Evolving the Universe


Evolving the Universe
Friday, June 8, 2018

Contemplation hastens the evolution of the human species. Whoever finds this out and practices it will hasten the evolutionary future of the human family. —Thomas Keating [1]

Consider what Franciscan scientist and sister Ilia Delio, a scholar of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, has to say about the technology that comes from human creativity and ingenuity:

In Teilhard’s view, the world is not . . . hurtling itself into aimless expansion . . . but is moved by Christ to Christ that God may be all in all. . . . The future of the material universe is intimately linked to the fulfillment [i.e., the evolutionary completion] of human beings in whom the world has come to consciousness. What we do matters to the “matter” of the universe, because by our choices we influence the life of the universe. [2] . . . The Parousia, or second coming of Christ, will ultimately be determined by the choices of the human community. . . .

Teilhard indicated that “the total Christ is only attained and consummated at the end of universal evolution.” [3] . . . That is, the Christ of the physical universe, the Christ of all humanity, the Christ of all religions. In this respect, Christ is not a static figure, like a goal post with a gravitational lure, toward which the universe is moving. Rather, Christ is in evolution because we, human and nonhuman creation, are in evolution. . . . We must take seriously the impact technology and science are causing on the shape of life in the universe. . . .

Technology can be defined as the organization of knowledge for the achievement of practical purposes. We may also describe it as the development of mechanical devices by the human community in its efforts to control or exploit the forces of nature. Throughout history, humans have been inventive in various ways, enhancing human life through means of technology. . . . The development of technology expresses the human’s self-development and self-expression through matter [i.e., the human capacity to be creative]; it is integral to being the image of God and thus integral to authentic self-realization. . . .

The notion of the human as a dynamic image of God, with a vocation to develop this image by evolving dialogue with the material cosmos, sets technology in a wider framework that provides strong religious, moral, and humanistic controls on its exploitation. . . . [4]

Teilhard saw that creativity and invention would forge the modern path of evolution, but he also saw that science alone cannot fulfill the cosmic longing for completion. God rises up at the heart of cosmic evolution through the power of love, which science and technology can facilitate but not surpass. The future of the earth, therefore, lies not in science and technology, but in the spiritual power of world religions and the power of love. We are born out of love, we exist in love, and we are destined for eternal love. . . . It is time to reinvent ourselves in love. [5]

[1] Thomas Keating, Reflections on the Unknowable (Lantern Books: 2014), 96-97.

[2] Summarizing [Karl] Rahner’s thoughts, [Denis] Edwards states that “what we do in our history has final and definitive value.” See [Denis] Edwards, Jesus and the Cosmos (Wipf & Stock Publishers: 1991), 97.

[3] Jean Danielou, “The Meaning and Significance of Teilhard de Chardin,” trans. John Lyon, Communio 15 (Fall 1988): 355.

[4] Ilia Delio, Christ in Evolution (Orbis Books: 2008), 157-159.

[5] Ilia Delio, “Love at the Heart of the Universe,” “The Perennial Tradition,” Oneing, vol. 1, no. 1 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2013, out of print), 22.

Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Contemplation hastens the evolution of the human species. Whoever finds this out and practices it will hasten the evolutionary future of the human family. —Thomas Keating

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