September 2nd, 2019 by Dave Leave a reply »

Cosmology: Part Two

Participating in God
Sunday, September 1, 2019

From the beginning until now, the entire creation as we know it has been groaning in one great act of giving birth. —Romans 8:22

Just this one line from Paul should be enough to justify evolution. God creates things that create themselves! Wouldn’t this be the greatest way that God could create—to give autonomy, freedom, and grace to keep self-creating even further? Healthy parents love their children so much that they want them to keep growing to their highest potential, even surpassing their parents. As Jesus said to his disciples, “Don’t get too excited about the things that I did. You’re going to do even greater things!” (John 14:12).

For a long time, many people were satisfied with a very static universe. But now we clearly see the universe is unfolding and expanding. It’s moving until, as Augustine (354–430) put it, “In the end there will only be Christ loving himself,” [1] or as Paul wrote, “There is only Christ, he is everything and he is in everything” (Colossians 3:11). Paul saw history as an ongoing process of ever greater inclusion of every lesser force until in the end, “God will be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28). Christ is the Christian word for the One reality that includes everything and excludes nothing.

Franciscan scientist Sr. Ilia Delio writes about this cosmology as participatory movement:

Evolution impels us to think of God as drawing the world from up ahead, attracting it into a new future. Process theology maintains that God is neither simply an impersonal order nor simply the individual person who creates the universe. Rather, God and world are in process together; the world continually participates in God and God in the world. God, who is the primordial ground of order, embodies within Godself the order of possibilities, the potential forms of relationship that are not chaotic but orderly even before they are actualized. Nothing less than a transcendent force, radically distinct from matter but also incarnate in it, could ultimately explain evolution. . . . God is distinct from the world yet essential to it, just as the world is essential to God. Apart from God there would be nothing new in the world and no order in the world. God influences the world without determining it. This influence is the lure of ideals to be actualized, the persuasive vision of the good; it contributes to the self creation of each entity. . . .

Evolution brings with it the rise of consciousness, and as consciousness rises, so too does awareness of God. The human person is created to see God in every aspect of life, charged with divine energy, and to love what he or she sees. In this respect scripture is written daily in the supermarkets, nursing homes, playgrounds, post offices, cafes, bars, and in the scripts of home and community life. God is not hovering over us; God is the amazing depth, breadth, imagination, and creativity in culture, art, music, poetry, science, literature, film, gyms, and parks—all in some way speak the word of God. Every place is the place to find God, and God is in everything. [2]

A New Consciousness
Monday, September 2, 2019

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, full of grace and truth. . . . From his fullness, we have all received, grace upon grace. —John 1:1-3, 14, 16

God’s plan and presence—the Christ—has been with us since the beginning of the universe. In Jesus, the blueprint materialized and became visible, showing us the way toward wholeness. The Greek word John uses for “fullness” is pleroma. Paul uses the very same word in several places and clearly teaches that “You have a share in this fullness” (Colossians 2:9) and even “You are filled with the utter fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Talk about inherent dignity and empowerment! 

Ilia Delio continues reflecting on what this means for us and maturing Christianity:

Evolution invites us to expand our consciousness of the divine mystery beyond the realm of human history and to see humankind [and all of creation] within the process of an evolving cosmic history. We come from the whole and belong to the whole. As church, as theologians, as citizens of the universe, therefore, we need an “option for whole,” and by this I mean we need a new consciousness that includes our Big Bang expanding universe and biological evolution as part of our intellectual search for truth. Theology must begin with evolution if it is to talk of a living God, and hence it must include physical, spiritual, and psychological change as fundamental to reality. Einstein’s discovery of relativity means that space-time is a dimension of the unfinished, expanding universe; thus, whatever we say about God is bound up with the universe. By extending the knowing process into the furthest realms of cosmic relatedness, being acquires new depth. Knowledge cannot be satisfied with human history alone; it must reach into cosmic history, if it is in search of truth. To see evolution as revelatory of the divine Word means that we come to see the various forms and rhythms of nature as reflective of divine qualities. This means moving beyond the static images of God that are so familiar to us and that remain irretrievably tied to an archaic understanding of the cosmos. We are invited, through modern science, to widen our theological vision, to awaken to a dynamic cosmos in which we are deeply related, and to seek the divine Word expressing itself in the rich fecundity of cosmic life.

Summary: Week Thirty-fiveAugust 25 – August 30, 2019

Summary: Week Thirty-five

Religious thinkers . . . are searching for a new synthesis of science and faith, a new cosmology, and a “new story.” —Denis Edwards (Sunday)

Now that we are coming to understand the magnificent nature of the cosmos, we’re finding that many of the intuitions of mystics of all religions are paralleled by scientific theories and explanations. (Monday)

Indigenous societies include science and theology and all other aspects of their culture as a part of their ordinary discourse, for the sciences have never been alienated from daily life. —Barbara Holmes (Tuesday)

If string theory is right, the microscopic fabric of our universe is a richly intertwined multidimensional labyrinth within which the strings of the universe endlessly twist and vibrate, rhythmically beating out the lawns of the cosmos. —Brian Greene (Wednesday)

In North America, cosmology played an important part in slave escapes to freedom. They knew that freedom was north and they knew that the North Star (Polaris) could guide their feet. —Barbara Holmes (Thursday)

My heart tells me that the new physics is not new at all, but simply expresses in yet another way the fundamental truth that underpins creation. —Judy Cannato (Friday)

Practice: Contemplating the Cosmos

Bible scholar J. B. Phillips wrote a book many years ago entitled Your God Is Too Small. I believe that many of the world’s religious, political, and cultural divisions happen because our view is too narrow. For Christians, it’s important to realize that Christ is so much bigger and more inclusive than we’ve envisioned. Christ is universal and beyond time, indwelling all creation, anointing all matter with Spirit. Because of this, Christ’s people aren’t just Christians or some select group. Christ is too big to be encompassed or enclosed by any organization. If there’s going to be any hope for this world, we’ve got to start seeing God and Christ on this much bigger scale.

Too many Christians think that God only started interacting with humans 6,000 years ago. That’s unthinkable to me! Creation has existed for billions of years. My Franciscan tradition says that creation was the first Bible. Everything we need to know about God was revealed in creation from the beginning: “For in Christ all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him. Christ is before all things, and in Christ all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).

For today’s practice I invite you to meditate on our unfathomably vast, primordial, and complex cosmos. Set aside an hour to watch beautiful images caught by the Hubble Telescope and learn about our “Universe in Motion.”

Exploring the universe inspires us to consider—a word whose Latin roots cum (with) and sidera (stars) literally mean with the stars—a theology of cosmic praxis. Theologian Denis Edwards writes:

The concept of praxis . . . refers to our participation in the shaping of the world in which we live. It is based upon the idea that we are meant to make a difference. We are called to be contributors, people of reflection and action. . . . This is our common human task. It is our call to be participators in God’s continuous creation. [1]

After considering the remarkable vision of a dynamic universe, read aloud the following litany. 

God, You work . . .

in the accelerating expansion of the universe
in the spiraling of galaxies
in the explosion of supernovas
in the singularity of black holes
in the regularity of the Solar System
in the equilibrium of the Earth’s ecology
in the evolving of a society
. . .
in the functioning of our organs
in the chemical processes within our bodies
in the forces within the atom
in the “weird” behavior of quantum particles
. . . 

May I sit in wonder that I live entirely within Your Presence everywhere and in everything and everyone. [2]


Comments are closed.