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God Becoming

Friday, November 6, 2015

Science: Week 1

God Becoming
Friday, November 6, 2015

John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308), who made the Franciscan intuition into a philosophy, said Christ was the very first idea in the mind of God, and God, as it were, has never stopped thinking, dreaming, and creating the one, eternal Christ. “The immense diversity and pluriformity of this creation more perfectly represents God than any one creature alone or by itself,” adds Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274) in his Summa Theologica (47:1). [1]

Ilia Delio describes the dance between God and the universe: “God is eternal, self-sufficient divinity; yet the universe contributes something that is vitally necessary to God. Creation is integral to God. It contributes to God what God lacks in his[/her] own divinity, namely, materiality. Evolution is not only the universe coming to be, but it is God who is coming to be.” [2]

Some Christians are uncomfortable with the idea of evolution, although it’s rather impossible to deny the fossil record. Perhaps they are afraid to allow themselves to go beyond a very literal reading of the Bible. Or perhaps they feel God is being replaced by scientific and natural laws. They may feel like evolution somehow takes away human dignity. But think about it: we all come from the same origin, the same God. Who else created the natural laws or the ability of scientists to discover scientific laws? And doesn’t it make sense that God would create things that create themselves? As Delio points out, Teilhard de Chardin “said that evolution imparts a new identity to the human person; we are the arrow of evolution and the direction of its future.” [3] We are co-creators with God, in however minor a way. Delio writes: “Evolution discloses a new God, an immanent-transcendent fullness of love that inspires us to create anew, a new earth with a new God rising from within. . . . Evolution is ‘wholemaking’ in action, the rise of consciousness that realizes self-separateness is an illusion.” [4]

For many of us, it’s hard to imagine that God is actually evolving. We’ve heard that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Yes, and God is love, and God has always been love, and God will always be love. But God can also evolve to be more love! Surely you’ve noticed that it’s the most loving people you know who want to be more loving. That’s just the character of love—it’s always expansive and multiplies itself.

When we trust that our world and our own selves are evolving, we don’t have to cling so tightly to everything being just so, to being correct and in control. God is not static, and neither is our universe. It is ever changing, with the possibility—through our participation—of evolving toward greater love and wholeness. But this outcome isn’t guaranteed. Mary Evelyn Tucker and Brian Swimme caution and encourage us:

Our sense of the whole is emerging in a fresh way as we feel ourselves embraced by the evolutionary powers unfolding over time into forms of ever-greater complexity and consciousness. We are realizing too, that evolution moves forward with transitions, such as the movement from inorganic matter to organic life and from single celled organisms to plants and animals that sweep through the evolutionary unfolding of the universe, the Earth, the human. All such transitions come at times of crisis; they involve tremendous cost, and they result in new forms of creativity. The central reality of our times is that we are in such a transition moment. This is not an easy moment as already human suffering and environment loss are widespread. It is not a guaranteed transition, as it will require tremendous human creativity, emotional intelligence, and spiritual strength. [5]

Yes, you are the “Second Coming of Christ”!

Gateway to Silence:
Evolving toward love

[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Creation as the Body of God,” Radical Grace, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010).

[2] Ilia Delio, unpublished CONSPIRE 2014 conference. For more on this, see The Francis Factor videos in which Ilia discusses similar themes.

[3] Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love (Orbis Books: 2013), xx-xxi.

[4] Ibid., xxvi.

[5] Mary Evelyn Tucker and Brian Thomas Swimme, “The Universe Story and Planetary Civilization,” Radical Grace, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2011).

Image Credit: Veil Nebula Supernova Remnant (detail), NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team.
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