Institute of Religion in an Age of Science ( Workshop, July 24 - 31, 2004



Paul H. Carr,

"Water indeed reflects heaven because my mind does - such is its serenity- its transparency-stillness..." Thoreau

We will explore ways in which water's sacramental power can inspire us to meet the challenge of global warming and flooding. I will illustrate the symbolic meaning and sacred power that Thoreau's "Walden." attributed to water with photographs of beautiful Walden Pond. The Glaciers are retreating. Average temperatures in the arctic have climbed as much as 7 degrees F. In the past century, sea levels have increased by 40 cm and shorelines shrunk by 20 m. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the past 50 years is due to human activities." Carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere have increased 10% in the last 30 years from the burning of fossil fuels. We can reduce these emissions by using passive and active solar energy for heating and by generating electricity with windmills, semiconducting solar cells, hydropower, and nuclear energy. This will also decrease our dependence on imported fossil fuels and protect us from the price increases resulting from the depletion of this nonrenewable resource. The consecration of Walden Pond as a natural and cultural shrine is an example of progress towards environmental challenges. Hopefully, water's sacramental power can cleanse us from the unintended consequences of our past and empower us to sacrifice for the good of creation and for future generations.


Paul H. Carr has presented workshops at Star Island since 1998 and has taught a philosophy course "Science and Religion: Cosmos to Consciousness" at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He organized the Science and Religion Session of the International Paul Tillich Society Conference in New Harmony, IN, as well as presenting the paper "Science and Religion: Original Unity and the Courage to Create," published in the June 2001 issue of ZYGON. He presented the paper "Technology Touches Theology and Visa Versa" at the ESSSAT Conference in Barcelona, Spain in April 2004. In his former life, he led the Component Technology Branch of the Air Force Research Laboratory, which did research and development on microwave ultrasound, surface acoustic waves, superconductors, and laser activated antennas. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from Brandeis University and his M. S. and B. S. from MIT. In 2003, he moved from Bedford, MA to Bedford, NH to marry Virginia Kilpack.

TIME: One hour

REQUIREMENT: Overhead VuGraph Projector