Scientists, like theologians, seek to learn how the universe works. Scientists use the scientific method, while theologians work from a combined treasure of revealed truths, human experience and natural laws.

The scientific method involves making a reasonable guess about a natural phenomenon, testing it, putting the hypothesis out in the scientific community and then defending it as other scientists do their best to prove it wrong.

Other scientists don’t simply say the new idea is dumb. They collect data, duplicate the testing, and run other experiments — all attemps to prove the hypothesis is erroneous or to show that other hypotheses explain the phenomenon equally well.

Theology and science can work together. This partnership is totally different from the flawed practice in which we all sometimes indulge, making internet searches for “proof” of what we already think. That’s fun but it’s neither science nor theology.

The Vatican, in contrast, is not speaking from mere opinion or wishful thinking about climate change, which is, along with nuclear war, the most dangerous threat of our time.

Within a context of faith, the Vatican has consulted with leading scientists who have done decades of research.

Pope Francis is pleading with humanity to stop fighting and begin acting on what has now become far more than a mere guess that the planet is heating because of greenhouse gases and that humans are responsible. The data is now incontrovertible.

“We are reaching a breaking point,” he said in July.

In 2020, his warning was even more stark: “God forgives always; we men forgive sometimes; the earth never forgives. If we have despoiled the earth, the response will be very bad.”

We have faith that God’s love for us would survive such a disaster. But just as God doesn’t protect us individually from our bad choices, it’s folly to suggest God would protect humanity from the fallout of our collective bad choices.

It’s time for our faith and our scientific cleverness to come together and act to save the world.