The Linked Parishes of  Pope John XXIII  &  Christ The King

2020-21 Faith Formation Program

Grades 6-8

Session 8 - Care For God's Creation

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Star Cluster

In the beginning

No doubt, you are familiar with the story of creation in the book of Genesis, the first book of the bible.  It is filled with a lot of imagery and symbolisms that point to deeper meanings and insights.  It was a way that the ancient Hebrews, who had  little scientific knowledge, explained how the world, and humanity came into existence.

At first glance, the creation story just does not seem to add up or agree with the modern scientific theories of THE BIG BANG, and EVOLUTION, which we will get into later in this lesson. 

 

But first, let’s go over the key points of the creation story, as presented in Genesis.

“I believe in God, the father almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth."

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The most important point of the Genesis Creation Story is that God is the originator of all that exists.  God willed everything into being.  In fact, the very first sentence of the CREED (lesson 1) states:

“I BELIEVE IN GOD, THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.”  

So our faith takes very seriously that God has his creative hand in both the physical world and the spiritual world.   Notice too, that this declaration of our belief does not state that this creative force remains in the past.  God is continually creating, and through millions- billions of years His creation has gone through drastic changes; it is not stagnant, but constantly moving in different directions.

The book of Genesis was written about 2700 years ago, around the time when the ancient people of Judah were under Babylonian control.  The ancient authors could not have imagined that before 13.8 billion years ago, our universe was basically a vast void.  They could only understand what they could experience- night, day; sun, moon and stars; all plant life and animals.  The idea of time was limited also by their  immediate experiences and the stories that were handed down. 

Camel in Desert
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Today, through very sophisticated calculations, and observations scientists believe that everything that exists began when a very small, highly condensed particle called a singularity, exploded.   And what an explosion it was! 

 

This particle was incredibly hot.  Once the explosion occurred individual, nonspecific energy particles mixed with light, formed.  Once these particles were released they expanded into the void of space where they cooled down.  It took millions of years, but particles came together forming atoms, and these atoms eventually came together forming elements and compounds and then stars and galaxies, and in time, planets.   The stars, galaxies and solar systems in our universe are continuing to expand, and evolve and there is no end in sight! 

 

 Soooo…… everything that exists in the material world started from a single particle and a REALLY BIG BANG!

BUT…………

WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE SINGULARITY PARTICLE?

THINK ABOUT IT!!!

A QUICK LESSON ON THE FORMATION OF THE EARTH

STAGES OF LIFE ON EARTH

How do these two videos compare with the Creation Narratives in Genesis?

What is obvious at first glance is that the narratives in Genesis are an over simplification of the development of the universe, planet Earth and life on Earth.  It was never meant to be a scientific document.  However, look again. 

 

The narratives in Genesis recognize that there must have been distinct stages in the creation of the Universe, planet Earth and life on Earth.  There are also some sequences of events in this creation that are in agreement and not in agreement with science.

What areas can you find agreement between science & Genesis story?

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for Answers

The earth originally was barren

Waters first appeared

Continents formed

Plants appeared

Life in the oceans appeared

Birds appeared

Mammals appeared

Man appeared

What areas are there disagreement between science & Genesis story?

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for Answers

The sky is not a physical dome that contains water and releases it through “doors”.

The sun and moon appeared during the formation of the solar system, not after the earth was formed.

Did you know that the Catholic Church embraces science? 

 

The Catholic Church is often portrayed as being anti-education, anti-reason, and anti-science.

SCIENCE, like religion is nothing more than the pursuit of truth.  Through science, we come to know about the details of God’s creation, right down to the atomic level.

THERE ARE MANY CATHOLIC SCIENTISTS

 

There are many famous Catholic priests, religious*,and lay* scientists that have been credited with the advancement in many areas of scientific knowledge.  In fact, the Vatican has its own astronomical observatories - one outside Rome, Italy and the other in Arizona.

* Religious - people who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and who live according to a distinctive rule with others

* Lay - non clergy or Part of a religious order

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Jesuit Father Gabriele Gionti, an astronomer, at the Vatican observatory at the papal villa at Castel Gandolfo, Italy

There are literally thousands of  Catholic scientists who are famous for their research and discoveries.

Here are a few you may have heard of...

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Father George Lemaitre

Belgian Catholic Priest, Mathematician, Astronomer, Professor of Physics

Formulated the BIG BANG THEORY

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Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

French Jesuit Priest, Scientist, Paleontologist, Theologian, Philosopher and teacher

Worked to understand evolution and faith and supported the theory of evolution

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Louis Pasteur

French Chemist and Microbiologist

Credited with discoveries that established the foundations which led to the development of vaccines. 

We profess in the Creed that God is the creator and ultimate source of everything that exists.  Therefore, everything is of God and God is a part of His creation. 

 

This makes everything HOLY! 

 

However, this does not mean that humanity is not a part of this creative process, for in Genesis 1, vs. 27 it states:

 

“God created man in His image, in the divine image He created him.”

 

We are able to make choices, and we are able to imagine, analyze, and create. This is a great responsibility, and this responsibility means that we must respect all of God’s creation.

Teenagers in Nature

So what does this mean for us today?

Hiking in Nature

How do we show respect for God’s creation?

    First of all we must recognize that God is the source for everything.  We are only temporary stewards, meaning that we are this planet's, and each other’s, caretakers for a relatively short period of time. 

 

Everyday, as we go about our lives, our attitudes and decisions do impact the world around us, hopefully for the better, but sometimes not. 

 

Are you a person of gratitude for what you have? 

Do you take care of your possessions?

Are you using your abilities and talents to the fullest?

How do you view the earth’s resources?

How do you treat others?

Only you can answer these questions.

WE are the summit of God’s creation.

 

Today, much too frequently, the very sanctity of human life is disregarded.  This can take many forms including degrading another person, undermining their reputation by spreading rumors, physically and/or emotionally hurting another.  These actions can leave lifelong scars. 

 

Even more disturbing is the rise in violence in this country, and around the world.  The disregard for the dignity and value of the unborn, making them the victims of “choice” so that their life can be legally eliminated is extremely appalling.   This disregard for the unborn has translated into the lack of respect for the disabled, the elderly, and those who are considered outcastes. 

Woman on Window Sill
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LOVE

 

The very birth of Jesus meant that God fully entered the world that He created.  It was a pure act of LOVE!   This meant that God could interact with His creation on a level that we humans could understand.  It transformed creation because the CREATOR and the creation could intimately behold one another.   

 

LOVE is the creative force for everything.  It is LOVE that unites us to the CREATOR!   Jesus emphasized this when He said, Luke 10 vs. 27:

 

“ You shall LOVE the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

 

  LOVING GOD the Creator means that we also LOVE  His creation by not abusing, wasting, degrading,  and/or destroying any of it!