Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

About Barbara Darling-Smith

Barbara Darling-Smith is assistant professor of religion.

…Community defines, sustains, inspires us

believe in community. I believe that we are created for community and that our many communities make us who we are—our families, neighborhoods, religious communities, educational communities—like this one!—our society.

Believing in community means to me being aware of and grateful for, and participating enthusiastically in, connections with other members of the community. I believe that life is richer and fuller when we care about others and allow them to care about us.

Certainly our lives are enhanced and enriched by our communities, but I mean more than that. I believe that—whether or not we appreciate them, whether or not we even acknowledge them—we would not be who we are if it had not been for the communities that shape us and sustain us. Certainly there is a place for individual initiative and creativity and genius. But every individual insight, invention, contribution stands on the shoulders of the community in which the individual is situated.

Beyond our human communities, I also believe that we are who we are because of the more-than-human community—nature. We are a part of nature but only a small part. The sun provides the right temperatures for our food to grow, and rainfall nourishes our food as well. The trees give us oxygen to breathe. We take our drinking water from rivers and lakes.

But it’s not only humans who depend on the sun and rain, the trees and rivers and lakes, and stardust. We share this planet with a plethora of other species, some like us and some very unlike us. Each one of them has evolved to depend on this earth for life and to enrich the diversity of life forms on the planet, just as the human species has.

I believe that God created all humans and loves all humans, and that God created all other species and loves all other species of plants and animals, as well.

I find no conflict between my belief in a Creator God and accepting the truth of selective adaptation and the evolution of species. I believe that this planet came into existence and then when life developed on this Earth it was small life forms; these grew and transformed over billions of years into ever greater diversity: fish to amphibians to reptiles, birds, mammals.

Barbara Darling-SmithBut whether anyone accepts creationism or evolution or both (as I accept both), I believe that every single one of us humans has the responsibility to take care of this Earth. I believe that the soil, the air, the water are precious. Other species are precious. All of these deserve our respect and our reverence.