Reframing Our Cosmology

Creation: Week 2

Reframing Our Cosmology
Tuesday, February 20, 2018

If you wear glasses, perhaps you’ve experienced receiving a new prescription and suddenly you see the world in a new way. We often get used to “seeing the world” with an inadequate or outdated prescription. It is only when we go in for a check up that we realize we need a lens update, and what a difference it makes!

Cosmology—our understanding of the origins of our world and how our world works—is just like that. How we understand the universe comprises a “lens” through which we tend to understand everything else in life. Many of us who grew up in the church don’t realize that we’ve inherited a pretty blurry cosmology: a usually male God, separate from our world, who stands back and judgmentally observes the goings on of our universe and humanity’s faults and failings. This just does not work, and I do not apologize for saying it.

This view has gone a long way in perpetuating the idea that we are isolated from each other and from God and that there is something inherently wrong with us and the world. Christianity’s adherence to Greek philosophical ideas that matter and spirit are separate has perpetuated a split between theology (or “God-talk”) and science.

Beatrice Bruteau (1930-2014), who brings such profound spiritual intelligence to our necessary conversation, can help us update our cosmology to a lens that is more compatible with science and the world around us. Rather than a God that is removed from us, she explains how the Trinity reveals God as actively moving in and through our world:

What we now call complexity, and recognize as doing its creative work on the very edge of chaos, is at the heart of this miraculous picture. There may not be an external Designer and a micro-managing Providence from the outside, but neither is the world devoid of divinity. The divinity is so intimately present in the world that the world can be regarded as an incarnate expression of the Trinity, as creative, as expansive, as conscious, as self-realizing and self-sharing.

I have called this creative act God’s ecstasy. Ecstasy means standing outside oneself. It is kin to the kenosis of Philippians 2:6—being God is not a thing to be clung to, so God empties Godself, taking the form of limitation in finitude, and is born as a universe. It is the defining divine act: self-giving, being-bestowing. Ecstasy has the connotations of extreme love and supreme joy. That is right for the creation of the universe.

. . . We need a new theology of the cosmos, one that is grounded in the best science of our day. It will be a theology in which God is very present, precisely in all the dynamisms and patterns of the created order, in which God is not rendered absent by the self-organizing activities of the natural world, but in which God is actual as the one who makes and the one who is incarnate in what is made by these very self-making activities. [1]

Reference:
[1] Beatrice Bruteau, God’s Ecstasy: The Creation of a Self-Creating World, (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2016, © 1997), 9-10, 13.

Image credit: Winter Leaf II: CAC Gardens (detail), by Nicholas Kramer.
The Divine Presence is happening in, through, and amidst every detail of life . . . penetrates all that exists. Everything in virtue of coming into existence is in relationship to this Source. Thomas Keating

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