The Pattern of Evolution

Christ in Evolution

The Pattern of Evolution
Monday, March 11, 2019

Perhaps the reason it is so hard for us to see the evolution of the Cosmic Christ in our individual lives and in the arc of history is that this groaning and this giving birth (see Romans 8:22) proceeds by a process of losses and gains, and the losses are very real. There is no doubt that history goes three steps forward and two steps backward, but thank God there seems to be a net gain. We may be more aware of war, racism, classism, genocide, and ignorance around the world today, yet violence is actually declining. [1]

When a new level of maturity is found, there is an immediate and strong instinct to pull backward to the old and familiar. This is even included in the Biblical text, which is crucially important to understand. Thankfully, there is always a leaven, a critical mass, a few people who carry the momentum toward healing and wholeness. This is the Second Coming of Christ: Christ embodied by people who can no longer live fearfully, hatefully, or violently. There are always some who have been transformed by Love, by the Christ Mystery. This is the corporate shape of “salvation.”

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) wrote: “Everything that rises must converge.” [2] In other words, evolution moves toward unity. Along the way there will be differentiation and complexity, but paradoxically, that increased complexity moves life to a greater level of unity at a higher level, until in the end there is only God who is “all in all” (see 1 Corinthians 15:28).

With greater differentiation and complexity there will also be pushback, fear, and confusion. We see this in our current political climate in the United States and much of the world. It mirrors Newton’s Third Law of Motion that “every action elicits an equal and opposite reaction.” Today many people are reverting to nationalistic thinking, denial of climate change, the stoking of fear and hatred, rather than imagining solutions to very real issues of poverty, immigration, injustice, and other forms of suffering.

What can we do in the face of resistance? I believe contemplation or nondual consciousness can help us approach change with creativity, openness, and courage. Thomas Berry (1914–2009), a Catholic priest and eco-theologian, envisioned our species coming together around a shared story of the universe. While he knew the transition would be challenging, Berry held out hope:

. . . [T]he basic mood of the future might well be one of confidence in the continuing revelation that takes place in and through the earth. If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. Sensitized to such guidance from the very structure and functioning of the universe, we can have confidence in the future that awaits the human venture. [3]

References:
[1] If you’re curious to see supporting data for the idea that earth is less violent, see Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack’s article “The World Is Not Falling Apart” (Slate: 2014). See also Hans Rosling, Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong about the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think (Flatiron Books: 2018).

[2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man (Image Books: 1964), 186.

[3] Thomas Berry, “The New Story,” The Dream of the Earth (Sierra Club Books: 1988), 137.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Christ, Cosmology, & Consciousness: A Reframing of How We See (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2010), MP3 download.

Image credit: Gua Tewet Tree of Life (detail), cave painting, Borneo, Indonesia.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: If the dynamics of the universe from the beginning shaped the course of the heavens, lighted the sun, and formed the earth, if this same dynamism brought forth the continents and seas and atmosphere, if it awakened life in the primordial cell and then brought into being the unnumbered variety of living beings, and finally brought us into being and guided us safely through the turbulent centuries, there is reason to believe that this same guiding process is precisely what has awakened in us our present understanding of ourselves and our relation to this stupendous process. —Thomas Berry (1914-2009)

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