Cosmology: Part One: Weekly Summary

Cosmology: Part One

Summary: Sunday, August 25—Friday, August 30, 2019

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 laws 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]

References:
[1] Denis Edwards, Jesus and the Cosmos (Paulist Press: 1991), 115.

[2] Adapted from Andre Auger, “Given This Universe, What/Who Is God?” Spiritual Practices: An Introduction to Christian Spiritual Practices, http://spiritualpractice.ca/welcome/meditating-on-the-cosmos/13-given-this-universe-whatwho-is-god/.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014), 215-216.

For Further Study:
Rob Bell, Ilia Delio, and Richard Rohr, CONSPIRE 2014: A Benevolent Universe (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), MP4 video download

Judy Cannato, Quantum Grace: Lenten Reflections on Creation and Connectedness (Ave Maria Press: 2003)

Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love (Orbis Books: 2013)

“Evolutionary Thinking,” Oneing, vol. 4, no. 2 (CAC Publishing: 2016)

Barbara A. Holmes, Race and the Cosmos: An Invitation to View the World Differently (Trinity Press International: 2002)

Image credit: Starry Night Over the Rhône (detail), Vincent van Gogh, 1888, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of God’s hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. —Psalm 19:1-4
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