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Accepting Evolution as Our Story

An Evolving Faith

Accepting Evolution as Our Story
Friday, June 4, 2021

There are few writers that I find more hopeful or exciting about the process of evolution than Franciscan Ilia Delio. She examines evolution through the lens of science, theology, technology, and personal development and reminds us that while evolving can be painful, God is always with us and for us, in and through it all.

We have not accepted evolution as our story. We treat evolution as a conversational theory or something that belongs to science, as if science is something separate from us and outside our range of experience. Politically, we have fiefdoms and kingdoms; socially, we have tribes and cults; religiously, we have hierarchy and patriarchy. There is nothing [structurally] that sustains, supports, or nurtures human evolution.

By evolution, I mean simply that change is integral to life. We are becoming something that is not yet known. To live in evolution is to let go of structures that prevent convergence and deepening of consciousness and assume new structures that are consonant with creativity, inspiration, and development.

Evolution requires trust in the process of life itself. There is a power at the heart of life that is divine and lovable. In a sense we are challenged to lean into life’s changing patterns and attend to the new patterns that are emerging in our midst. To live in openness to the future is to live with a sense of creativity and participation, to use our gifts for the sake of the whole by sharing them with others.

There is something about this word evolution that frightens people, as if evolution renders us less human or less special as human. We do not talk in terms of evolution; nor do we think in terms of evolution. Our everyday lives are conceived as static and fixed, as if it has always been this way and should always remain this way. But this type of thinking is completely erroneous. . . .

We need to get on board with evolution. If we get nothing else straight about our present moment, it should be this: stability is an illusion. The ancient wisdom of Heraclitus reminds us of life’s endless activity: The only thing that is permanent is impermanence. No one steps in the same river twice. If there is no permanence in the present, then the only real stability is the future. The Buddha intuitively grasped the notion of evolution by advocating detachment, not necessarily the act of giving up the things of this world, but rather accepting and being consciously aware that nothing is permanent. So too, Francis of Assisi taught his disciples the principle of dispossession, not living without things but without possessing things. . . .

It is time to come together to work for what we share together, the future, into which we are being fearfully but irresistibly drawn. This is the true test of our faith, what we really believe in, because God is the power of the future.

Reference:
Ilia Delio, The Hours of the Universe: Reflections on God, Science, and the Human Journey (Orbis Books: 2021), 220–221, 223–225.

Story from Our Community:
I joined a Christian meditation group about a year and a half ago. I had just suffered a painful split from my husband and I was lost. Since that time my spiritual experience has continued to deepen and evolve, and I see the value of endarkenment. I look forward to the lessons learned from it. —Marlene W.

Image credit: Chaokun Wang, bamboo 天竹子 (detail), 2015, photograph, Wikiart.
Image inspiration: The capacity of bamboo to grow mirrors our own potential for inner unfolding. As long as there is life, there is evolution. As long as we have breath, our faith can continue to grow.
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