Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Evolution, Why Does it Matter?

I return to considering the works of Teilhard de Chardin.  His two best-known books are: The Phenomenon of Man (renamed The Human Phenomenon in a newer translation), it is his scientific treatise on the evolution of the earth and the human species; and The Divine Milieu, his mystic understanding of the God-humanity relationship.  A scientist and a Jesuit, his life was devoted to reconciling science and religion, the two seemingly conflicting paths for understanding who and what we are.

Science shows evolution to be the underlying principle of all that is; Teilhard fully accepts the reality of evolution and that it is God’s great plan, filled with meaning and purpose.  He has identified the ‘law of complexity-consciousness’ as the pattern that gives direction to evolution.  In that observable pattern, over eons, life progressed from single-cell entities to ultimately reach the purpose inherent from the beginning: the emergence of the human, a complex being created in God’s image possessing consciousness, thought and feeling, free will, creativity and the ability to love.  Teilhard refers to the evolutionary process as a ‘genesis’, a vast coming to be.

Full consciousness in the human species is not some random ‘surprise happening’; it is God’s intended goal for evolution.  Throughout, as organisms became more complex, simultaneously consciousness increased until, with the human, reflective awareness emerged with the birth of thought.  More than a change in degree, it was a change in nature to a new species.  With thought came the freedom to choose (free will) and responsibility for the direction chosen for the future.  As we advance in our ability to control and direct, it is clear that those abilities can have both wonderfully positive and horribly negative consequences.  We have yet to realize our world is one interacting/interdependent unit that stands in danger of self-destruction.

The search for knowledge and understanding has proceeded haphazardly without clear belief in a direction or goal . . . science and religion have argued over the preeminence of the world vs. God; science—in its arrogance—has suggested there is ONLY world and God is illusion.  Mystics of all traditions have recognized a link between God and world.

The poem in my previous entry is about the God-human relationship, co-creating a world on planet earth.
The wonder and order of the Universe; the intricate balance of the elements of our earth that support unexplainable, inexplicable life is proof to me of God . . . random chance cannot justify that level of order and balance—so I believe in the mystery that gave rise to such wonder and call the Mystery, God.  God prepared us to encounter life together and gave us the freedom to shape our world.  I can’t understand or explain God, but I’m convinced that we were given what we need and God has sprinkled humanity’s search for wisdom with clues that lead us toward understanding the why and who we are and our place in the great mystery of life. 

One of God’s ‘sprinkled clues’ as to our self-identity is found in the process we witness daily in observing human development from embryo to mature adult.  Begun in mysterious darkness, emerging with only primitive abilities, dependent and needing guidance, gradually discovering skills and abilities, growing into beings capable of shaping their own future.   –We’re adults now, God gave us the tools we need for survival and the rest is up to us.

I encourage you to turn back to my May 28 entry and read ‘Child is Father of the Man’ with these thoughts in mind.

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