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The Council of Christian Colleges and Universities Series
Stressing the biblical message of stewardship, biologist Richard T. Wright celebrates the study of God's creation and examines the interaction of the life sciences with society in medicine, genetics, and the environment. The author brings a biblical perspective to theories on origins, contrasting creationism, intelligent design, and evolution. Highlighting the unique nature...
The Council of Christian Colleges and Universities Series
Stressing the biblical message of stewardship, biologist Richard T. Wright celebrates the study of God's creation and examines the interaction of the life sciences with society in medicine, genetics, and the environment. The author brings a biblical perspective to theories on origins, contrasting creationism, intelligent design, and evolution. Highlighting the unique nature of biology and its interaction with Christian thought, Wright demonstrates that Christian stewardship can be the key to a sustainable future.
This comprehensive work, one of a series cosponsored by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, addresses the needs of the Christian student of biology to align science and faith. It demonstrates that the study of biology penetrates to the core of human existence and has much to contribute to the construction of a consistent Christian worldview.
You know, our fathers had plenty of deer and skins, our plains were full of deer, as also our woods, and of turkies, and our coves full of fish and fowl. But these English having gotten our land, they with scythes cut down the grass, and with axes fell the trees; their cows and horses eat the grass, and their hogs spoil our clam banks, and we shall all be starved.
Miantonomo, sachem of the Narragansett Indians, 1642
A Meadowlark's Call
Joel Cooper was probably about sixteen when I met him; he seemed old and wise to my ten-year-old eyes. My family was spending three months in St. Petersburg, Florida, with my grandparents, while waiting for people to move out of a house we had purchased in New Jersey. Joel lived three houses down the street, and he was crippled -- probably a victim of polio.
But Joel Cooper knew how to catch anoles (we called them chameleons) and striped skinks (another kind of lizard), and he knew where the cardinals nested and he had squirrels that would eat out of his hand. Joel showed me how to find the two owls -- a screech owl and a barred owl -- that roosted in the shelter of the Spanish moss that decorated a huge old live oak in his yard. I thought I was in paradise. School was something to endure. My life began at 2:30 in the afternoon, when I could explore Joel's world with him -- the world of overgrown shrubbery and vines and citrus trees that sprawled behind his house.
For the first time in my life, I was seeing insects andlizards and snakes and birds, and I was amazed by what I saw. There was a world to be discovered out there, and Joel helped to peel the scales from my eyes so that I could -- for hours on end -- wander the orchards and palmettos and ponds and look for new things. My mother bought me the green and yellow and blue books of birds, and I began to sketch them from the pictures, wondering if I would ever get to see so many birds.
For some reason, I was particularly captivated by the picture of a meadowlark -- a medium-sized bird with a brown back, and a black bib across a brilliant yellow breast. One day my family and I went to a potluck dinner following morning church. Naturally, being ten years old, I slipped away from the proceedings to see what I could find outside. Off in the distance I heard a clear and loud two-syllable bird song. Using all the stealth I could muster, I approached the source of the song, coming closer and closer and still seeing nothing. I was lying in the grass when a bird moved into a little sandy patch about ten feet away. To my great wonder and delight, it had a black bib across a bright yellow breast and sang the song I had been hearing -- a meadowlark!
The memory of that instant has a permanent place in my mind's picture gallery. Since then, many other pictures have been hung there -- a peregrine falcon darting into a flock of shorebirds, a European ruff appearing in a little pond in south Jersey, an immense flock of sandhill cranes soaring overhead in an Indiana state park, to name only a few. But that first picture of a meadowlark remains as a symbol of the joy and amazement that came when a new world began to be opened up to me. I hope that I told Joel about the meadowlark, it would have made him happy.
The Study of Biology
There is much more to biology than watching birds, of course. Yet I wish that everyone who takes a course in biology would get to see their equivalent of my first meadowlark -- something from the living world that simply captures the imagination in such a way that there is no turning back. From that point on, whether as an object of study or of simple observation, the living world opens up an unending array of complexity and the unknown, and the observer is transformed. Biology -- better yet, the living world -- has the capacity to amaze and delight, and to some it calls for a deep and possibly lifetime commitment.
As a former student and a teacher, I am aware of the frustration of having to study the world of biology as it is presented from the captivity of a course in college. If you are like many college students, a course in biology represents your only and last college contact with science as a system of knowledge. If someone asks you ten years from now what you remember from your biology course, your answer may be some unpleasant recollection of the laboratory, or at best an impression of how excited your professor was about the subject. Yet during that ten years, your life will certainly be profoundly affected by issues and realities of the living world.
How will this living world affect you? As a start, remember that you are a living organism. Your food, the very air you breathe, the water you drink, your wastes, your sexuality and reproductive activities, your sicknesses, the deaths of friends and relatives -- these are reminders of your basic biological dependencies. Then consider that you are part of the largest human population ever to inhabit the earth, with an impact that far surpasses that of any previous human population or any other biological species. Your environment -- not the city or town, highway or airport, but the living fabric -- will be showing greater signs of stress than ever before because of human impacts on it. Then there is the world of ideas, opinions, and more important, faith. How should we help whole nations that are caught in a downward spiral of population growth and poverty and hunger? Shall our legal options include the right to abortion? Where, after...Biology Through the Eyes of Faith. Copyright © by Richard T. Wright. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.