During the first evening of the 2019 ELCIC National Convention, Dr. David Sauchyn, University of Regina and Dr. Mary Vetter, Luther College presented on the topic of Reconciliation with Creation – a in depth discussion on the mix of science, faith and the journey of global reconciliation. Dr. Vetter is a former biology professor with expertise in the field of botany and plant taxonomy, while Dr. Sauchyn specializes in prairie hydroclimate and climate change science.
Dr. Sauchyn – current Executive Director of the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) – highlighted for delegates the serious matters of global warming, providing intellectual insight with various examples/models of the potential combinations of science, technology and Christian faith.
“When it really comes down to it, climate change is much more than a scientific problem,” Dr. Sauchyn claimed. “Climate change is a social problem, it’s a spiritual problem, and it’s a social justice problem; we need wisdom to tackle it. And science doesn’t give us wisdom. It only gives us data and information.”
The University of Regina’s longtime professor of geography gave the example of Saskatchewan – which produces the second-most greenhouse gases per capita in the world – as a local model. Amongst other noteworthy statistics, Sauchyn also touched on the fact that June 2019 was the 414th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th Century average.
“The fundamental problem is we are telling one another a reassuring lie,” he said. “We are telling each other that technology will take care of it – it won’t. We are telling each other that the problem is not as serious as it seems – not true. We are all in passive denial. We love to complain about climate change deniers, but the fact is, we are all in denial. It is going to take some kind of way of understanding, some other way of knowing – other than science – to put us on a trajectory where we can lessen our effect on the world, the atmosphere and on creation.”
Following a half-hour discussion time at delegate tables, Dr. Vetter presented further on the theme of reconciliation, providing teachings, challenges and information that made the assembly reflect on personal choices and responsibilities, pushing delegates, guests and visitors to think deeper about their specific roles in reconciliation with creation.
“Pursuing Reconciliation with Creation is challenging,” she reflected. “Science itself cannot give us the wisdom for reconciliation. We need scripture, faith, empathy, experience and scholarship across all disciplines. It is not hard to identify some of the barriers to reconciliation. At this point, we may not even recognize climate change, as we already live in one of the most variable climates on earth. How are we even really going to see it?”
Vetter’s experience as a Lutheran biology professor, paired with her time conducting paleobotanical research provided for an insightful lesson in earthly reconciliation, and care for creation.
“We are truly blessed with a place to stand in God’s love,” Dr. Vetter continued. “Even in the midst of complexity and confusion, we are aware that all of creation is God’s work in love. We acknowledge through confession that both individually and collectively, we have not always treated it that way. Forgiveness frees and empowers us to stride for atonement. And seek the moral, spiritual power that will transform our actions.”