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Center for Action and Contemplation

Participating in Creation

Thursday, March 1, 2018


Participating in Creation
Thursday, March 1, 2018

In her book, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World, the little- known but outstanding theologian Beatrice Bruteau (1930-2014) makes some excellent points about why contemplatives ought to embrace evolution:

People who identify themselves as contemplatives may shy away from science for a number of reasons. . . . They may feel that it’s too impersonal, has no human warmth. It’s too technical, too abstract, doesn’t have immediate emotional appeal. . . .

Before we consider whether we are interested in the scientific study of this universe, let us ask whether God is “interested in” the universe, how it is structured, how it works, how it’s developing. If we believe in a Creator-God, who is still in the act of creating this universe, how can we pretend to be interested in God but not interested in what God is doing, in what (presumably) God is interested in? And if we were to attain our contemplative ideal of sharing in the divine life, would we not be sharing in the activity of creating the universe?

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 the 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.” [1] 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.

So there are two motivations for including some knowledge of science in our contemplative lives: one, we need to understand God’s artistic work in order to appreciate it properly and relate lovingly to the Creator; two, we need to know something of the work in order to join it, to participate in creating the world from here on. This last is the real way of loving, that is, by joining in the life of the beloved.

[1] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Letters from a Traveller (Harper & Row: 1962), 133, 305.

Beatrice Bruteau, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 1997), 11-12.

If we are created in the image and likeness of God, then whatever good, true, or beautiful things we can say about humanity or creation we can also say of God—but they’re even more true! God is the beauty of creation and humanity multiplied to the infinite power. —Richard Rohr
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