Mason is the strangest and most wonderful cat I’ve ever known. As a rescued kitten he was thin and little with ears so big we affectionately called him “Bat Cat”. When we took him to the vet for food allergies we discovered that he was a Black Oriental. He has the lean body of a Siamese but is as black as night. He chatters non-stop, is highly strung, playful, curious, gentle, and loyal. We love him so much!
His breed is a hybrid of Siamese and Burmese which makes him living example of evolution at work. There are very few people who do not accept that such evolutionary processes operate in our world. The only thing we debate is the extent of those processes and what they mean.
Recently evolution has become a touchstone in the conflict between faith and science. Too many people in organised religious communities feel forced to choose between religion and science. But what if the creative, life-giving force that we call evolution is just another name for God?
THE TWIN FORCES OF LIFE AND DEATH
In the language of faith, God works primarily through three dominant forces: Life, Death, and Love. In the Bible Life is related to resurrection, which is a life that transcends death, and which cannot be experienced without a death first. Life and Death are twin forces working together, as seen in these verses:
- I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit. John 12:24 (CEB)
- If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. Matthew 16:25 (NLT)
In evolutionary terms, Life and Death are viewed the same way. For evolution to occur, parents must pass their genes on to their offspring and then die, making space for new generations to pass their genes on all the way down the line. This allows for subtle mutations and variations to replicate and be passed down. Some will disappear quickly. Others will be useful and will be strengthened and magnified. But, without generations of birth and death, neither the life of a species nor of the universe could continue to grow and thrive.
THE FORCE OF LOVE
The second way that God works, according to the language of faith, is through the force of Love. So central is this to our understanding of God that the New Testament boldly states that “God IS love.” (1 John 4:8). The entire story of Jesus’ life is portrayed as God’s divine love being reflected and channeled through this one human life and death in a unique way.
In evolutionary terms, scientists observe that the universe evolves into increasingly complex relationships. The drive to connect (love), both to procreate and to create communities, is so strong that many evolutionists now speak of the ‘Genial Gene’ (as opposed to Richard Dawkins’ concept of the ‘Selfish Gene’).
GOD AS EVOLUTION?
At the heart of the work of God, and at the heart of the evolutionary process, are these three intertwined forces:
- The creative force of Life,
- Twinned with the self-giving force of Death,
- The connecting force of Love.
If God is a verb, as Richard Rohr states, then perhaps it’s not too much of a stretch to think of that God-verb as the force of life, death, and love that drives the evolutionary process forward, creating life, universes, and even us.
What do you think? Is this too different from what religion teaches for you? Is this intriguing? How could thinking of God like this expand your spirituality? Leave your thoughts in the comments.
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