The Incarnation Is the Meaning and Purpose of Evolution

The Incarnation Is the Meaning and Purpose of Evolution

 

Q: “It might be time to stop looking for a perfect God and awaken to an imperfect God, a God who is still becoming God precisely because God emptied Godself into human form (Phi. 2:6). God succumbed to the limits of matter so that matter could discover its potential in God. What does a messy God look like, an incomplete God? I think such a God looks like us humans who keep trying to overcome our failings and deficiencies.” What does this mean? Are you saying that God [in your blog “Divine Love In An Imperfect World”] is not perfect, that the God who IS is really only becoming God? How could God be incomplete? I have never read any theologian speak this way. I am being respectfully curious as I love the work you are doing.”

Robert Nicastro: Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin understood the science of evolution as the best explanation for biological and cosmological life. In his estimation, it describes the entirety of nature as one continuous process of unfolding life, an unfinished world desirous of completion. In the Phenomenon of Man, he writes: “Evolution is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, all systems must bow and which they must satisfy henceforth if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow.”[1] As evolution affects every dimension of life, Teilhard believed that it should serve as the fundamental launching pad for all present and future theological speculation.

In contrast to the antiquated notion of God as some prime mover pushing creation from the past, Teilhard conceived of evolution as a forward movement of increasing states of complexity and consciousness. Informed by the new physics of the early twentieth century, particularly Einstein’s discovery of the interconvertibility of matter and energy, Teilhard’s insight demands that we reconceive God as the source of energy empowering, persuading, and summoning the whole cosmic process from up ahead—a future in which God and world are consciously bound together in a dynamic, totalizing union.

While many twentieth-century theologians sought to articulate an integral complementarity between God and nature, Teilhard’s identification of this relationship was unique. It is unique in that the Incarnation serves as the meaning and purpose of evolution, for God is the experiential energy of evolution itself. For Teilhard, consciousness is the inside of matter and the power of attraction responsible for deepening union is the outside of matter. He called the core energy of consciousness and attraction love—and, according to the Christian message of Scripture, God is love.[2] Therefore, he employed the term “theogenesis” to describe God’s ongoing birth in evolution through the converging vitality of love. As our consciousness of unity advances, God progressively becomes God in us and is transformed through the process of unification. Teilhard explains that while “God is entirely self-sufficient, the universe contributes something that is vitally necessary to him[3] and, therefore, without creation, without God’s involvement in evolution, “something would be absolutely lacking to God, considered in the fullness not of his being but of his act of union.”[4] Such is the meaning and purpose of the Incarnation: God plunges into matter and is completed by humankind through the conscious complexification of divinity and materiality, rendering the human an indispensable element of God’s active presence in the world. In The Heart of Matter, Teilhard is unmistakable: “All around us, and within our own selves, God is in process of ‘changing,’ as a result of the coincidence of his magnetic power and our own Thought.”[5]

Notes:

[1] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, trans. Bernard Wall (New York: Harper and Row, 1959), 219.

[2] John 4:13

[3] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution: Reflections on Science and Religion, trans. Rene Hague (New York: Harper and Row, 1969), 182.

[4] Ibid., 77.

[5] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Heart of Matter, trans. Rene Hague (New York: Harcourt, 1978), 53.

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New Creation is the Center for Christogenesis online magazine dedicated to deepening our awareness of God, Cosmos, and Humanity in a scientific age.

Ω Vision and Ω Spirit cover questions of the theology and spirituality of the Center for Christogenesis worldview. Other areas include our What is God Today? video series, the Visio Divina image gallery, a Resources section with videos and PowerPoints, and the latest from Ilia Delio.

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A love letter to Ilia and Peirre Teilhard de Chardin Dear Ilia, I am so grateful to have found your books, your website, the Omega community and you, the prophet. Of course none of this was accidental. It all started with a car accident on my 21st birthday in 1968. I was driving alone at night, back to my job as a junior housemistress in a rural boarding school in Australia. Only my knee was badly injured in the accident but when I regained consciousness in the ambulance, I was aware of a terrible pain in my chest (bruising from the impact against the steering wheel before seat belts) as I struggled to breathe, it crossed my mind that I might be dying. I remember clearly thinking ‘what did the nuns teach us to do when one is dying?’. I was feeling pretty panicky by now and said the ‘Our Father’ as I was praying I relaxed with great relief because I knew from that moment (since never waived in my whole body conviction), that I actually, after all that teenage angst and doubt , did believe in God and more importantly that he/she believed in me. It was the greatest birthday gift I could have wished for . However it took about 15 years of ‘unfolding’’ to recognise the giftedness of this experience. The freedom of discovering that “faith” is not a noun but a verb of growing and becoming has given me licence to come and go, explore here and there, on and off. From Liberation theology, to the feminist project, sojouning with protestant friends and projects in social justice and ecological activism to Francis’ Laudato Si, the testament in scripture and finally home to the cosmic Christ and Teilhard de Chardin. Recently I get quite giddy, or ‘tipsy’, in awe and wonder at evolutionary creation and sometimes can cry at the privilege of being part of it. When I see an ant, busy about its business, or a weed struggling between the paving stones, I say to them,’even to be one of you would have been a great gig in this universe!, but to be chosen to be human through chance and natural selection, at this time of internet and DNA, to live in this country of security and more than my needs, to be a woman, a mother, grandmother and to have reached this consciousness of ’ unbearable wholeness’ and all that that means takes my breath away, like a car crash! Just one question. I don’t believe in “supernatural” any more. Is that heresy? The more I read about evolutionary biology and ponder on its implications for an evolutionary chistology, the more it seems to me that from the sub atomic to the cosmic scale, natural creativity, interconnectivity, communication networks, diversity, regeneration: have it all in hand. Thus the concept of ’super-nature’ is a tautology. I hope humanity can redeem itself, so that homo sapiens can continue to evolve into communities of healing and peace, but if not, then the infinite impulse will mourn the suffering and loss, but life is’ immortal and love is eternal’ (Bede Jarret) Resurrection goes on in the now, on the cusp of creating the future. Many thanks for your website. People like me need your company and inspiration. Patricia
Patricia Devlin
Monasterevin, co.Kildare.Ireland, AK
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