By: Br. Kevin Cawley
Science is God's great gift to the human race because it allows us to better wonder at the awe of creation, and to better understand our collective vocation as its protector and steward. As Benedict XVI reminded us again and again, “science is faith's great sister” because it reminds us that faith must always be rational. Faith presupposes doubt because it says there is so much unknown. Science is the means to study and understand that doubt. A rational faith can transform the human race.
Sr. Kathleen Deignan
, professor of Religious Studies at Iona College and convener of the Berry Forum, headed the Iona delegation along with Br. Kevin Cawley
, Edmund Rice International (ERI) main representative to the United Nations in New York and executive director of the Berry Forum. They walked with thousands of fellow concerned citizens to advocate for sensible science in support of public policy at the March for Science in New York City on April 22, 2017. Participants convened on Central Park West near 71st St. in a misting rain around 11:30 a.m., and proceeded down Central Park West toward Broadway for 20 blocks before dispersing in Times Square around 2 p.m. The mood was a generous mix of determined souls adamant about the current dismissal of the science of global warming on display at the White House in Washington and various federal agencies. The atmosphere was enthusiastic and playful, no matter the rain and the topic.
Many of the signs and costumes of the marchers had humorous touches despite the serious matter that provoked the occasion. Many messages at the New York rally took on a political hue. One demonstrator carried a sign with a diagram. “Before you dismiss science, Mr. President,” it said, “here is the molecular formula for hair spray.” Another said, “Fund science, not walls.” Loud booing ensued as the various contingents passed by Trump World Tower at Columbus Circle. A number of Trump impersonators appeared from time to time along the route to draw the ire of the participants. Chants began and died out at several points. Many young children accompanied their parents; some riding on shoulders, some riding in strollers, and some on skateboards of various colors. Pets were also decorated with signs and slogans for the day. Large numbers of police officers deployed for protection of the marches and spectators appeared to have little to do except give directions and move the barricades as the line of march advanced southward down Broadway. A congenial atmosphere prevailed throughout.
A large march took place in Washington, D.C., at the same time as the New York march. The demonstration in Washington – which started with teach-ins and a rally that packed the National Mall – was echoed by protests in hundreds of cities across the United States and around the world
, including marches in Europe and Asia. As the marchers trekked shoulder-to-shoulder toward the Capitol, the street echoed with their calls: “Save the EPA” and “Save the NIH,” as well as their chants celebrating science, “Who run the world? Nerds,” and “If you like beer, thank yeast and scientists!” Some carried signs that showed rising oceans and polar bears in peril, and faces of famous scientists like Mae Jamison, Rosalind Franklin and Marie Curie, and others touted a checklist of the diseases Americans no longer get thanks to vaccines.
Scientists who have been on the front lines of essential research for many years now see disheartening and dangerous ignorance of many administrators at the highest levels of U.S. federal agencies. This disturbing phenomenon is revealed in their public statements, their apparent lack of basic curiosity, and their subsequently short-sighted policy reversals on public health and safety issues. Organizers said they hoped the day’s demonstrations result in sustained, coordinated action aimed at persuading elected officials to adopt policies consistent with the scientific consensus on climate change, vaccines and other issues. We are reminded that Annie Dillard has written: “My God, what a world. There is no accounting for one second of it.”
Notes: Br. Kevin Cawley with Washington material by Nicholas St. Fleur (NYT) and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.