Christ in Evolution

March 11th, 2019 by Dave Leave a reply »

Unfolding Creation
Sunday, March 10, 2019

God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. “Now I am making the whole of creation new, . . . It is already done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” —Revelation 21:4-6, Jerusalem Bible

Contrast this passage (repeated in Revelation 22:13) from the very end of the Bible with Christianity’s recent notions of Armageddon, Apocalypse, or Rapture. God keeps creation both good and new—which means always going somewhere even better or, in a word, evolving. God keeps creating things from the inside out, so they are forever yearning, developing, growing, and changing. This is the generative force implanted in all living things, which grows things both from within—because they are programmed for it—and from without—as they take in light, nutrition, and water.

If we see the Eternal Christ Mystery as the symbolic Alpha Point for the beginning of “time,” we can see that history and evolution indeed have an intelligence, a plan, and a trajectory from the very start. The Risen Christ, who appears in the middle of history, assures us that, all crucifixions to the contrary, God is leading us somewhere positive. God has been leading us since the beginning of time and even includes us in the process of unfolding (Romans 8:28-30). We are invited to be a “New Humanity” (Ephesians 2:15b). Christ is both the Divine Radiance at the beginning and the Divine Allure drawing and attracting us into a more positive future. We are thus bookended in a Personal Love—coming from Love and moving toward an ever more inclusive Love. The Book of Revelation brilliantly names this “Alpha” (first letter of the Greek alphabet) and Omega (last letter).

Maybe you personally do not feel a need for creation to have any form, direction, or purpose. After all, many scientists do not seem to ask such ultimate questions. Evolutionists observe the evidence and the data and say the universe is clearly unfolding and still expanding at ever faster rates, although they do not know the final goal of this expansion. But Christians should believe that the overarching vision does have a shape and meaning—which is revealed from its inception as “good, good, good, good, good” and even “very good” (Genesis 1:10-31). How did we ever get from that to any notion of “total depravity”? The biblical symbol of the Universal and Eternal Christ, standing at both ends of cosmic time, was intended to assure us that the clear and full trajectory of the world we know is an unfolding of consciousness with “all creation groaning in this one great act of giving birth” (Romans 8:22).

As Christian philosopher Beatrice Bruteau (1930–2014) put it:

The conclusion seems to be that to share in the divine life I must accept the vocation of consciously living in this self-creating universe. . . . [This] means that I need to know something about the whole thing, how it works, how it’s moving, how to take my place in it, make my meaningful contribution to this general improvisation.

Joining in [God’s] creative work is really central to the whole contemplative enterprise. Cosmogenesis—the generation of the cosmos—can be seen, as Teilhard de Chardin saw it, as “Christogenesis,” the growth of the “ever greater Christ.” This Christ has been “growing in stature and wisdom” (Luke 2:52; read “complexity and consciousness”) these last dozen or so billion years and is nowhere near finished yet. [1]

The Pattern of Evolution
Monday, March 11, 2019

Perhaps the reason it is so hard for us to see the evolution of the Cosmic Christ in our individual lives and in the arc of history is that this groaning and this giving birth (see Romans 8:22) proceeds by a process of losses and gains, and the losses are very real. There is no doubt that history goes three steps forward and two steps backward, but thank God there seems to be a net gain. We may be more aware of war, racism, classism, genocide, and ignorance around the world today, yet violence is actually declining. [1]

When a new level of maturity is found, there is an immediate and strong instinct to pull backward to the old and familiar. This is even included in the Biblical text, which is crucially important to understand. Thankfully, there is always a leaven, a critical mass, a few people who carry the momentum toward healing and wholeness. This is the Second Coming of Christ: Christ embodied by people who can no longer live fearfully, hatefully, or violently. There are always some who have been transformed by Love, by the Christ Mystery. This is the corporate shape of “salvation.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) wrote: “Everything that rises must converge.” [2] In other words, evolution moves toward unity. Along the way there will be differentiation and complexity, but paradoxically, that increased complexity moves life to a greater level of unity at a higher level, until in the end there is only God who is “all in all” (see 1 Corinthians 15:28).

With greater differentiation and complexity there will also be pushback, fear, and confusion. We see this in our current political climate in the United States and much of the world. It mirrors Newton’s Third Law of Motion that “every action elicits an equal and opposite reaction.” Today many people are reverting to nationalistic thinking, denial of climate change, the stoking of fear and hatred, rather than imagining solutions to very real issues of poverty, immigration, injustice, and other forms of suffering.

What can we do in the face of resistance? I believe contemplation or nondual consciousness can help us approach change with creativity, openness, and courage. Thomas Berry (1914–2009), a Catholic priest and eco-theologian, envisioned our species coming together around a shared story of the universe. While he knew the transition would be challenging, Berry held out hope:

. . . [T]he basic mood of the future might well be one of confidence in the continuing revelation that takes place in and through the earth. If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture. [3]


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