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The Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter on Ecology (Fifth part)

Today we resume the comment of the biblical reflections contained in the Encyclical letter “Laudato si’” of Pope Francis:

69. Together with our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly, we are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes: “by their mere existence they bless him and give him glory”,[41] and indeed, “the Lord rejoices in all his works” (Ps 104:31). By virtue of our unique dignity and our gift of intelligence, we are called to respect creation and its inherent laws, for “the Lord by wisdom founded the earth” (Prov 3:19). In our time, the Church does not simply state that other creatures are completely subordinated to the good of human beings, as if they have no worth in themselves and can be treated as we wish. The German bishops have taught that, where other creatures are concerned, “we can speak of the priority of beingover that of being useful”. The Catechism clearly and forcefully criticizes a distorted anthropocentrism: “Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection… Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things”.

The great dignity of man comes from their being created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26). So he shares something of the God’s nature, being different from all other God’s creatures. Since men and women have this great dignity – cf. also Gen 2:7 – they cannot take advantage of the natural resources, because all created things have an intrinsic value that must be respected.

The Encyclical letter speaks also about the “internal laws” of the cosmos, quoting an important biblical passage: «The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth» (Pr 3,19). According to the Jews the “wisdom” was the “Torah”, the Law that Christians call “Pentateuch”. According to the Jews God created the Torah before the cosmos. God used the Torah as a kind of “musical store” to play the music by which He created all that exists. In fact, the Genesis’ account speaks also about the “way” by which God created the cosmos.

Genesis’ account says that God “divided” – e.g. the light from the darkness (cf Gen 1:1-7) – differentiating the elements of the cosmos. Even if the Bible is not a book of science, we may see here some of the “internal laws” that govern the life of the universe. So, the wisdom by which God created the world, is not only the Torah. Wisdom is a general term to indicate the “way” – also the “internal laws” – by which God created the universe.

Since God disposed the laws that govern the cosmos, science and scientists can just “discover” the physical laws of the universe. Science doesn’t create anything, because scientists may only find or discover what has been created by God. Scientists should remember that they will never discover “all the laws” that govern the universe. In fact, science is not God and scientists – even if they don’t know it – are His servants!

Simone Venturini

Scrittore

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