Creation in Crisis: Science, Ethics, Theology

By Chaffey, Charles E. | Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, March 2016 | Go to article overview

Creation in Crisis: Science, Ethics, Theology


Chaffey, Charles E., Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith


CREATION IN CRISIS: Science, Ethics, Theology by Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2014. xii + 388 pages. Paperback; $50.00. ISBN: 9781626981003.

King David was enjoying his relationship with his wife Bathsheba and their infant son, when Nathan the prophet came over and told him a story of a rich man, who, for his own convenience, had taken away his poor neighbor's one resource, a valued lamb. Angered, David declared, "The man who did this deserves to die!" only to be told by Nathan, "You are the man!" (2 Sam. 12:5, 7). Now Joshtrom Kureethadam declares that the one resource of many poor in the tropics, productivity of the land, has been taken away because of climate change. We in the wealthy countries are to blame: our affluent, sinful lifestyle has caused an ecological crisis, an injustice with physical, moral, and spiritual aspects, and we must repent through an ecological conversion. The author is a Roman Catholic priest, born in Kerala, India, in 1966, who defended his doctoral thesis, Rene Descartes and the Philosophical Roots of the Ecological Crisis, in 2007, and is now secretary and lecturer in the Faculty of Philosophy of the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome.

A brief introduction outlines the book's message. Then, Part I, "Are We Tearing Down Our Home?," traces the formation of Earth and its biosphere--home to humanity --from the Big Bang, through the accretion of the solar system, to the origin and evolution of life, culminating in modern humans. Over millennia, agriculture and industrialization shaped civilization, and "some of the major world religions were born: the great mystical religions of the East like Hinduism and Buddhism, and the great religions of revelation like Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the Middle East..." (p. 45). All this occurred on Earth, "a unique home for life in the infinitely vast universe" (p. 46). But now our home is evidently in peril: the scientific community has confirmed the ecological crisis, with global climate change its worst feature. Humans are deliberately destroying our common home.

In Parts II, III, and IV of the book, Kureethadam describes the ecological crisis as "a triple cry--of the earth, of the poor, and of the gods" (p. 78). The earth cries out: Your greenhouse gases have made my climate intolerable for present-day life, with the rising oceans inundating the best land, and with droughts, extinctions, pollution, and waste. The poor cry out: Insecure food supply, scarce fresh water, and bad sanitation are driving us from our homes as ecological migrants. Growth in our population is not the problem, but injustice is: you rich consume and destroy the earth's productivity, while we poor suffer the worst consequences. The gods cry out: You fail "to look at the physical world as God's creation and abode, and to treat God's home with the due reverence" (p. …

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