Evolutionary Thinking

February 28th, 2018 by Dave Leave a reply »

Evolutionary Thinking
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The debate about evolution took center stage in the United States during the famous 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial (The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes). With typical dualistic thinking, science was simplistically pitted against religion, and people took one side or the other, with little clarification of terms, meaning, or purpose.
The Scopes Monkey Trial might symbolize the beginning of the culture wars we still suffer today, with naïve presentations of two seeming opposite positions—neither well-defined, but simply providing banners and loyalty tests for both groups. In my parents’ generation, when many people often had fewer years of formal education, this false dilemma was commonly presented as, “Did we come from monkeys or did God create us?” Good Christians righteously shouted “God!” thinking God needed their support, and scientific-minded people who had a bone to pick with religion shouted “Monkeys!” What a waste of good minds and hearts!
In 1925, there was little knowledge of contemplation and few were teaching or exemplifying non-dual thinking in Western Christianity (though Native Americans, Buddhists, and other traditions were well acquainted with it). We missed out on what could have been decades of fruitful discussion and enlightenment. We had all been trained to argue and prove ourselves right—both believers and scientists—rather than to dialogue with and truly understand each other. For most of the last century, in many Christian circles, the very term evolution was a code word used to expose and condemn enemies and infidels. It was a false test-case.
A little calm, clear, and biblical thinking could have come up with a third response beyond the two false “alternatives.” What if God creates things that continue to create themselves? That seems like Divine Imagination to me! In such a paradigm, God “turns everything to good by working together with all things. . . . The ones God chose so long ago, which God intended to become true images of God’s Son” (Romans 8:28-29).
Contemplative practice allows us to be content and even happy without fully resolving a seeming problem. It allows us to tolerate ambiguity and mystery. How else can we ever know God? Contemplative practice allows something much better and more healing for all concerned. We can learn how to hold a creative tension as we patiently wait for more insight, compassion, scholarship, and a larger or different frame for the question. The contemplative person can observe and love with their mind, heart, and body at the same time. The reduction to purely rational knowing didn’t begin until the seventeenth century. Now science can observe neural activity, revealing that there is a “heart mind” and a “body mind.” [1]
Evolutionary thinking is actually contemplative thinking because it leaves the full field of the future in God’s hands and agrees to humbly hold the present with its current, tentative knowledge. Evolutionary thinking agrees to both knowing and not knowing, at the same time.
Evolutionary thinking sends us on a trajectory, where the ride is itself the destination, and the goal is never clearly in sight. To stay on the ride, to trust the trajectory, to know it is moving somewhere better is just another way to describe the biblical notion of faith. This is the best and truest way to think.

Gateway to Presence:
If you want to go deeper with today’s meditation, take note of what word or phrase stands out to you. Come back to that word or phrase throughout the day, being present to its impact and invitation.

“Do You Now Believe?” By Oswald Chambers

“By this we believe….” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?” —John 16:30-31

“Now we believe….” But Jesus asks, “Do you…? Indeed the hour is coming…that you…will leave Me alone” (John 16:31-32). Many Christian workers have left Jesus Christ alone and yet tried to serve Him out of a sense of duty, or because they sense a need as a result of their own discernment. The reason for this is actually the absence of the resurrection life of Jesus. Our soul has gotten out of intimate contact with God by leaning on our own religious understanding (see Proverbs 3:5-6). This is not deliberate sin and there is no punishment attached to it. But once a person realizes how he has hindered his understanding of Jesus Christ, and caused uncertainties, sorrows, and difficulties for himself, it is with shame and remorse that he has to return.
We need to rely on the resurrection life of Jesus on a much deeper level than we do now. We should get in the habit of continually seeking His counsel on everything, instead of making our own commonsense decisions and then asking Him to bless them. He cannot bless them; it is not in His realm to do so, and those decisions are severed from reality. If we do something simply out of a sense of duty, we are trying to live up to a standard that competes with Jesus Christ. We become a prideful, arrogant person, thinking we know what to do in every situation. We have put our sense of duty on the throne of our life, instead of enthroning the resurrection life of Jesus. We are not told to “walk in the light” of our conscience or in the light of a sense of duty, but to “walk in the light as He is in the light…” (1 John 1:7). When we do something out of a sense of duty, it is easy to explain the reasons for our actions to others. But when we do something out of obedience to the Lord, there can be no other explanation— just obedience. That is why a saint can be so easily ridiculed and misunderstood.


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