Over-to-you BBC Radio Humberside Tuesday 7th April
Yesterday, high above us in space, the European Goce Satellite switched on super-sensitive instruments which will make ultra-fine measurements of the Earth’s gravity. The purpose of the Goce mission is to study the oceans – to understand better how gravity pulls water and heat around the globe and thus improve our understanding of climate change. The satellite is an amazing feat of science, technology and engineering which will enable us to understand more about earth our home and the gravity which keeps us on it.
It was a tragic irony that on the day on which these super-sensitive instruments were switched on, miles below the residents in and around L’Aquila in Italy were woken by the devastating effect of our globe’s most destructive force. The tectonic plates, which relentlessly grind together around Italy, moved suddenly causing an earthquake which brought devastation and destruction to the town and the power of gravity wreaked death and injury to the citizens of that region as buildings and infrastructure collapsed around them.
Our hearts go out to those who are caught up in this devastation – the bereaved, the injured and the homeless and we wrap them in our prayers along with those who continue to search for signs of life amidst the rubble and recover the victims of this natural disaster.
Science enables us to understand more and more about our planet and the life it sustains, with projects such as the Goce satellite extending that knowledge. Already there are questions about why the scientists were not able to give any warning of this impending disaster as the energy built up under the epicentre of this earthquake. Yet in the end we live on a living planet with the movement of the continental plates being part of the 4.5 billion year history of our world. The victims of yesterday’s earthquake are tragic victims of this reality.
There are ever those who want to drive a wedge between science and religion. Artificially introducing conflict where there is none. Science gives us an understanding of how this world works and how life is sustained; religion gives us an insight into the human dynamics of life, the purpose of life and the preciousness of each and every life. As we wrap the victims of yesterday’s earthquake in our prayers we can do something which science can never offer, nor should it, we can for a moment become involved in their suffering and grief – we can’t change it, nor can we remove it – but in our prayers we avoid being indifferent to their plight – in prayer we are drawn into it. That’s what makes us human and God makes possible – an ability to relate to each other in a way that science can never measure, no matter how super-sensitive its instruments may become.