God and/of evolution …

Sister Joan Chittister writes a provocative reflection on God and evolution, and on the God of evolution, here. (Thanks Mike Todd!) There are strong resonances between what Joan is saying and what my upcoming book explores. Most of us grew up learning about the God of Laws, the God who made sense in Sir Isaac Newton’s mechanistic universe. (Nothing expressed this contextualization better than the little booklet “Four Spiritual Laws,” which could have been called “Four Spiritual Mechanisms.”) Now, we are struggling to imagine a bigger God, a God who makes sense in the evolutionary universe of Darwin, Einstein, LeMaitre, Hubble, Heisenberg, and Kuhn … Here’s how Joan expresses it …
(after the jump)

… Instead, the God of creation becomes the God of ongoing creation, of life intent on its own development, and of life involved in contributing to its own emerging form.
From this perspective, creation, life itself, is a work in process. It grows from one stage to another. It is immersed in both possibility and mistakes. It is a creature of imagination on the way to the unimaginable. The God of grand but hidden designs becomes the God of evolution, of the working out of creation as we go. Suddenly free will, the choices we make as we labor at the project of life, becomes important. Decision-making becomes universally significant, and selection of our actions determines the shape of an ongoing evolving world.
A self-creating universe becomes co-creator with the humble God who shares power and waits for the best from us and provides for what we need to make it happen. We become participants in the process of life and the development of the world that is not so much planned as it is enabled. As nature grows, experiments, unfolds, selects and adapts, so then must we. Growth, not perfection, becomes the purpose of life. Ongoing creation, not predestined fate, becomes the purpose of life.

I’m especially stuck by Joan’s use of the word “provides” in the previous passage. The doctrine of divine providence in Sir Isaac Newton’s world often could be reduced to divine control or puppetry … but in this new context, divine providence suggests something far richer, far subtler, and – to me at least – far more beautiful: divine generosity, divine provision, divine resourcing, divine empowerment. That gives us not only a different image of God, but also of ourselves. You might try living within that universe – and that vision of God – today. I know I will be doing so.