He was the first truly evolutionary theologian. He publicly sought to reunite science and religion. What has become embraced by many was first lauded by this man, and like most geniuses, he was not understood and was even ridiculed at the time. I have just learned of him today and I am utterly mesmerized. Consider this:
The conflict dates from the day when one man, flying in the face of appearance, perceived that the forces of nature are no more unalterably fixed in their orbits than the stars themselves. But that their serene arrangements around us depicts the flow of a tremendous tide. The day in which the first voice rang out, crying to mankind peacefully slumbering on the raft of earth, “We are moving! We are going forward.” It is a pleasant and dramatic spectacle, that of mankind divided to its very depths into two irrevocably opposed camps, one looking toward the horizon and proclaiming with all its newfound faith, “We are moving!” and the other without shifting its position obstinately maintaining, “Nothing changes. We are not moving at all.”
To quote my friend Steven Baxter, “Holy shit you guys!” This is amazing. It makes me want to go out in the street and yell, “We are moving!” It is a revelation and a truth that stirs my soul. This is not how it ends. The beginning was just that the beginning and the whole of humanity and creation and time and space is moving. Isn’t that exciting? We started out moving and we are still moving. Lovelies, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I think our new friend might even take that a step further and say, “The arc of the entire [moral, spiritual, relational, emotional, physical] universe is long and it moves toward justice [all things made right].” I believe this with all my heart. It makes me feel alive.
I was having a talk with my friend Josh Mitchell the other day about tattoos and we were saying how if either of us were to get a tattoo that it would have to be words. Words that meant something. Words that were personal. Words we didn’t want to forget. Today, if I had to pick, I might choose, “We are moving!”
Jesus was continually pointing people toward the future. He called it, “The Kingdom of Heaven“. The teaching carried with it the idea of already but not yet. Jesus had come, history and evolution and movement had brought people to the moment of being brought face to face with Jesus. Both man and God, he declared that the Kingdom of heaven was at hand and that also it was yet to come. More movement, more evolution, was and is required.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
This post is part one of a review series I am starting. I will be reviewing Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith. Each of the 7 sessions is 20 minutes long, and I will be writing one post about each session. After viewing session 1, I am very excited to be sharing this experience with you. The makers of the series, Living the Questions, produced the series in order to celebrate and explore the promise of evolutionary Christian spirituality.
The first session begins with the suggestion that like tectonic plates, the realms of evolution, religion and science often butt up against each other causing philosophical earthquakes, tsunamis and dramatic changes in the intellectual and spiritual landscape. Ironically, this is an evolution all its own. When some new reality in science collides with our beliefs about God, religion and the origins of the world, “something must eventually give way or merge” in order for a new landscape to emerge.
Evolution. What immediately comes to mind when you hear that word? Biology? Survival of the fittest? Charles Darwin? The big bang? What about personal, psychological, emotional, relational, culture, language, belief systems, political and economic systems? When we think about these areas, we find evolution is simply a fundamental universal reality.
This video series proposes to address how people of faith can engage difficult questions about science and faith in ways that decrease conflict and may even benefit us with new and challenging understandings. Questions like:
How are Christians who work in the disciplines of the sciences and technology able to accommodate and even embrace evolution?
Is the voice of the Scriptures somehow diminished by descriptions of a cosmology that no longer serves?
Is the Genesis story of creation voided by descriptions of a creation no longer seen as complete but rather driven by evolutionary processes that embody randomness and mortality, mutation and adaptation? Or is the Genesis story deepened each time we discover more and more about our universe, about the amazing complexity of species and life that live on this planet?
How can people of faith engage such questions in ways that decrease conflict and even may benefit by new and challenging understandings?
The session titles are:
- Toward Healing the Rift
- A Renaissance of Wonder
- Getting Genesis Wrong
- An Evolving Faith
- Evolutionary Christianity
- Imagining a Future
- An Evolving Spirituality: Mysticism
The DVD series features over a dozen leading theologians and progressive thinkers including:
- Philip Clayton
- Michael Dowd
- Rachel Held Evans
- Matthew Fox
- Catherine Keller
- Megan McKenna
- Michael Morwood
- Jan Phillips
- Barbara Rossing
- Bruce Sanguin
- Bernard Brandon Scott
- John Shelby Spong
- Gretta Vosper
To learn more about Living the Questions, Painting the Stars or to purchase the DVD, click here.