"A mistake about Creation will necessarily result in a mistake about God." — St. Thomas Aquinas
As our understanding of reality evolves and deepens, so too, naturally and inevitably, will our understanding of God's nature, God's will, God's creativity, and God's grace.
God is the Mystery at the Center of the fact that the Universe is here at all, that it is what it is, that it is always becoming and always somehow whole.
God is the Mystery at the Heart of consciousness, conscience, compassion and all the other forms of co-creative, co-incarnational responsiveness of life to life.
God is the Mysterious omni-creative Power through which the Universe is and becomes ever more intricately and wondrously itself through the interactions of all its seeming parts (each of which contains a spark of the Whole).
God planted the Universe, smaller than a mustard seed, at the center of God's own heart 14 billion years ago, and it's been expanding there ever since. Nothing happens outside the heart of God. Everything is unfolding within.
As Creation becomes more cooperative, interdependent, and complex over time, and humanity becomes more aware, interconnected, and compassionate, God is glorified.
A God who is utterly and solely outside nature (i.e., only transcendent) is impotent and inconsequential compared with a God who is both transcendent and immanent, both infinitely more than, and truly revealed in, matter itself.
Every characteristic that we attribute to God derives from our experience of the world. If we imagine God as beautiful, gracious, loving, awesome, powerful, majestic, or faithful, it is because we have known or experienced beauty, grace, love, awe, power, majesty, or trustworthiness in the world. If we lived on the moon and that's all we and our ancestors had ever known, all our concepts of the divine would reflect the barrenness of the lunar landscape.
Those who think they can love God and trash the environment, or oppress others, are blind to the immanence and omnipresence of God. No matter what one's religion or beliefs, it's simply not possible to love nature or love other human beings without also loving and honoring God.
For many people today God does not exist in any real, tangible way outside their imagination. That is, they cannot experience God physically. They cannot honor the Holy One with their senses. Such blindness to God's immanence and omnipresence inevitably leads to a trivialization of the notion and reality of God.
Any God who can be believed in or not believed in is not God. As I'm using the term, "God" is nothing less than a sacred name for Ultimate Reality, the Great "I Am" of existence — that Infinite, Supreme Love and Creativity which transcends yet includes all other forms of love and creativity. By this definition, God is nothing so trivial as a Supreme Landlord residing off the planet and outside the Universe, nor a Supreme Engineer who made a clockwork cosmos. God is either an intimate, proper name for Realty as a Whole — measurable and non-measurable, manifest and un-manifest, immanent and transcendent — or God is but a mental construct, a figment of someone's imagination.
Faith in God, if it doesn't include trusting time, trusting Reality, is not faith at all. It's merely beliefs. Experiencing love and believing in love are not the same thing. Knowing God will transform your life; believing in God is a booby prize.
A modern-day analogy that can help in conceptualizing a trinitarian understanding of God is remembering that, under different conditions, matter shows up as a solid, liquid, or gas. Ice, steam, and a glass of water look and feel like three totally different substances. But we all know that it's only conditions such as pressure and temperature that make it seem so. In fact, they are essentially one and the same.
"A God's eye view of the world" is not merely the objective, transcendent perspective — the view from above or outside nature. A God's eye view of the world also includes the subjective experience of every creature — the view looking through every set of eyes, human and non-human. What dolphins and whales see, what bats and fish see, what dragonflies and hawks see, and even what chameleons with their independently moving eyes see: all must be included in an evolutionary understanding of a God's eye view of the world.
The fact that "God is Love" means that God is also infinite Compassion. God feels the pain and suffering of all creatures from the inside.
Expecting the biblical writers to be able to give human beings for all time a full and complete picture of God, or Creation, or the gospel, is like expecting the writings of ancient Hebrew and Greek healers to be the primary texts in medical schools around the world today. Who of us would let a first-century dentist fill our teeth? Yet millions of parents let ancient theologians fill the minds of their children every week! Why? The erroneous belief that God spoke more clearly or was more actively involved in human affairs in the past than today is one reason. Another is because without a God-glorifying way of thinking about evolution and its direction, it is virtually impossible to see how the living word of God (Nature), guided by heart and reason, can serve as a solid foundation for moral instruction, ethical guidance, and Christ-like values.
Arguing over whether it was God, evolution, or the self-organizing dynamics of emergent complexity that brought everything into existence makes about as much sense as debating whether it was me, my vocal cords, or the electrical impulses of my nervous system that caused me to utter this sentence.
God may be infinitely more than Creation, but a God who is truly immanent and omnipresent cannot possibly be less than a Sacred Name for 14 billion years of creativity and grace. This isn't pantheism, or even panentheism. It's creatheism, or evolutionary theism.
THEISM: a concept popularized in the seventeenth century, meaning belief in an interventionist God. Theists generally imagine nature as a machine-like thing, an artifact made by a Supreme Being residing off the planet and outside the Universe.
DEISM: a concept popularized in the seventeenth century, meaning belief in a non-interventionist God. Deists also imagine nature as a machine-like thing, an artifact made by a Supreme Engineer residing outside time and space.
ATHEISM: a concept popularized in the seventeenth century, meaning disbelief in any sort of God or Supreme Being, interventionist or not. Atheists also imagine nature as a machine-like thing, which they believe came into being through mechanistic laws.
PANTHEISM: an ancient concept found throughout the world, re-popularized in Europe during the eighteenth century, meaning belief in a divine cosmos. Pantheists typically identify God and the Universe, and see Nature as a Supreme Being (with nothing transcending it).
PANENTHEISM (DIALECTICAL THEISM): a concept originating in the early 20th century with process philosophy, meaning belief that "God is in Creation and Creation is in God." Panentheists see Nature as a revelation or embodied expression of divinity.
CREATHEISM (EVOLUTIONARY THEISM): a concept introduced in the early 21st century, pointing to the fact (not merely a belief) that reality is nestedly creative (atoms within molecules within organisms within planets..., like nesting dolls), and that "God" is a sacred proper name for that Ultimate Reality which both includes and transcends all other realities (the largest nesting doll). Creatheism also sees Nature as a revelation or expression of divinity, and understands humanity as that aspect of Creation that allows The Whole of Reality, measurable and non-measurable, manifest and un-manifest — i.e., God — to be honored in conscious awareness.
THE TRINITY: The theological concept of "the Trinity" is an attempt in human language to express an awareness that Ultimate Reality consistently reveals itself as having three distinct faces within its One Nature: (1) The Original Power — the Self of the Cosmos — the Mystery that brought all into being and is the Great "I Am" of existence; (2) the freeing, reconciling, transforming power of self-expansive Love and Compassion; and (3) the enlivening, sustaining, sanctifying, cooperation-building dynamic of ongoing Creative Emergence.
Faithfulness to God Edit
Being faithful to anything less than The Whole of Reality is what is traditionally meant by "idolatry". Idolatry is placing your primary allegiance or loyalty in anything less than that Ultimate Creativity and Intelligence that transcends and includes all other realities. And as the following examples illustrate, the natural consequences of idolatry are almost always tragic.
Countless people and animals have suffered, lives have been lost, and ecosystems ravaged, all because of idolatry, or misplaced allegiance. Millions of Jews were exterminated because many Nazis were loyal to Hitler but not faithful to anything larger than the Third Reich. Millions of women were tortured and killed during the Inquisition because of those who were loyal to the institutional Church but not faithful to the feminine experience of life. Whenever two groups go to war, each loyal to its own leader, patriotic ideals, or perception of the divine will, we witness the logical conclusion of idolatry.
When two individuals are devoted to each other without also being faithful to and responsible for their community and their world, the results are equally, if not as dramatically, tragic. Few things place stress on the environment and our health more than trying to survive in the modern world without the emotional and physical support of extended family and real community, and without the spiritual support of the body of Life which gave us birth and continues to nurture and sustain us. Multiply this image: (mom, dad and the kids living alone in their house, with two or more cars, a nice lawn to keep up, and all the consumer items "needed" to maintain such a lifestyle) millions of times, over a period of decades, and you will understand one of the reasons why we are inadvertently consuming our planet and destroying our sense of peace and happiness in the process.
Sanity, health, and ecological sustainability (i.e., salvation) all lie in the direction of faithfulness to God (understood not merely as a Supreme Being outside the Universe, but as a sacred name for Reality as a Whole, transcendent and immanent).
"Let's Stop Trivializing God, the Universe, and Our Role in Evolution!" - foundational essay