Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. – Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Thomas Jay Oord - What Kind of Universe Should We Expect?

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    [The Universe Exhibits]
    Precisely the Properties We Should Expect If…

    by Thomas Jay Oord



    We know Richard Dawkins for his provocative claims. After examining both simple and complex life, Oxford’s former Professor for Public Understanding of Science reaches this conclusion:

    The universe has “precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pointless indifference.” - Richard Darwkins

    Because he’s an atheist, it’s no surprise Dawkins thinks the universe is without ultimate meaning. As a biologist, he points to randomness, suffering, and evolutionary dead ends to support his view. As an observer of history, he points to harm religious people and institutions sometimes cause.

    But does science require us to reject God? Or consider life meaningless?

    Another British intellectual, William Paley, offers a different conclusion. Because of the design he observes in the universe, Paley says there must be Something “more than what we see… amongst the invisible things of nature, there must be an intelligent mind concerned in its production, order, and support.”

    For Paley, design points to God. Some contemporary biologists agree, especially those who believe life to be intelligently designed. Many believers in God say what seems disordered, ugly, purposeless, and evil is not so. From God’s perspective, it’s all part of a divine blueprint.

    Does theology require us to reject disorder, randomness, and evil in nature? 

    Many people feel they must choose between science and theology. They must choose between a scientific view that says existence is purposeless, meaningless, and ultimately random. Everything’s up for grabs. Or they can choose a theological view that says everything is part of a divine plan. It’s all what God wants.

    But must we choose between “everything’s up for grabs” and “it’s all what God wants?”

    Let me offer a third alternative. It looks at research in the natural and social sciences and at our experiences in everyday life. From these observations, this alternative concludes that some occurrences in life have purpose. Others do not. Sometimes we see good, and love wins. Other times, we encounter genuine evil. Some events are random; others are intentional. And so on. 

    Instead of thinking it’s all meaninglessness or meaningful, random or ordered, good or evil, the third alternative says we live in a both/and universe.

    What kind of God creates a both/and universe? 

    In my view, a both/and universe points to a God who creates and loves in uncontrolling ways. To put it another way, an omnipresent Spirit acts in the universe without controlling anyone or anything.

    In widely diverse ways, this uncontrolling Spirit lures, calls, and woos creation toward goodness, beauty, and order. This Spirit wants the well-being of all. It offers specific purposes to each entity, creature, or world without singlehandedly determining any. 

    The genuine evil, ugliness, and pointless death we witness are not part of a predetermined divine plan. Evolutionary dead-ends are not necessary evils pre-orchestrated by a God outside the flow of history. Pandemics, cancer, and moral evils are not part of a divine blueprint. Evil is evil from our perspective and God’s.

    This uncontrolling Spirit inspires creaturely acts of goodness, truth, beauty, and love. “Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above,” as St. James puts it. But creation plays a necessary role in whether goodness becomes a reality. God always works for well-being, but God can’t secure it alone. Creatures may not cooperate with this work. Or the conditions of inanimate creation may not align for goodness, beauty, and order to manifest.

    From an uncontrolling love perspective, the world we observe makes sense. Both order and disorder, design and chaos, good and evil will be features of a world God creates but cannot control. The world we study is consonant with believing an uncontrolling God creates.

    So… what kind of God fits what science tells us and the world we experience? It’s a complex question with many nuances. Good and wise people have different intuitions and different answers. 

    I think the best insights of science and everyday life point to a God who loves everyone and everything but can’t control anyone or anything. A Spirit of love acts in our universe and every universe that might exist.

    Let me close by changing Richard Dawkins’s words. In my view:

    "The universe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, a loving but uncontrolling God who creates and interacts with all creatures, great and small, and all creation, simple and complex." - Thomas Jay Oord

    - TJO

    * * * * * * * * * * *




    What Is Love And Why It’s Essential To Understanding The Universe


    God Acts And Calls All Creation,
    From The Simplest To The Most Complex,
    To Diverse Expressions
    Of Love, Beauty, And Well-Being.

    - Thomas Jay Oord


    Some have claimed God creates through love, because God is love. The argument sometimes considers love an energy, some “stuff,” desire, relationship, or well-being. Diverse love proposals confuse, because love is understood variously. In this Zoom webinar, I begin by looking at various ways humans have understood love on the way to offering my own definition that incorporates what I think are the positive aspects of the diverse understandings. Building from this, I argue for a love-centered beginning to the universe, in which God creates but not from nothing.

    Believing God creates, calls, and empowers others without controlling anyone or anything provides an answer to the problem of evil. I call this answer “the uncontrolling love of God” view. It helps make sense of evolutionary puzzles like species dead ends (extinction) and surplus killing among various species today. I believe God acts and calls all creation, from the simplest to the most complex, to diverse expressions of love, beauty, and well-being. We live in an open and relational universe and world in which an open and relational God loves as a genuine participant.

    This perspective guides my view of the future as well. I close by offering a “relentless love” view of life beyond bodily death. In this view, God does not damn anyone to eternal conscious torment but also never forces anyone to eternal bliss. Instead, the God of uncontrolling love continues to invite creatures to loving relationships after they die. Because this love is relentless, we have the hope but not a guarantee of universal reconciliation.

    Join us online on March 25th for an thrilling conversation with Thomas where we will a explore why love is essential to understanding the universe.


    About Thomas Jay Oord

    Thomas Jay Oord, Ph.D., is a theologian, philosopher, and scholar of multi-disciplinary studies. Oord directs the Center for Open and Relational Theology and doctoral students at Northwind Theological Seminary. He is an award-winning author and has written or edited more than twenty-five books. A gifted speaker, Oord lectures at universities, conferences, churches, and institutions. He is known for his contributions to research on love, science and religion, open and relational theology, the problem of suffering, and the implications of freedom for transformational relationships. Website: thomasjayoord.com