Theme:
Science: Old and New

Science: Old and New

Summary: Sunday, November 3 — Friday, November 8, 2019

Like never before in history, this generation has at its disposal new and wonderful evidence from science, confirming the presence and power of what many of us would call A Very Insistent and Persistent Love at the heart of all creation. (Sunday)

Science is finding that the world is an integrated whole rather than separated parts. We are all holons, which are simultaneously a whole and yet a part of a larger whole. (Monday)

A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. —Carl Sagan (Tuesday)

Just as Augustine reinterpreted Christianity in light of Plato in the 4th century, and Aquinas integrated Aristotle in the 13th, today there are dozens of theologians across the spectrum re-envisioning the Christian faith [by integrating] . . . an evidence-based understanding of biological, cosmic, and cultural evolution. —Michael Dowd (Wednesday)

God is not “in” heaven nearly as much as God is the force field that allows us to create heaven through our intentions and actions. (Thursday)

The mycorrhizae may form fungal bridges between individual trees, so that all the trees in a forest are connected. . . . The trees all act as one because the fungi have connected them. Through unity, survival. All flourishing is mutual. —Robin Wall Kimmerer (Friday)

 

Practice: Relating to Plants

I was introduced to the work of biologist and Anglican Rupert Sheldrake in the book we both contributed to, How I Found God in Everyone and Everywhere. [1] While Sheldrake’s research of morphic resonance hasn’t been accepted by mainstream scientists, I do find value in many of his insights that probe the ever-unfolding mystery of reality.

In his recent book Science and Spiritual Practices, Sheldrake writes:

One of the areas in which religious people can learn from the nonreligious is in connecting with the more-than-human world in new ways opened up by science. Even the most atheistic scientists form a relationship with the natural world through their investigation of it, however specialized their field of study. Many religious people lack this sense of connection with the details of nature, and some seem impatient to soar beyond them.

This is an area with a huge potential for spiritual exploration. The natural sciences have unveiled a universe far larger, older, and stranger than anything previously imagined. They have revealed details about biological life that no one knew before, including the existence of realms of microorganisms around us, and also within us: the vast community of microbes that lives in our guts. The sciences have penetrated into realms of the very large and the very small which our ancestors knew nothing about. The trouble is that the sciences give us vast amounts of data, but it is devoid of personal or spiritual meaning. [2]

The advantage of most spiritual practices is precisely that they are about practice rather than belief. They are therefore open to religious people and to nonreligious people. They are inclusive. [3]

Plants offer us connections to life-forms totally different from our own. Like us, plants grow and become. But unlike plants, we stop growing and start behaving, as do other animals. Plants are the source of qualities that we and other animals experience: forms, smells, tastes, textures, and colors. They feed us, directly or indirectly; they heal us as herbs . . . and they are much older than we are. The main families of flowering plants have been around for tens of millions of years; conifers for three hundred million years; ferns, mosses, seaweeds, and other algae even longer. [4]

Following Sheldrake’s invitation to practice relating with nature, take some time to simply be present to a flower, plant, or tree. After choosing a quiet location (or selecting a photograph or art image if you’re not able to go outside), look around, above, below, and behind you, enjoying the environment and noting that you can feel completely safe and relaxed in this place. Open to your intuition or to any image or sensation about what specific flower, plant, or tree you will spend some time with in contemplation.

Sit or kneel quietly nearby. As humans, we tend to be observers of the world that appears outside of us. Instead, allow the flower, plant, or tree to observe you. Let yourself be seen by this being. Or you might do like the mystics and have a dialogue with your flower, plant, or tree. If you like, you might keep a journal reflecting on your experiences or to express gratitude for any insights that might arise. To make this a regular “practice,” set aside a similar time of day at least once a week when you can visit this flower, plant, or tree.

References:
[1] See Rupert Sheldrake, How I Found God in Everyone and Everywhere (Monkfish Book Publishing: 2018).

[2] Rupert Sheldrake, Science and Spiritual Practices: Transformative Experiences and Their Effects on Our Bodies, Brains, and Health (Counterpoint: 2018), 168-169.

[3] Ibid., 165.

[4] Ibid., 167.

For Further Study:
Rob Bell, Ilia Delio, and Richard Rohr, CONSPIRE 2014: A Benevolent Universe (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), MP4 video download

“Evidence,” Oneing, vol. 2, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014)

Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work that Reconnects (New Society Publishers: 2014)

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants (Milkweed Editions: 2013)

Image credit: Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan (detail), Paul Cézanne, 1880/1891. Minnesota Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: In the old times, our elders say, the trees talked to each other. They’d stand in their own council and craft a plan. But scientists decided long ago that plants were deaf and mute, locked in isolation without communication. . . . There is now compelling evidence that our elders were right—the trees are talking to one another. —Robin Wall Kimmerer
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Science: Old and New

Reciprocity
Friday, November 8, 2019

I’ve always had a special affection for trees, especially the centenarian cottonwood tree at the Center for Action and Contemplation here in Albuquerque. Science is discovering that trees have much to teach us. In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer—a botanist, professor, and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation—writes about how science is finally validating the wisdom of her Native American elders.

In the old times, our elders say, the trees talked to each other. They’d stand in their own council and craft a plan. But scientists decided long ago that plants were deaf and mute, locked in isolation without communication. The possibility of conversation was summarily dismissed. Science pretends to be purely rational, completely neutral, a system of knowledge-making in which the observation is independent of the observer. And yet the conclusion was drawn that plants cannot communicate because they lack the mechanisms that animals use to speak. . . . But pollen has been carried reliably on the wind for eons, communicated by males to receptive females to make . . . nuts. If the wind can be trusted with that fecund responsibility, why not with messages?

There is now compelling evidence that our elders were right—the trees are talking to one another. They communicate via pheromones, hormonelike compounds that are wafted on the breeze, laden with meaning. Scientists have identified specific compounds that one tree will release when it is under the stress of insect attack—gypsy moths gorging on its leaves or bark beetles under its skin. The tree sends out a distress call: “Hey, you guys over there? I’m under attack here. You might want to raise the drawbridge and arm yourselves for what is coming your way.” The downwind trees catch the drift, sensing those few molecules of alarm, the whiff of danger. This gives them time to manufacture defensive chemicals. . . . The individual benefits, and so does the entire grove. Trees appear to be talking about mutual defense. . . . There is so much we cannot yet understand with our limited human capacity. Tree conversations are still far above our heads.

Some studies of mast fruiting have suggested that the mechanism for synchrony comes not through the air, but underground. [1] The trees in a forest are often interconnected by subterranean networks of mycorrhizae, fungal strands that inhabit tree roots. The mycorrhizal symbiosis enables the fungus to forage for mineral nutrients in the soil and deliver them to the tree in exchange for carbohydrates. The mycorrhizae may form fungal bridges between individual trees, so that all the trees in a forest are connected. These fungal networks appear to redistribute the wealth of carbohydrates from tree to tree. A kind of Robin Hood, they take from the rich and give to the poor so that all the trees arrive at the same carbon surplus at the same time. They weave a web of reciprocity, of giving and taking. In this way, the trees all act as one because the fungi have connected them. Through unity, survival. All flourishing is mutual.

For too long science and faith fell into the “sin of certainty,” each claiming Truth only for themselves and ignoring the beautifully symbiotic relationship that exists between them. Scientists like Robin Wall Kimmerer are an essential part of the Great Turning, dissolving the artificial binaries that have walled them off from one another. May we all have minds and hearts open enough to integrate the wisdom of our spiritual elders.

References:
[1] Mast fruiting, also called masting, is the production of many nuts by forest trees every two or more years in regional synchrony with other trees of the same species. (Encyclopedia Brittanica, https://www.britannica.com/science/mast-seeding.)

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants (Milkweed Editions: 2013), 19-20.

Image credit: Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan (detail), Paul Cézanne, 1880/1891. Minnesota Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: In the old times, our elders say, the trees talked to each other. They’d stand in their own council and craft a plan. But scientists decided long ago that plants were deaf and mute, locked in isolation without communication. . . . There is now compelling evidence that our elders were right—the trees are talking to one another. —Robin Wall Kimmerer
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Science: Old and New

The Field of Love
Thursday, November 7, 2019

The physical phenomenon of quantum entanglement is a wonderful illustration of the interconnected nature of reality, both spiritual and material. Allow me to try to explain in layperson’s terms: In quantum physics, it appears that one particle of any entangled pair “knows” what is happening to another paired particle—even though there is no known means for such information to be communicated between the particles, which are separated by sometimes very large distances. [1] Perhaps we could compare this to phenomena such as bilocation, mental telepathy, providence, or synchronicity.

Most people of faith, however, have credited such frequent happenings to angels, the intervention of saints, or God, which is honestly as good a way to talk about these things as any—except this makes them exceptional, supernatural, or one-time anomalies instead of the implanted norm. Non-believers might ignore or deny such things or call them mere “accidents” or chance. All we seem to know is that “we” did not do this by any of our contrivances. It just “happened” by seemingly unseen or chaotic forces.

The Christian tradition clearly points to this entanglement. In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes that “the life and death of each of us has its influence on others” (14:7, Jerusalem Bible). The Apostles’ Creed affirms our belief in “the communion of saints.” There is apparently a positive inner connectedness that we can draw upon if we wish. It seems to me that quantum entanglement is a foundationally Christian concept, which is now finding voice in modern science.

I like to describe this phenomenon as the experiential “force field” of the Holy Spirit. One stays in this positive force field whenever one loves, cares, is in solidarity with, or serves with positive energy. In Trinitarian theology, the Holy Spirit is foundationally described as the field of love between the Father and the Son. When people stand in this place and rest in love as their home base, they become quite usable by God, and their lives are filled with quantum entanglements that may result in very real healings, forgiveness, answered prayers, and new freedom for those whom they include in the force field with them. (Is that what it means to pray for someone?) Conversely, there are people who carry death wherever they go; they can pull almost anyone into their negative force field. (Is this hell?)

I know that when I regress into any kind of intentional negativity toward anything or anybody, even in my mind, I am actually hurting and harming them and myself. Each of us moves things along in the direction of violence every time we fail to love. In one of my favorite books, An Interrupted Life, a young imprisoned Jew in Nazi Germany, Etty Hillesum, says straightforwardly, “Each of us must turn inwards and destroy in [ourselves] all that [we think we] ought to destroy in others. And remember that every atom of hate we add to this world makes it still more inhospitable.” [2] It surely follows that each of us moves things along in the direction of healing and wholeness each time we choose to love. It is always a choice and a decision.

We must deliberately choose to be instruments of peace—first of all in our minds and hearts. This is conscious quantum entanglement. God is not “in” heaven nearly as much as God is the force field that allows us to create heaven through our intentions and actions.

References:
[1] For a simple scientific explanation of quantum entanglement, see this brief video from Science News: https://youtu.be/6yfWdb-JOA8.

[2] Etty Hillesum, diary entry (September 23, 1942), An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum, 19411943, trans. Arno Pomerans (Pantheon Books: 1983), 180.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Quantum Entanglement,” the Mendicant, vol. 4, no. 6 (Center for Action and Contemplation: November 2014), 1.

Image credit: Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan (detail), Paul Cézanne, 1880/1891. Minnesota Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: In the old times, our elders say, the trees talked to each other. They’d stand in their own council and craft a plan. But scientists decided long ago that plants were deaf and mute, locked in isolation without communication. . . . There is now compelling evidence that our elders were right—the trees are talking to one another. —Robin Wall Kimmerer
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Science: Old and New

The Prodigal Species
Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The universe is a single reality—one long sweeping spectacular process of interconnected events. The universe is not a place where evolution happens; it is evolution happening. It is not a stage on which dramas unfold; it is the unfolding drama itself. . . . This [great cosmological] story shows us in the deepest possible sense that we are all sisters and brothers—fashioned from the same stellar dust, energized by the same star, nourished by the same planet, endowed with the same genetic code, and threatened by the same evils. This story . . . humbles us before the magnitude and complexity of creation. . . . It bewilders us with the improbability of our existence, astonishes us with the interdependence of all things, and makes us feel grateful for the lives we have. And not the least of all, it inspires us to express our gratitude to the past by accepting a solemn and collective responsibility for the future. —Loyal Rue [1]

Today, Rev. Michael Dowd continues explaining how integrating science with Christianity can change the way we live:

What matters most in how we use this new origin story is what has always mattered in the framing and tweaking of a people’s sense of inheritance and kinship: how well that story leads us toward living in right relationship to reality—that is, in more intimate communion with, and subservience to, God-Nature-Ultimacy.

[Philosopher Loyal Rue writes:]

The most profound insight in the history of humankind is that we should seek to live in accord with reality. [I, Richard, believe that reality is the greatest ally of God and God is fully aligned with Reality, both life and death.] Indeed, living in harmony with reality may be accepted as a formal definition of wisdom. If we live at odds with reality (foolishly), we will be doomed, but if we live in proper relationship with reality (wisely), we shall be saved. . . . [2]

Increasingly, the generations alive today (the devout included) relate to scientific, historic, and cross-cultural evidence as more authoritative than the dictates of an all-male, ecclesiastical body or a literalist reading of Scripture. . . .

Just as Augustine reinterpreted Christianity in light of Plato in the 4th century, and Aquinas integrated Aristotle in the 13th, today there are dozens of theologians across the spectrum re-envisioning the Christian faith. Whose ideas are they integrating now? Darwin, Einstein, Hubble, Wilson and all those who have corrected, and continually contribute to, an evidence-based understanding of biological, cosmic, and cultural evolution. . . .

Few things are more important than how we think about our inner and outer nature and our mortality. Thus far, the Evidential Reformation has been centered in science. Now is the time for our faith traditions to honor evidential revelation—facts as God’s native tongue—and carry on the vital tasks of interpretation, integration, and action.

Ours is the prodigal species. Having squandered our inheritance, we are waking up to our painful predicament. Thankfully God—Reality personified—awaits us with open arms and a welcoming heart. As Thomas Berry would remind us, the entire Earth community is rooting us on!

Richard here: I believe we have squandered our inheritance, which is the earth itself, the majesties and mysteries it holds. We’ve taken it for granted, using it too freely for our own selfish purposes while ignoring the deeply divine messages communicated in everything from the smallest sub-atomic particle to the largest black holes. Surely it is time for us to bring science and religion together.

References:
[1] Loyal Rue, Everybody’s Story: Wising Up to the Epic of Evolution (SUNY Press: 2000), 42-43.

[2] Loyal Rue, Religion Is Not About God (Rutgers University Press: 2005), 135.

Michael Dowd, “Evidential Mysticism and the Future of Earth,” “Evidence,” Oneing, vol. 2, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), 18, 19-20, 23-24.

Image credit: Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan (detail), Paul Cézanne, 1880/1891. Minnesota Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: In the old times, our elders say, the trees talked to each other. They’d stand in their own council and craft a plan. But scientists decided long ago that plants were deaf and mute, locked in isolation without communication. . . . There is now compelling evidence that our elders were right—the trees are talking to one another. —Robin Wall Kimmerer
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Science: Old and New

An Evidence-Based Emergence
Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Rev. Michael Dowd is an evidential mystic and eco-theologian who has earned the respect of Nobel laureate scientists, many religious leaders, and little old me. Michael and his science-writer wife, Connie Barlow, show how a sacred-science view of reality can inspire people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs to work together in service to a just and thriving future for all. Dowd writes:

Religion is undergoing a massive shift in perspective . . . as wrenching as the Copernican revolution, which required humanity to bid farewell to an Earth-centered understanding of our place in the cosmos. The religious revolution on the horizon today might well be called the “Evidential Reformation.” We humbly shift away from a human-centric, ethnocentric, and shortsighted view of what is important. At the same time, we expand our very identities to encompass the immense journey of life made known by the full range of sciences. In so doing, we all become elders of a sort, instinctively willing to do whatever it takes to pass on a world of health and opportunities no lesser than the one into which we were born. . . . .

An evidential worldview has become crucial. We now know that evolutionary and ecological processes are at the root of life and human culture. To disregard, to dishonor, these processes through our own determined ignorance and cultural/religious self-focus is an evil that will bring untold suffering to countless generations of our own kind and all our relations. We must denounce such a legacy. Ours is thus a call to . . . sacred activism. [Twenty-five] years ago, Carl Sagan both chided and encouraged us in this way:

How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed.” . . . A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge. [1]

I [Dowd] submit that the “religion” of which Sagan spoke has been emerging for decades, largely unnoticed, at the nexus of science, inspiration, and sustainability. Rather than manifesting as a separate and competing doctrine, it is showing up as a meta-religious perspective (. . . an insight discerned by Thomas Berry). Such an evidence-based emergent can nourish any secular or religious worldview that has moved past fundamentalist allegiances to the literal word of sacred texts.

I, Richard, agree with Michael Dowd that healthy conversations between science and faith have been taking place for decades, but I mourn the fact that they have been on the margins of both the academy and our churches. I rarely bring science into my Sunday sermons, perhaps because I assume it’s not what people want to hear. However, if we truly want to be a part of the “Evidential Reformation,” we must each do our part to understand and share the ways science and our faith affirm one another.   

References:
[1] Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (Random House Publishing: 1994), 50.

Michael Dowd, “Evidential Mysticism and the Future of Earth,” “Evidence,” Oneing, vol. 2, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), 15-18.

Image credit: Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan (detail), Paul Cézanne, 1880/1891. Minnesota Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: In the old times, our elders say, the trees talked to each other. They’d stand in their own council and craft a plan. But scientists decided long ago that plants were deaf and mute, locked in isolation without communication. . . . There is now compelling evidence that our elders were right—the trees are talking to one another. —Robin Wall Kimmerer
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Science: Old and New

The Great Turning
Monday, November 4, 2019

I have set before you life and death . . . therefore choose life. —Deuteronomy 30:19

Eco-philosopher, Earth elder, friend, and spiritual activist Joanna Macy, now ninety years old, has been promoting a global transition from the Industrial Growth Society to a Life-Sustaining Society for most of her life. She calls it the Great Turning, a revolution of great urgency: “While the agricultural revolution took centuries, and the industrial revolution took generations, this ecological revolution has to happen within a matter of years.” [1] She is hopeful as she sees individuals and groups participating in “1) Actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings; 2) Analysis and transformation of the foundations of our common life; [and] 3) A fundamental shift in worldview and values.” [2]

Macy understands that the third type of action—essentially, a new way of seeing— “require[s] a shift in our perception of reality—and that shift is happening now, both as cognitive revolution and spiritual awakening.” [3] While the shift may not be obvious in my own generation, we need look no further than the ongoing powerful and prophetic presence of young leaders, like indigenous teenagers Tokata Iron Eyes (a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe who plays a key role in the “Rezpect Our Water” campaign) and Autumn Peltier (also a water protector and a citizen of the Wiikwemkoong First Nation); they have been joined recently by Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who spoke at the United Nations Climate Action Summit and helped inspire Climate Strikes around the world. In the face of criticism, Greta calls her Asperger’s syndrome a “superpower” that gives her a clear perspective on the climate crisis. May we be motivated by these committed young advocates and lend our voices and strength to heal our wounded world.

Macy explains:

The insights and experiences that enable us to make this shift may arise from grief for our world that contradicts illusions of the separate and isolated self. Or they may arise from breakthroughs in science, such as quantum physics and systems theory. Or we may find ourselves inspired by the wisdom traditions of native peoples and mystical voices in the major religions; we hearken to their teachings as to some half-forgotten song that our world is a sacred whole in which we have a sacred mission. [4]

St. Hildegard von Bingen (1098–1179), a Germanic nun, mystic, and healer, was doing this 800 years ago. In her book Scivias she wrote, “You understand so little of what is around you because you do not use what is within you.” [5] Somehow, she already understood what science is now affirming: “The macrocosm is mirrored in the microcosm.” Science is finding that the world is an integrated whole rather than separated parts. Nothing in the cosmos operates independently. We are all holons, which are simultaneously whole in themselves, and at the same time part of a larger whole. This understanding is moving us from a narrow, mechanistic, Newtonian view of the universe to a holistic/ecological view. [6] Nothing is static, and if you try to construct an unchangeable or independent universe for yourself, you will be moving against the now obvious divine plan and direction.

References:
[1] Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work that Reconnects (New Society Publishers: 2014), 4.

[2] Ibid., 6. Emphasis mine.

[3] Ibid., 14.

[4] Ibid., 14.

[5] Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias, 1.2.29. Translation from Avis Clendenen, “Hildegard: ‘Trumpet of God’ and ‘Living Light’” in Chicago Theological Seminary Register, vol. 89, no. 2 (Spring 1999), 25.

[6] Ilia Delio explores the concepts of holons and moving toward a holistic view in CONSPIRE 2014: A Benevolent Universe (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), MP4 video download.

Image credit: Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan (detail), Paul Cézanne, 1880/1891. Minnesota Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: In the old times, our elders say, the trees talked to each other. They’d stand in their own council and craft a plan. But scientists decided long ago that plants were deaf and mute, locked in isolation without communication. . . . There is now compelling evidence that our elders were right—the trees are talking to one another. —Robin Wall Kimmerer
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Science: Old and New

A Very Insistent Love
Sunday, November 3, 2019

Science and religion are long-lost dance partners. —Rob Bell [1]

Faith provides evidence for things not seen. —Hebrews 11:1

For centuries, science and religion worked together, learning from creation. As Ilia Delio, both a scientist and a Franciscan sister, says, “Doing science was a way of giving God glory.” But when Copernicus (1473–1543) discovered that the Earth was not the center of the universe—and Galileo (1564–1642) validated his observations—Christian leaders were not willing to change their thinking. Delio says, “That was the beginning of the rift between science and religion.” [2]

Although the faith tradition insisted that there was indeed “evidence for things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), too often the common notion of faith became something like “whistling in the dark,” or a kind of rugged holding-on that equated faith with a dogged perseverance and love of “old time religion”—back when “God was really God.” It had little to do with discerning the actual evidence that was commonly available in the present, in the mind, memory, heart, soul, and in creation itself.

Mystics like Augustine (354–430), Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582), and John of the Cross (1542–1591) found that evidence in the very nature of the soul and its inner workings, but this was not taught to or experienced by most Christians. Many found evidence in Scripture and dogmas that matched and affirmed their personal God encounter, but perhaps even more used Scripture and dogma to deem human experience untrustworthy. Celtic spirituality in general, Francis of Assisi (1182–1226), Bonaventure (1221–1274), Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955), many poets, and everyday mystics found evidence in the natural world, in elements, seasons, animals, and all living things. Sadly, these teachers were often marginalized outside the mainline Christian tradition. Theirs was not seen as “true Transcendence.” How did we miss the core Christian message of Incarnation and its implications when the message was so clear?

What can be known about God is perfectly plain since God has made it plain. Ever since God created the world, God’s everlasting power and deity—however invisible—has been perfectly evident for the mind to see in the things that God has made. —Romans 1:19-20

Fortunately, like never before in history, this generation has at its disposal new and wonderful evidence from science, confirming the presence and power of what many of us would call God or A Very Insistent and Persistent Love at the heart of all creation. (Call it gravity, sexuality, orbits, cycles, magnetism, electricity, photosynthesis, reproduction, animal nurturance of their young, springtime, reincarnation, rebirth, or whatever descriptive model works best for you.)

After centuries of dualistic dismissal, religion is finally ready to befriend the wisdom of science. And science is regaining the humility to recognize that the intuitions and metaphors of religion are not entirely naïve. They are both in their own way trying to honestly name our human experience, and they are actually quite attuned to each other.

References:
[1] To read more from Rob Bell about the shared truth of science and religion, see his book What We Talk About When We Talk About God (HarperOne: 2013), especially chapter 2.

[2] Ilia Delio, “God, Evolution, and the Power of Love,” CONSPIRE 2014: A Benevolent Universe, Session 8 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), MP4 video download.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Introduction,” “Evidence,” Oneing, vol. 2, no. 2 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), 11-12.

Image credit: Chestnut Trees at Jas de Bouffan (detail), Paul Cézanne, 1880/1891. Minnesota Institute of Art, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: In the old times, our elders say, the trees talked to each other. They’d stand in their own council and craft a plan. But scientists decided long ago that plants were deaf and mute, locked in isolation without communication. . . . There is now compelling evidence that our elders were right—the trees are talking to one another. —Robin Wall Kimmerer
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