An interesting post by one of my favorite theologians whose guest writer pretty much says what we've been saying during this past year's investigation into Science and Evolution, Human Origins, the Universe, even Narrative Theology and Emergent Christianity's focus on "Love Wins"! Each are major sidebars in this blogsite which I will reference throughout Bev Mitchell's guest article on the story of mankind, the story of God, His divine acts and almighty purposes! Amen and Amen!
R.E. Slater (res)
August 6, 2012
red highlights = links to other articles in this blogsite
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A guest post (the biblical story of God and us that includes evolution) from a frequent visitor here
by Roger Olson
August 5, 2012
Homo Sapiens (Naturalis) and The Creator-servant’s Universe-The Revelation:
The Biblical Story of God and Us in Brief
By Bev Mitchell
Homo Sapiens (Naturalis)
Homo Sapiens, the ones who know, the conscious ones, the self-conscious ones. We sense that we are on a journey, that we have a story and are in a story, that we are part of that story [e.g., cf. "Narrative Theology" - res]. We know in our conscious selves that we have come from somewhere and are going somewhere. We resist the thought that our conscious self will one day end. We refuse to really believe this. Self consciousness, self awareness act like powerful lenses that focus us on …. well, ourselves. We are not only self conscious, we are naturally, unavoidably, self-centered. This is perfectly natural, even essential in a material setting.
We, the conscious ones, are aware of life. An amazing thing, life. Think about it. Consider the energy required to make life possible – start with the energy of the sun. Those energized packets (photons) arriving in waves from the sun, specifically those in a narrow energy band called visible light, making life possible. Photosynthesis organizes carbon, present in the air as carbon dioxide, into carbon-based life. All life, as we know it, is carbon based. Consider the word ‘organize’. The only way to organize anything is to put in energy, continuously. It is fundamentally a battle against entropy (disorder), relentless entropy. To win against entropy requires a continuous flow of energy and efficient management of that energy. As far as we know, this battle has been going on from the time something was first organized – from the first moment that chaos was challenged, and it will continue as long as entropy makes disorder a possibility.
Our consciousness also makes us aware of the other-others like us, others not like us, others not at all like us. Beings. Living things, with an existence, beneficiaries of those sunny photons and photosynthesis and efficient energy management, but apparently not self-conscious. At least not in a way that allows the kind of communication we would like to have. But part of the family of living things nevertheless. It’s really quite amazing when you stop to think about it. [sic, cf. "Eusociality," - res]
Our awareness of a journey, of a story there somewhere, also moves our minds beyond life, to before life, to afterlife. A bit of a scary thought that second one. But just try not thinking about it for very long, I dare you. While we are naturally self-centered, we have a strong sense that …………… I won’t presume to say what your strong sense is, but I am prepared to bet that you have one.
So, here we sit, conscious, amazed, self-centered, unsatisfied. Maybe if we just get busy we can ignore that last bit. After all, there is so much to do, so much to learn. It’s even a full-time job just keeping entropy at bay in our own little corner. What keeps us very busy should satisfy us, right? And then there is this self-centeredness, kind of cozy really, maybe it’s even all about me. That would be satisfying, wouldn’t it? If only I could get everyone, everything, else to agree. Damn!
Meanwhile, the universe continues to spin, to evolve. Much stays the same, but, if we pay attention, much is changing. We can’t conclude or pretend, like our recent ancestors did, that things are essentially wrapped up. The story is moving. We are conscious of this movement, we are conscious of the passage of time, we are conscious of a direction in the movement, we want to know what the movement is about, what is behind it, what is its purpose, where are we going? Enter religious thoughts, theories, speculations, disagreements, battles……..
Religious awareness first comes from our self-centeredness, and may never move beyond ourselves, may remain entirely on the human plane, and may be thought of in material or spiritual terms, or both. This kind of religious thought and activity is essentially like all other complex thinking and activity, it’s entirely self-centered. It’s probably even adaptive, in the Darwinian sense. Such is the state of Homo Sapiens before some revelation from God. Some revelation from the One who makes all this highly organized universe possible, a reality, brings it into existence and sustains it. [cf, Tim Keller's quote of the Christian philosopher Peter van Inwagen's statement for God's inclusion of mankind's religious belief into the human genetic structure from early on. - res]
To continue with the story, some revelation from God is absolutely essential.
The Creator/Servant’s Universe -The Revelation
This universe came into existence in the face of a spiritual rebellion against God’s will. Our creator is waging a cosmic battle against rebellion, chaos, disorder and confusion – a physicist would say, a battle against entropy. Maximum entropy equals maximum disorder. There is a spiritual battle, a rebellion against God, that comes from a great deceiver who wants only chaos and darkness (Rev 12:7-9). In the first verses of the Bible we see God’s response to chaos, darkness and emptiness – he simply and powerfully says “Let there be light.” This is the first bit of evidence that our Creator, through divine love, will win because he is the one God, YHWH, and in response to his first command we are told “there was light.” This work will be completed as our Creator’s perfect masterpiece when rebellion is no more and the Son of God, the resurrected Man-God, reigns supreme in perfect love. [cf. "The Origin of Sin, Hell, and Universalism," - res]
Our Creator is neither a God of the gaps nor a God of the zaps nor the grand tweaker. The vast majority of the gaps left by current scientific work will be filled in, so these are ultimately embarrassing places to shelter our understanding of God’s mighty acts. As for imagining a God who ‘zaps’ things into existence (or out of existence) this only reveals our sad desire for magic. At least, we should expect our Creator to behave in a more interesting manner. More recent proposals that God deems evolution a reasonable way to get to our present world, but reserves the right to tweak things along the way, don’t really capture the big picture of an immensely great God either.
According to the growing mountain of scientific evidence, God does indeed work in far more interesting ways. The observable universe studied by physicists and cosmologists is unfolding, and has been unfolding for 13.7 billion years. The living world that biologists explore is constantly changing, and it has been changing for more than 3.5 billion years, with no end in sight. Furthermore, all living things are related; none have been found that don’t belong to the same big family. Now that is the work of a very interesting Creator. No zaps, no gaps, except those due to our lack of knowledge, and tweeks unnecessary.
The evolving cosmos and the evolving bios to which we belong are clearly works in progress; not independently either, but part of a huge, long-term, unfolding masterpiece. And amazingly, all of the participants are part of the process. All are unfolding in relation to everything else in an unimaginable, magnificent symphony. If, on our own, we tried to imagine how a Creator might operate, we would never come up with this – it’s way beyond us. We would probably imagine something more like a grand zapper who controls everything. It’s a good thing we weren’t asked for advice on the method to use! We were just given the opportunity to participate and ended up with the blessed ability to appreciate the results, the ongoing results.
It turns out that our Creator doesn’t stop creating. It’s also obvious that he is not in a hurry. At 13.7 billion and counting, we probably have a while to go. Diversity and change also seem to be high on the Creator’s list of good things. It seems, as well, that our Creator is more than a little interested in us. We can’t reach him, but he reaches us in self-revelation. His works in the natural world certainly get our attention, but he actually comes to us, first through Israel, the chosen nation, then in person, the new Adam. The creator actually becomes a creature.
We have noticed, all of us, that we have serious problems with what Scriptures call the ‘knowledge of good and evil’. Having this knowledge, like Israel having the law, makes us acutely aware that knowing the difference between good and evil but is of little help in actually doing good. We are born failures at doing good, far too often. We expect points for trying, but basically we lack something fundamental when it comes to being good the way we know we should – in ways that will please a holy God.
Enter the Creator become Creature. Since he is making everything in perfect love, he knows a thing or two about always doing the right thing. The Creator’s physical presence among us, is a unique, once-in-a-creation event – what scientists refer to as a singularity. In fact, from a Christian perspective, the singularity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, the God-man, is the very heart of creation as well as the essential beginning of the Gospel. He is the apex of creation while also being the one through whom creation flows. This Creator we worship is truly interesting beyond our imagining!
Then, because of our inborn inability to deal with the temptation to not do the right thing, and the resulting dysfunction and horror this brings to our world, our Creator as Servant voluntarily suffers with us. In fact, suffers maximally and ultimately, participating even in death for us. But our Creator/Servant did nothing that should lead to death, he accepted it on our behalf – a willing sacrifice. Then, our Creator/Servant, in a glorious continuance of his very interesting creative work, rose from the dead in a glorified body – a victorious King. Scriptures call him the ‘first-born’ from among the dead because he is indeed a new creation – the Creator/Servant/Perfect Sacrifice/King, our Lord.
This resurrected Lord now takes up residence with the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and looses the Spirit, the very Spirit of Creation, upon the earth for our edification, guidance and empowerment. As we have been through all of time, we are called to continue with our own role in creation, now under the guidance of this Spirit of Creation. The Creator is not done yet. He keeps making moves that are more and more interesting. Now we are called to get on with the good over evil thing, but with the Spirit of Creation within us, because, in Christ, we too are new creations. Not completed yet, but, as with all of creation, works in progress.
This great, ongoing and ever more interesting creation story needs to be told. The Spirit of Creation within us moves us to tell the story, with boldness. The treasure we have within is a treasure to tell people about. It’s all connected. It has been going on for 13.7 billion years. We are a part of it simply by being born, and as Christian believers we are a part of it with a wonderful new re-birth and a new role. We have been given Good News to tell to the whole world. The Creator, Immanuel, has come to us. The Creator, Jesus the Saviour, has redeemed humanity. By repenting from our self-centeredness and acknowledging the work and centrality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we can live and grow in him as he lives and grows in us. Ultimately, we shall behold him and we shall be like him. We will then know him as he is. His love will have won! [yes, "Love Wins." - res]
Bev Mitchell, Doaktown, NB, Oaxaca, MX The Creator/Servant’s Universe April 19, 2012 modified May 2 and 9, 2012 Homo sapiens (naturalis) added May 11, 2012
For further discussion on Human Origins & Evolution see -
How God Created by Evolution:
A Proposed Theory of Man's Evolutionary Development