06-05 that the Human Ecology can be understood as the care for the human being in relation to his dependency of the environment; or, as the relation of Man with Nature in the aspect of human survivorship and his right to a dignified life. Thus is evident the connection between Human and Environmental Ecology. Both approaches to Ecology, by their goals, underline the dignity of Science, but historical and current deviations from its relations with God led, consequently, to a bad relationship of Man with Nature. Anyway, Human Ecology is a link of the living organism of the Mystical Body to the environmental issues – a kind of (necessary) “person to person” interaction between organisms, the Church on one side and humankind plus Nature on the other, the two branches of the same tree rooted in God.
In that sense, the role and responsibility of Catholics, especially those who act in the fields of environment, are clarified and encouraged: as human beings, as part of Nature, as specialists, and as Catholics, i.e., as part of the Mystical Body of Christ: this is the perspective of the importance of their engagement in the care of Nature, considering the subject in the light of God’s (transcendental and eternal) plans;
To preserve Nature, the living organisms and the environment, as desired nowadays, it is absolutely necessary to depurate from the debate the widespread limited horizontal perspective, merely ideological and political, and situate the question in the ambit of its true value: the interaction with the Mystical Body organism of Christ and its life’s – eternal – life – perspective. Taking this in account, the human dignity will reveal the proper dignity of the rest of Creation, and will point the right way, built on its true base – the Angular Stone, Christ – to the effective measures to be taken in the environmental issues. This is the most appropriate and deep relationship possible between Biology and Faith.