From a biblical perspective, of course, the whole point of the universe is to manifest God's glory, 25 but for the present God's glory is revealed characteristically in a kenosis that endows the world with a surprising degree of autonomy. The self-emptying God refrains from overwhelming the universe with an annihilating divine presence, but in the mode of futurity nonetheless constantly nourishes the world by offering to it a range of relevant new possibilities--such as those depicted by evolutionary science. At the same time God's compassionate embrace redemptively enfolds and preserves everlastingly each moment of the cosmic evolutionary story.
Thus in theology's conversations with contemporary science, it is more helpful to think of God as the infinitely generous ground of new possibilities for world-becoming than as a designer or planner who has mapped out the world in every detail from some indefinitely remote point in the past. The fundamental difficulty implied in the notion of such a plan for the world is that it closes the world off from any real future. Referring to some often overlooked ideas of Henri Bergson, Louise Young insightfully comments on the openness of evolution to the future:
As we view the groping, exploratory nature of the process--the many favorable mutations, the tragic deformities--it is apparent that we are not witnessing the detailed accomplishment of a preconceived plan. "Nature is more and better than a plan in course of realization," Henri Bergson observed. "A plan is a term assigned to a labor: it closes the future whose form it indicates. Before the evolution of life, on the contrary, the portals of the future remain wide open. . . ."26
We might also say that God is more and better than a planner. A God whose very essence is to be the world's open future is not a planner or designer, but an infinitely liberating source of new possibilities and new life. It seems to me that neo-Darwinian biology can live quite comfortably within the horizon of such a vision of ultimate reality.
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Publication information: Book title: Science and Theology:The New Consonance. Contributors: Ted Peters - Editor. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 241.
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