Faithful Learning in Science- God and His Creation
By: Mr. Jeff Kirkpatrick (High School Science and Photography Teacher)
As both a student and a teacher of science over the past 25 years of my life I’ve had many occasions to think deeply about what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus within this sphere of knowledge and practice. One of the pleasant aspects of my time here at Rosslyn Academy has been the opportunity to teach a class on environmental science. It will come as no surprise to those who know me that this is an area of deep passion in my life, and this passion stems out of my love for God and his creation. As I have struggled with ways in which to pass on the importance of this pursuit to my students year after year, my thoughts always have gone back to two important passages in the Bible. The first, at the very beginning of the narrative of Scripture, is the interaction of God with himself in community, who, in the process of enabling mankind to take his place in the created order, says “let us make mankind in our Image”. The ancients would likely have understood this in the context of a king’s dominion being placed in the hands of a faithful steward – the King’s image-bearer. This image-bearing role that has been given to mankind inspires me (and hopefully, through me to my students) to be a faithful steward of all God’s creation as someone divinely ordained to represent God and his purposes throughout all he has made.
In the second passage, Jesus, speaking to the crowds and to his disciples, when asked about the greatest commandment, reiterates the Shema, that prayer of faithfulness that all devout Jews would pray each day – “…Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength”. He then goes on to say that the rest of the greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as an extension of this love for God. This then precipitates the well-known story of the Good Samaritan where Jesus turns convention on its head and in no uncertain terms tells his listeners – and us – that our neighbor relation extends to those most unlikely to be considered our neighbors. Theologian Reinhold Neibuhr argues that this analogy extends to include both future generations of people and to non-human creation. As I emphasize with my students, this means that my image-bearing role as God’s steward places on me the responsibility to care for the created order, in a way that allows it to flourish in its own God-appointed role and also seeks to allow all of humanity, both living now and living in the future, to enjoy and benefit from this complex living world. I can only be effective in this vocation if I dedicate my whole being to understanding the intricacies of creation.