Everyone is an Evolutionist!

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There is a large number of the human race, myself included, who believe that the earth was not created in a literal seven days as depicted in the Bible. Instead, there are those who have chosen to adhere to a worldview that regards the creation of the universe as being part of a very long [and ongoing] process. This creation began long before human life came into existence and the process to get there is incomprehensibly long. Then there are other people who believe the world was created in a way that more closely reflects the creation narrative in Genesis 1-3. This group does not agree upon all the specifics of the way or nature this creation account took place, which also applies to those whose own scientific understanding of how the universe has evolved to this point. In my opinion, no matter which camp each of us finds ourselves should not be of importance. At their core, both those who call themselves evolutionists and those who call themselves creationists rely on the same means by which to understand the reality in which we exist. This concept is rooted in the notion of becoming. Both individually and corporately, we are aware of the truth that we have been something other than what we find ourselves to be in the present moment and recognize we are becoming something that will differ in the future.

From a scientific point of view this process of becoming is rooted in the physical universe. Those from the religious background regard the process of becoming within a spiritual nature. Evolutionists rely on facts, those things capable of being studied, and proven though experimentation. Those who believe in God (I would contend regardless of their understanding of creation) rely on their faith in the unseen conscious (or spiritual) self as becoming transformed. What if we focused on the areas we agree upon—if even for a moment? What if we agreed to temporarily let go of what we have been and together attempt to agree on where we are going? There is no one that can disagree that yesterday cannot be changed and likewise no one who can assert that tomorrow is decided. The past is gone. The future is yet to be.

“Forget the former things; 
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! 
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness 
and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:18-19

I believe besides agreeing in a future that looks different than today, there is another point of unity we can find between the religious and scientific communities. A place where all of humanity can find a general, although possibly somewhat ambiguous, coherence. I want to believe most of us could imagine or hope that there is a better way to live that humanity has not yet achieved. I will admit there are exceptions to this, but I think they are the minority. It is in regards to this idea that I want to request some of your time…Give yourself some time and space to imagine the world in its present state. Then begin to remove any and everything that you would if you could. Each time you restore something that is broken or rebuild the ruined or remember the forgotten—as you renew the earth begin to see it in your imagination in this new way. Begin to let that deep resonating longing of your heart to be set free. Don’t allow fear of any kind hold you back from dreaming up even those things that seem impossible. Stay conscious of the tendency to fall into negativity, and any time you sense it happening, gently but slowly bring your mind back. Think globally to divert selfish inclinations (something we all are naturally inclined to).

No hunger. No illness. No evil. No bullies. No suicide. No pollution. No depression. No hatred. No greed. No wars. No murder. No insecurities. No divisions. No violence. No sexual abuse. No disabilities. No exploitation. No anxiety. No fear. Then add more of the things that make life beautiful. More joy. More kindness. More grace. More scientific advancements. More intimacy. More creativity. More generosity. More beneficial communication. More growth. More freedom. More vitality. More trust. More healing. More energy. More forgiveness. More laughter. More love.

Try it. Imagine it. Visualize it. Hold onto it for dear life. Fall crazy in love with it. And when that crazy love roots itself inside you, I dare you to begin to hope for it. In fact, I am pleading with you—have hope.

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I Have No Idea What I Am Doing!

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The hubby and I were lying in bed the other night. He was watching an episode of The Office and I was contemplating how I was going to write my next blog post on Pierre Teilhard Chardin—the topic of my last few posts. After a few minutes of staring at my screen, I let out a moan and said in defeat, “This is just too big. I have no idea what I am doing! How do I convey in plain language the beauty and possibility Chardin is offering?” For the most part, Teilhard’s ideas are not compiled in one place in a neat and tidy manner. Rather, they are made up of various articles, unpublished writings, and a few documented speeches. Besides the few books that he completed, his works are written from various areas of his expertise, written at different times throughout his life, and translated by different people. The translation piece is worth noting since Teilhard often spoke using a vocabulary that was essentially of his own making. Over time, as I have read and reread his works I began to see things in a new way. I felt a hope and an understanding of a new vision that made sense to the here and now. It was exhilarating. Almost from day one I knew God was asking me to share this hope with others. I am finally at a place in my life I can do just that and I’m at a complete loss as how to go about it. To simply try and summarize his theories and assertions won’t suffice. So I have decided to try it from another angle. I want to use the hopeful desire, which the Spirit has set aflame in me, and paint a picture of how I see it translating into our current world. I know what he is saying, but I have no idea how to say it-—so I will say it the way I can—through my own words, with my own vision, and spurred on by my own hope.

Part of the reason I initially held back from casting this vision from a personal standpoint was, sadly, due to fear. While I regard Chardin as a philosopher first, a scientist second, and a theologian third—a claim he is very forward about stating—part of what I feel called to do is integrate a theological orthodoxy to the foundation already laid. It is not that the biblical narrative doesn’t appear in his works, in fact it is pervasive, but it clearly was not written to be used as a work of theology. I think it can be. My fear in this regard is taking the leap to attempt such a feat. Attempting to create a theological worldview is not only I’ve never done before, but something I never thought I would feel capable or confident to undertake. The foundation from which I am going to build upon, however, is one shrouded in questions and doubts over whether it can hold up to orthodoxy, and furthermore, if it is even something that has the qualities intrinsic for any theological basis. This fear, along with the following one, are the two greatest struggles in Chardin’s life and something that he never obtain resolution to in his life. Part of the reason Chardin didn’t directly use Scripture as his only means of building his theories is because of his heart for all people and of all faith backgrounds. He wanted no one to feel as though the hope he was offering was something only for Christians. I admire and agree with his decision on this.

There is another fear I feel compelled to confess. This struggle is in regards to evolution being at the foundation of all Teilhard believed. This issue is just one of many un-Christ like divisions within Christianity. Divisions that I contend are abhorrent if they revolve around any issue apart from the truth of God’s nature as being love, which is revealed through Christ on the cross. The centrality of the cross should by the center of everything we adhere to. It is here and only here we are able to understand God as love. The most comprehensive definition I know for the love Christ displayed on the cross is as follows: a self-sacrificial, other-oriented love that ascribes unsurpassable worth to another at the cost of oneself. My opinion about the centrality of the cross being the only reason for church division doesn’t negate the fact there is one regarding the evolution vs. creationism issue. But there is simply no way around it. In fact, it would be impossible to remove evolution from the equation here. Teilhard’s experience in geological studies and evolutionary discoveries is what inspired a majority of his work.

My encouragement to those who have a different view of interpreting creation is not to back away from the conversation, but rather to engage in it. I want to leave open a door for us to consider new possibilities among a group of people who may see things differently over certain things. My intention is not to bring conflict or division, but hope and unity. There will be things that will be a challenge on both sides, this I am certain. My aim is to create an environment of openness and vulnerability—a place where questions are welcomed. Questions are vital to any growth process. Doubts are good. Wresting is healthy. The key is for each to be open to change and willing to agree to disagree.

This is where I am at right now and this is where I will be going from here on out. God is so good and so faithful. It is Him who I look to for my words and I never feel as though he doesn’t deliver. So I will now put my trust in the One in which I live and move and have my being. Standing firm on the truth that perfect love casts out fear.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: A Hopeful Introduction

A Hopeful Intro Blog ImageI’ve spent the last two years devouring the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. A Jesuit priest who lived from 1881-1955. There is far too much that could be said about his life’s endeavors and experiences to include in one blog post; however, as I hope to continue to flesh out his works on my blog, I can imagine many of these will naturally arise throughout the process. Although there is one aspect of Chardin’s life that is helpful to know right up front. Chardin was both a Jesuit priest, as well as a distinguished paleontologist. His discoveries and contributions to the world are often more well known within the scientific community than they are among the religious (a very unfortunate reality for those in the latter community). This divide in scientific and religious worldviews would be his life’s passion and pain. He received opposition from both sides and struggled on how to best impart the vision he had been given to those around him. His was a vision that didn’t just make a way for scientific and religious realities to co-exist without disagreement, but rather made the two so intertwined and so dependent upon one another that once a person is able to grasp his vision it will soon become the only vision one can see. The problem is the vision Chardin casts is gigantic … and well, it’s also infinitesimal. It describes that which is both innumerably multiplied and simultaneously united into one singular being. Understanding the science behind his theory is doable, although it can still take me a great deal of effort at times. Chardin’s works are more than simply a scientific method laid out in such a way as to deliver facts based on evidence and devoid of beauty or intentionality. Teilhard is one of the most captivating poetic philosophers that I have ever had a chance to read. Reading his works is intellectually stimulating and simultaneously world changing, but at the same time spoken in such a way that I am driven to tears almost every time I hold one of his books in my hands.

My intention for this post was to get myself to a starting point with how to begin discussing his theories and ideas. I’m not sure I can say that has happened, but perhaps a short introduction–combined with a sense of my own admiration for Teilhard–was important to get the ball rolling. His first work was published shortly after he died in 1955 (He never published due to the church having forbid it due to the content). It is called “The Phenomenon of Man” and lays the foundation for his entire theory following after. I’m re-reading the work and my hope is to be able to write out some of my own understandings of what he has already laid out for us. An appropriate quote to end with today displays the beautiful poetic nature of his speech that I spoke of earlier, but also describes one type of person who he calls the enthusiast and in my opinion describes well the type of person Chardin embodied–that of a hopeful person. Hope is one of the things I find most compelling and captivating about Chardin’s qualities. He had an insatiable audacity to have unwavering hope in the truth of who Christ was, who Christ came to be, and who Christ is becoming through His church. Hope to declare a knowledge that the incarnation has truly and mysteriously enmeshed us through grace and brings us right into the midst of this incarnational story. Jesus came and then he invited us … Could it be that we have forgotten that our acceptance of His invitation must be regarded seriously both through the eyes of the spiritual, but also through the eyes of the physical? This quote comes from a lecture he gave 1943. He is describing such a hopeful being as this when he says, “Not only is it better to be than not to be [for the enthusiast], but they are convinced that it is always possible–and the possibility has a unique value–to attain a fuller measure of being. For these conquerors, enamored of the adventurous, being is inexhaustible–not in Gide’s way like a precious stone with innumerable facets which one can never tire of turning round and round–but like a focus of warmth and light to which one always draws closer. We may laugh at such men and say that they are ingenious, or we may find them tiresome; but at the same time it is they who have made us what we are, and it is from them that tomorrow’s earth is going to emerge.” To find such hope in this world and to live it out as it is already true is something humanity could never have too much of. And so, it turns out I did find my starting point for this series after all. We begin with hope, keep moving towards hope, and rest assured it is there we will find love.