An audio interview with Thomas E. Hosinski
In this Omega Center interview Brie Stoner engages in conversation with theologian and writer Fr. Thomas Hosinski, discussing topics from his recently published book The Image of the Unseen God: Catholicity, Science, and Our Evolving Understanding of God (Catholicity in an Evolving Universe). As Fr. Hosinski explains there are four primary themes he offers for exploration in this book, and these also provide the basis for the dialogue and further expansion in this audio conversation.
For context, Fr Hosinski provides this summary of his intentions in writing The Image of the Unseen God:
I tried to do four things in this book. First, I wanted to show that one could use process philosophy and theology and be orthodox. Process thought, based on the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), is a unique metaphysical vision of reality and God that takes relativity theory, quantum theory and evolution seriously, but which also respects what poetry, art, the humanities, common sense, and religion contribute to our understanding. Many Catholic theologians have rejected process theology as incompatible with Christian orthodoxy, mainly, in my view, because the most prominent process theologians have been quite radical in their willingness to abandon traditional Christian doctrines such as creation from nothing and the Trinity. I have tried to show that one may use Whiteheadian thought, appropriately revised, to express the most cherished Christian convictions about God, including creation from nothing and the technical Trinitarian and Christological doctrines.
I also wanted to build on some very important ideas expressed throughout the Christian theological tradition. In particular, I trace two major ideas through several great theologians of the past. The first is the idea that existence is participation in the being or life of God. This allows us to understand creation as God sharing God’s being and life with all creatures. Another important idea in the tradition is that God’s action is hidden within the natural processes of the universe. Developing this idea enables us to reconcile the claims of Christian faith about divine action with the contemporary scientific understanding of reality.
I believe it is also important to take account of what contemporary science teaches us about reality and to develop an understanding of God compatible with science. If we do not articulate our understanding of God in conversation with science, we will fail to serve our faith well. Consequently, I have two chapters in the book summarizing the major developments in physics, cosmology, and evolutionary theory and drawing out what I see as their major implications for theology.
Finally, neither philosophy nor science is the foundation of the Christian understanding of God. That foundation must be what the person, teachings, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ reveal about God. I have thought for a long time that the technical doctrine of God in Christian theology has largely ignored the implications of the teachings and actions of Jesus. If we believe that Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God, then what Jesus said or implied about God and what he did ought to give us essential criteria for formulating an understanding of God. Therefore I begin the book with a study of Jesus’ teachings and actions, which reveal to us a rather unusual understanding of God’s power, judgment, and action. The view of God emanating from Jesus’ actions and teachings is surprisingly compatible with the view of reality we find emerging from contemporary science.
God is the great mystery, ultimately incomprehensible. New conceptualities may give us a new understanding of God; in the end, however, we cannot capture God with our minds. But we can know God with our hearts as the mystery of Love, source of life and healing, dwelling with us and in us in love.
LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE (~ 54 minutes):
DOWNLOAD AUDIO MP3 HERE (Chrome, Safari, IE, and other browsers right-click & save to download)
RESOURCES REFERENCED IN THIS CONVERSATION:
The Image of the Unseen God: Catholicity, Science, and Our Evolving Understanding of God (Catholicity in an Evolving Universe) – by Thomas E. Hosinski
Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness (Catholicity in an Evolving Universe Series) – by Ilia Delio p. 175
The Grand Option: Personal Transformation and a New Creation (Gethsemani Studies in Psychological and Religious Anthropology) – by Beatrice Bruteau
Thank You. “We love because we know we are loved.”
I greatly appreciate “the idea that existence is participation in the being or life of God” that is matched in the interview with the image of participation in the divine life as communion in agape love rather than the image of participation as a child of the divine parent. One aspect of the latter image that I think is still valuable for us, however, relates to the limited ability of the human mind and heart to realize the form in which divine love might be manifested now and in the future, especially without continually undergoing the kenotic gesture of letting go of clinging to one’s own idea of how divine love must be manifested, without being willing to “change and become like little children” who, through trust, come to accept parent actions as loving, even if the actions do not readily fit the childish idea of love.
I also appreciate the idea that we participate in the completion of creation, which is ongoing to a fuller manifestation of the divine nature and that the zygote need not despair that the embryo is not manifestly present already. But the reassurance of a future manifestation of the divine nature in the universe means little to me without an equal realization of how the latency of the embryo in the zygote is not already, in a way, its presence (how the kingdom of God is already within), even if some zygotes and even embryos have tragic outcomes. One way that this is expressed in the interview is God’s endowment of creation with some degrees of freedom, which can be seen as God’s self-emptying.
Thank you for the interview.