CNN Environment News

Unlikely duo uniting to save the planet


April 21, 1996
Web posted at: 11:15 p.m. EDT

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A seemingly unlikely alliance of religious and scientific groups has been formed for a common cause -- to protect the environment.

They are the odd couple at a growing number of save-the- planet meetings.

"They don't have to agree on how and why the Earth was created in order to work together to cherish and protect it," said Paul Gorman of the National Religious Partnership on the Environment.

Gorman quote

The Union of Concerned Scientists put together a videotape to encourage joint efforts with religion. The tape includes the biblical account that God created the Earth.

blessed elephant

To demonstrate even further the ties between nature and religion, the videotape shows the blessing of an elephant and a procession of animals at a New York church.

"The common ground between science and religion is that this is a moral enterprise...caring for the earth," said Rev. Drew Christiansen of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.

At a Catholic high school in Bladensburg, Maryland, science teachers are using the connection between religion and nature in the curriculum.

Students are learning about their environment by caring for a nearby nature trail.

nun and children

"It has to be both of them... the drive and the energy and the passion of religion, as well as the scientific aspects and the knowledge of science," said Sister Mary Jo Stein of St. Elizabeth's Seton Catholic High School.

For the class, religion and the environment go hand in hand.

"I feel like God gave us this gift, so it's our job to protect it," said Dione Washington, a student. (65K AIFF sound or 65K WAV sound)

But there is a limit on how far religion and science can agree.

"I don't think we're going to resolve all disagreements overnight," said Rabbi Ismar Schorsch of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

"But even the silly notion that creationism is equivalent to scientific theory has a kernel of value and that is that creationism does stress the ultimate unity of all existence," Schorsch said.

While it is too soon to tell whether science and religion can work together, many in both groups share a common belief that the environment is threatened and people of all kinds must try to save it.

From Correspondent Anthony Collings

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