Faith and Science
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
The whole creation is eagerly waiting for the full revelation of the children of God. . . . From the beginning until now, the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth. —Romans 8:19-22
In this familiar passage, St. Paul seems to fully assume evolution. It has always seemed completely strange to me that there should be any resistance whatsoever to evolution in Christian theology or practice. Christians should have been the first in line to recognize and cooperate with such a dynamic notion of God. But maybe many do not enjoy a fully relational God—with all that that implies—and have just met an independent “substance” they call God.
It’s hard to imagine why so many still have a very static notion of God with Christianity’s rich wisdom: Trinity; the Indwelling Holy Spirit; Incarnation; salvation; the development of consciousness as seen in Judeo-Christian Scriptures, history, and individual lives. We largely surrendered to a notion of time with the human story ending in Armageddon and Apocalypse, which is complete heresy. Even resurrection was understood as a one-time anomaly concerning only Jesus; few saw it as a portent and promise for all of creation (see 1 Corinthians 15:20–25), as Paul and many of the early Church Fathers clearly did.
I can only assume that this reflects a very limited inner experience of God, which is always and predictably developmental and unfolding. Anyone with an inner life of prayer and a sense of soul knows this to be true. Anybody who has paid any attention to their inner life or read any history books surely recognizes that life and love are always cumulative, diffusive, and expanding. Perhaps it is this change that we fear. For some reason, we seem to think that admitting such love dynamism and, in fact, cooperating with it (see Romans 8:28), is going to compromise our eternal, unchanging notion of God. It’s just the opposite, I think.
If our God is both incarnate and implanted, both Christ and Holy Spirit, then an unfolding inner dynamism in all creation is not only certain, but also moving in a positive direction, with a divine goal that is always set before us. If not, we would have to question the very efficacy, salvation, hope, and victory that the Gospel so generously promises. Foundational hope demands a foundational belief in a world that is still and always unfolding. Personally, I have found that it is almost impossible to heal individuals if the whole cosmic arc is not also a trajectory toward the good, the true, and the beautiful. A popular Christian book in the 1970s, The Late, Great Planet Earth, gave a horrible theological foundation to our present cynical, nihilistic, and angry culture.  If the whole thing is going to hell in a handbasket, it is almost impossible to have personal hope or joy.
I believe the truth is we are “children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36), and we are both burdened and brightened by a cosmic and irrepressible hope. We are both burdened and brightened with the gift of an optimism whose headwaters are not rational or provable, and yet are endlessly knowable to both scientists and mystics, if their hearts and minds are humble. Somehow that is the key.
Gateway to Silence:
Divine Reality, endlessly knowable
 See (or rather, don’t!) Hal Lindsey and Carole C. Carlson, The Late, Great Planet Earth (Zondervan: 1970).
Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Introduction,” “Evidence,” Oneing, vol. 2, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), 13-14.