Carl Sagan, the late, brilliant American cosmologist who died at age 62 in 1996 in his book The Dragons of Eden (1977) introduced us to the now famous cosmic clock. It was an ingenious way to telescope the 14 billion year history of the universe into a single year. At this scale the Big Bang took place on January 1 at midnight, and the current time is mapped to December 31 at midnight…
The first fact that stuns you is that we are very late newcomers on the scene. This is a humbling reality.When you discover that all of recorded history occurs in the last ten seconds before midnight.
Holy feces, Batman! check our egos at the door.
Humans from the crudest inception have been around for one-tenth of 1% of earth’s history….and Jesus is born at 11:59 and 56 seconds.Wow! And is salvation history just in the last two thousand years?
What does this do to our Creed? Our idea of God? Jesus?
This amazing story jet fueled by Darwin describes an amazing process of complexification, diversification and novelty.
Christians believe that this indeed is a wild place, unpredictable as hell.Much easier to believe in the safe landing of heaven than deal with random genetic mutation, natural selection over eons. No wonder Darwin had a breakdown knowing that the static God, the transcendent Unmoved Mover, the God unrelated to the cosmos and creation was really dead.I mean who needs a God unrelated to us, presiding over from the death and destruction inherent i natural processes and in human history
It is now obvious that the old symbol system which served us well for centuries can no longer hold our new understanding of the universe. The old wineskins have simply become porous, dried up and cracking under the strain. New wineskins are dramatically needed.
Berry’s thinking would appear to be a window into a much needed new paradigm. So far Rome has treated him as a non-person.
Diarmuid O’Murchu, another evolutionary thinker the Vatican appears to have ignored puts it this way:”At this cultural moment there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that that the boundaries of sacred space (Jerusalem, church, mosque, synagogue) and sacred word (Bible, Torah, Koran) cannot hold the spiritual energy embodied in religions”(Religion in Exile).
The Church, and in particularly the Catholic Church with its highly centralized Roman theology seems incapable now of breaking out of the fall/redemption model so beloved by fundamentalists and indeed the Vatican bureaucracy. Church documents today resemble the preacher who, when he could not convince his audience wrote down in his notes,”At this point, shout louder.” Examples are many but the following will have to suffice here. In Dominus Iesus (2000) this statement:
As an innocent lamb he merited life for us by his blood which he freely shed.. In him God reconciled us to himself and to one another freeing us from the bondage of the devil and of sin.
and from the Catholic Catechism, Adam and Eve are real people:
390 The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.
Sally McFague on the other hand is a theologian who has given the ecumenical ecological community new ways to look at God—as friend, lover, mother and embodied in the world as God’s body. This last metaphor is particularly apt for us today since it is creation-centred rather than redemption oriented. It is focused on the incarnational presence of God in nature. McFague states the obvious: how utterly holistic this way of thinking is when compared to say, God as king, judge or lord. Monarchical models like these connote distance, power, hierarchy and patriarchy. They are out of tune with our age. They say nothing to the nonhuman, sensate world. “God’s body” (and remember it is metaphor) connotes intimacy, closeness, care, nurturance and sustenance. Though not reduced solely to the Body (pantheism) God is absolutely present. This body may be poorly cared for, unattended and suffering. Vulnerable to be sure. Here the metaphor hints at the suffering love of Jesus on the cross. This is a God at risk in the evolutionary process but again, not reduced to it. One major plus for this model would be that it suggests that God loves fleshy bodies surely an antidote to the anti-sexual and negative anti-body teaching too long associated with a male celibate Catholic leadership.
Isn’t this exciting?
The biblical record with the Divine unfolding in creation and history where in Paul’s words (Romans) ‘we come to know the invisible nature” of God was merely preparing us for this New Story.
Freeman Dyson phrased it well:
The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in someone sense must have known we were coming.”