Surfing the Evolutionary Waves of Cosmic Energy
Becoming is the mode of activity of the uncreated God. --Hermes
In the bosom of Time, God-without-beginning becomes what He has never been in all eternity. --Angelus Silesius
We've posted on the subject of the needlessly ambivalent relationship between evolution and Christianity on a number of occasions. Again, it poses no problem for (small o) orthodox Christians, for whom it is mostly a big "whatever." However, a question nevertheless remains, which is to say, how does it all fit together and work out in practice, not just theory? In other words, what is the relationship between the theology and the science?
Many scientists and religious believers (including countless scientific believers) know that there can be no real conflict between religion and science. But this is like saying there can be no conflict between mind and matter. True enough, but we'd still like to know how it all works.
As I mentioned somewhere in my book, I had no interest in using science to try to prove the existence of God, at least after some initial research that settled the issue to my satisfaction. Rather, since I already knew that God existed, I wanted to understand what the universe had to be like, given God's existence. Much more interesting question. This approach only makes sense, because God is obviously not limited or constrained by science, but science is quite obviously constrained by God.
In ether worlds, nothing can happen in the word of science that is inconsistent with the existence of God. To cite one prominent example that comes to us via quantum physics, if this were a Newtonian universe of logical atomism -- i.e., a cosmos of completely disconnected parts -- that ontology would be radically inconsistent with the existence of the immanent God. To put it another way, the infinite sea of quantum potential is a kind of exteriorized mirror image of God's interior.
Yesterday I linked to this article, noting that the Vatican maintains that the theory of evolution is fully compatible with the Bible: "In 1950, Pope Pius XII described evolution as a valid scientific approach to the development of humans, a view that was reiterated by Pope John Paul II in 1996."
The article continues: "Creationism is the belief that God created the world and all life in six days as described in the Bible. The Catholic Church does not read the Genesis account of creation literally, saying it is an allegory for the way God created the world. The Catholic Church teaches 'theistic evolution,' a stand that accepts evolution as a scientific theory and sees no reason why God could not have used a natural evolutionary process in the forming of the human species. It objects to using evolution as the basis for an atheist philosophy that denies God's existence or any divine role in creation. It also objects to using Genesis as a scientific text."
Now, I realize that I have some so-called "fundamentalist" readers who read the Bible literally, and I have no intention of alienating or getting into an argument with them, any more than I will argue with our Darwinian fundamentalist trolls. It goes without saying that the religious fundamentalist is infinitely closer to ultimate truth than the Darwinian fundamentalist, in that at least the religious fundamentalist does not absurdly and beclowningly deny the Absolute. But I think you have to concede that no one reads the Bible literally, unless you really believe that Christ is a door or that Peter is a rock.
Where the metaphysical Darwinist absurdly denies the Absolute, the religious fundamentalist either denies or devalues the relative. This topic is covered in detail in chapter two of Perry's On Awakening & Remembering: To Know is to Be, entitled The Twin Pitfalls of Fanaticism and Relativism, and perhaps we'll get into that later. The point is, what we call "fundamentalism" is a modern and even postmodern deviation from integral truth. In fact, I believe it can be seen as a kind of irrational overreaction to the demonic relativism of postmodernism, into an inverted mirror image of irrational "absolutism." But genuine absolutism always makes room for the relative, since it is the prolongation of the vertical into the horizontal -- which is precisely why religion is such a gas, and why we have so much more fun down here than the pagans.
As Chesterton noted, one reason to become Christian is that it represents a superior philosophy, not just theology. Therefore, there shouldn't be anything in it that doesn't make an appeal to our intellect; or, to put it another way, our intellect (and remember, this refers to the higher mind, not the ego) should be able to find its rest in Christian theology.
And it should accomplish this not by obliterating, escaping, or compartmentalizing the relative, but illuminating it "from above" in an entirely new way. I can only speak for mysoph, in that this is certainly how it was for me. Again, I was coonvicted by my intellect, not by a crisis, or a need to fit in, or by virtue of being born into a certain predigested worldview. Christianity is simply a much deeper and intellectually satisfying philosophy than any form of materialism, including of course metaphysical Darwinism, which unexplains much more than it can ever explain about man as such.
But for the same reason, I am opposed to anything that would make Christianity look like a foolish or inadequate philosophy. I consider that to be a kind of sin against the Holy Spirit. Anyone who has had to overcome a bad case of Jesus Willies will know exactly what I mean. My inability to embrace Christianity earlier in my life was not only a matter of pride, nor only a result of the ubiquitous distortions and intellectual dishonesty of the radical secularists.
Rather, there was a considerable amount of stupidity -- and therefore spiritual darkness -- in the forms of Christianity to which I was exposed, and which would have required an absence of self-respect on my part in order to embrace. And lack of self-respect is not the same as humility. True, one must enter it as a child. But that is again a very different thing from being childish. Humility is merely objectivity toward the self. Thus, one can both over- and underestimate the human station in general and oneself in particular. Always remember that we are in the image of the Creator. That's saying a lot. It has many more implications than you may realize, for it means that a certain kind of rigorously applied introspection can reveal the nature of God (not in himself, of course, but in reflected or analogous way).
Anyway. Let's get down to details. We begin with the axiom that the world is created. But who created it, and of what is it created? It is (note the present tense) created by a conscious being out of conscious energy, which it must be. Now, we can argue over the nature of this conscious energy, but not with a physicist, because they concede up front that they have no earthly idea what it is. They can believe whatever they want, but it will be a matter of faith. The question is whether the faith is warranted or misplaced. And if you are nothing but a Darwinian replicating machine, it's a pretty safe bet that your faith in yourself is wholly unwarranted.
The cosmos is not necessary, but contingent. It did not have to be, and yet it is. Therefore, its existence is a result of freedom, or a free act. Which, by the way, is where all this glorious freedom comes from, in case you didn't know. But for a Christian, it goes a little deeper than that, because freedom itself is neither here nor there. Rather, as Ware points out, while "God created the universe by an act of free will," "Nothing compelled him to create; he chose to do so. The world was not created unintentionally or out of necessity; it is not an automatic emanation or overflowing from God, but the consequence of a divine choice."
But I don't think that is quite accurate. I would tweak the language just a bit, to say that the world may not have been automatic, but it was nevertheless inevitable, given the divine nature. The divine nature being what it is, it could not help but radiate and communicate the Good, the True, and the Beautiful -- just like a beautiful human soul who radiates truth and decency. As above, so below. The point is, the cosmos is completely unnarcissary, just like the Creator. He's a giver.
Therefore, freedom and creativity inevitably bear upon love. As Ware writes, "In so far as such a question admits of an answer..., God's motive in creation is his love. Rather than say he created the universe out of nothing, we should say that he created it out of his own self, which is love.... Creation is an act not so much of his free will as of his free love."
This is something I attempted to make plainly obscure in the opening and closing and reopening pages of the Coonifesto. As Ware writes, "The circle [get it? Circle?] of divine love has not remained closed. God's love is, in a literal sense, 'ecstatic' -- a love that causes God to go out from himself and create things other than himself." This is the famous love that removes the sin and other scars, speaking Allighierically. It is also of course what Petey means on pages 13-14, where the One "falls in love with the productions of time, hurtling higgledy-piggledy into jivass godlings and samskara monsters (Boo!) all the way down." The point is, this free act of divine love is necessarily going to result in both maya and monsters, more on which later. The monsters can't be helped, for there is no one Good but the One. Yes, goddinpottys are inevitable, and in their own perverse way proclaim the existence of God.
Here is another subtle point that I attempted to make clear in the book. The events described in my huge mythunderstanding are not of the past -- which can only be located in the horizontal -- but in the present, or the vertical now, in which the divine energies perpetually flow into Creation (failure to heed this distinction is, I believe, a central fallacy of religious and scientistic fundamentalists, who both deny the ceaseless vertical activity of the atemporal now). Thus, as Ware points out,
"Creation is continual. If we are to be accurate when speaking of creation, we should use not the past tense but the continuous present. We should say, not 'God made the world, and me in it,' but 'God is making the world, and me in it, here and now, at this moment and always.' Creation is not an event in the past, but is a relationship to the present."
Which is why you are called (i.e., it is your summa voc-ation) to live your life with love and creativity, or even "creative love," which is again to be a proper mirror and image of the Creator. Or, to quote Augustine, "Creation precisely affirms a principle of origin, but not necessarily a principle of duration.... God is before the world of duration, yet the word 'before' does not mean a priority of time, but of eternity...."
Again: God's creative activity is in the present, as the roaring torrent of eternity perpetually pours into the little channel of time. This is what Toots Mondello meant when he made the cryptic and easily misunderstood comment that the life of the Raccoon involves "channel surfing." Or at least that's how we interpret it today. In fact, I'm surfing that eternal wave right now, as it channels into cyberspace.
Man was introduced last among existent things, as a natural bond between the extremes of the whole through his own parts, and bringing into unity in his own person those things which by nature are far distinct from each other. Drawing all things out of their former division and bringing them united to God..., he finally reaches the goal of the sublime ascent... --Maximus the Confessor
Aboard a tidal wave
Come about hard and join
The young and often spring you gave
I heard the word
A children's song... --Brian the Surfer