“That deep emotional conviction of the presence of a Superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God” – Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein understood the universe in a way most of us never will, which led him to the conclusion above.
“Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is Blind.” – Albert Einstein
The more I thought about our universe, the more I studied the stimulating conceptual contributions of the new cosmology, and the relatively new field of evolutionary spirituality, the more my image of God changed. The more my image of God changed, from the angry, punishing, egocentric, anthropomorphic God, whose wrath I feared throughout my childhood and well into adulthood, the more conscious I became of my need to develop a new relationship with God. Not the expiatory God, who wants me to be remorseful for my wrongdoings or for the sins of my ancestors, but the God who created our expanding and mind-blowing universe over 14 billion years ago, and reserved a place for me on our small planet. I think the music and lyrics of this song by Keith Mesecher and The Cosmic All Stars. We are the Cosmos, expresses these thoughts and feelings much better than my word.
Before I started writing this website, I had four major sections: Faith and Beliefs, Religion and Spirituality, Social Change and Creationism and Evolution, in that order. It didn’t take me long to understand that it made more sense to put Creationism and Evolution first, because it superseded, all the other sections. I also remember thinking, Perhaps we need to rethink the many of the Doxologies used in the church’s liturgies that end with ‘…as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.’ That world view seemed rather static and out of step with the new cosmology. Perhaps Connie Barlow said it best, as quoted in Thank God for Evolution, when she described the sense of wonderment, and awe we can have when we appreciate the mystery of an ever changing and expanding universe that science has exposed in recent years.
“The more we learn about Earth and life process, the more we are in awe and the deeper the urge to revere the evolutionary forces that give time a direction and the ecological forces that sustain our planetary home.”
My interest in Creationism and Evolution has evolved (no pun intended) over the years. In the beginning (no pun intended) I accepted docilely what the good nuns and the Baltimore Catechism taught. I did have problems with the Bible’s story of how God created heaven and earth in less than a week, and how he threw Adam and Eve out because they eat an apple, but I never questioned out loud anything that I was taught. I had even more difficulty with Adam and Eve not only being thrown out of paradise, but that all of their progeny, right down to me, inherited their original and stupid sin. I was somewhat comforted when I learned that Jesus came to save me from a sin that I didn’t even commit. I appreciated that and thanked him in my daily prayers and hoped that his dying included my sins of disobedience to my parents and the fact that I stole a pack of gum from Max’s grocery store, when I was five years old. I also wondered about all those people who were born before Jesus saved us. Were they all in hell?
As I grew older, I would occasionally wonder about things like, If God created heaven and earth and everything in the sky, where I thought He lived, where did God come from? But again, I never asked the nuns who taught me for eight years in grammar school, or the Christian Brothers who taught me for four years in high school. I guess I was indoctrinated to accept everything I was taught in blind obedience, and didn’t want to upset my teachers.
I can understand how people in ancient times believed that the earth was flat. I can understand how they believed that our little planet was the center of the universe, and that the sun and stars revolved around us. I can also understand how people in ancient times believe that God created the world in six days and that he was so exhausted that he had to take the seventh day off to rest up. If I lived in those times, I’m sure I’d have the same beliefs. But even if I lived to be 150, I doubt that I could have figured out that the earth spun on its axis and revolved around the sun and there was no danger of us falling off a flat earth. Fortunately there were brilliant astronomers, physicists and mathematicians like Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543) and Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) and history didn’t need to rely on me.
In his book Galileo the Birth of Modern Science, Steven Hawkins wrote, “Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science.” Unfortunately, Galileo paid a painful price for publishing his book the Dialogue. The book was based on the work of his predecessors and his own genius in developing a more sophisticated telescope and his meticulous study of the “heavens” and proclaiming a new world view. This brought down the wrath of the Holy Roman Catholic Church because Galileo’s views of the world didn’t fit with the geocentric views of the universe cited in the Bible. After putting Galileo through the rigors of the Church’s Inquisition, he ended up under house arrest for the rest of his life. It seems to me that the church was angrier about Galileo’s contradicting the bible than they were about his fathering three children out of wedlock.
It wasn’t until 2000 that Pope John Paul II issued a “formal apology” for all the “mistakes” that the church committed against Catholics and non-Catholics in the last 2,000 years of the Catholic Church’s history, including the trial of Galileo. I’m not sure how Galileo’s relatives felt about this belated apology, but is seemed ridiculous to me, for the church to have waited for almost 500 years to admit they were wrong and Galileo was right. The “apology” was part of a sweeping acknowledgement for a number of other “mistakes” the church had made dating back to the Crusades. Speaking after the ceremony, the Pope stressed he was seeking forgiveness not from those who had been wronged, but from God. “Only he can do that.” Interesting! See the Guardian webpage that carried their version of the apology.
Later in my college years in the seminary, one of the courses I took in philosophy was Cosmology. That was in 1951, sixty years ago, way before the New Cosmology. We were taught that there was only one galaxy in the universe, now scientists have identified over 300 billion galaxies. Over the years I kept a minimal interest in what science was learning about the universe. In my memoir, From Blind Obedience to a Responsible Faith, I had a section that asked, “What Does the New Scientific Knowledge Do for our Image of God.” It was obvious to me that the more we knew about the new cosmology, the more we needed to change our image of God and the universe. I realized that up to this point, I was not the only one that thought, Hmm, the new cosmology is interesting but how does it affect my daily life?
Before you read any of the resources I’ve listed below, I suggest you read Michael Dowd’s blog entitled, “Best Resources: Evolution as Inspiring Meaningful Fact” on his website Evolutionary Christianity. After explaining some of the hows and whys underlying his thinking, he supplies dozens, and dozens, and dozens of resources for readers to understand the issues of creationism and evolution. He was accurate in titling this blog the Best Resources.
My hope is that some of the resources below and discussions on my blog will help us all answer that question. Here’s another song from Keith Mesecher and Cosmic All Stars, Cosmic Blues to welcome you to the new cosmology:
- The Story of Science Series is a six part video production by BBC, and presented by Michael Mosely. It is an excellent place to start, whether you’re a novice in this area of study or a long time student of the universe. It offers valuable insights into religious and spiritual questions about creation and evolution. Each episode in the series is about an hour long. They are all on YouTube. Each one of these topics is educational and could be used to stimulate group discussion or for our personal growth and consciousness of the universe that we are an integral part of. The titles of the episodes are:
- What is Out There?
- What is the World Made Of?
- How Did We Get Here?
- Can We Have Unlimited Power?
- What Is The Secret Of Life?
- Who Are We?
- Here is the Introduction to Joel Primack’s and Nancy Ellen Abrams’ book, The View from the Center of the Universe. The back cover of the book explains their rationale for writing the book and its importance: “Humans actually are central to the universe in unexpected ways. What does this mean for our culture and our personal lives? The answer is revolutionary: a science-based cosmology that allows us to understand the universe as a whole as well as our extraordinary place in it. We are the first generation, the authors explain, capable of grasping what the nature of the universe may imply about Earth – and how this knowledge can be used to protect the long-term future of our planet.”At the risk of being accused of being a huckster, I am happy to recommend this book, which has been described by the New Scientist Journal as being “…a deeply inspiring book that should be required reading for everyone.” Plus it’s available at Amazon.com for $6.40 on paperback. Their website is ViewFromtheCenter.com
- Evolutionary Spirituality is the module that I signed up for course on the website EnlightenNext.com. This website describes the authors’ background, and content of Evolutionary Spirituality. It’s one of seven World View Courses they have on the homepage of their website. The introduction to the module gives an idea of the direction they will take. It reads:
“Over the past 250 years, great evolutionary pioneers from Charles Darwin to Pierre Teilhard de Chardin have helped us to see that our universe is in a constant state of expansion, evolving and refining itself over time. From the Big Bang forward, energy became matter, and from matter, life emerged. And then life led to self-reflective consciousness and human culture. Now, two and a half centuries after Darwin’s dangerous discovery, we’re just barely beginning to grasp the implications of the fact that everything in the universe, including our own selves, is evolving.”
That was an “ahaa” moment for me.
- I’ve already mentioned above, Michael Dowd and the dozens of resources he has on his blog entitled, Best Resources: Evolution as Inspiring, Meaningful Fact, but here is his website which has 38 free interviews with him and an impressive list of scientists, religious and academic leaders, who each contribute to what he calls Conversations at the Leading Edge of Faith. As you open up his website, on the right side is a box that says Free Registration. Just put your first name and your email address in the box, click on register and a wealth of interviews will appear before your eyes. Each interview is approximately an hour. After each interview there is section on replies from those who participated in the original telecasts for that interview. At some point he intends to have the interviews available in print copies.I also recommend Michael Dowd’s book Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and our World. A group I belong to called The Seekers is discussing this book at our regular meetings. We find it very inspiring and stimulating. The book is available at Amazon.com for $9.98. It has been endorsed by five Nobel Laureates and over forty religious, scientific, and cultural leaders. To mention a couple: John Mather, NASA Senior Astrophysicist and 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics said, “The Universe took 13.7 Billion years to produce this amazing book.” Brian Swimme, Professor of Cosmology at California Institute of Integral Studies and student of Thomas Berry, started his statement off by saying, “Michael Dowd’s book should be made into a Hollywood movie”, and Barbara Marx Hubbard president of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution said: “Thank God for Evolution is a seminal work. It crosses the great divide between science and religion by offering a new, all-inclusive, science-based, spirit-based way for us to move together as co-evolutionaries participants in the process of creation. It is a gift to all of us.” So much for my promotion!
- Brian Swimme’s website: The Center of the Universe, offers a number of opportunities to pursue your journey of seeing your place in the universe. The home page has an excerpt from his most recent DVD’s , The Earth’s Imagination, in which he explores the human psyche within the context of the cosmic process. The same page has a brief but succinct two paragraph description of the New Cosmology from Copernicus to the present time. Another webpage describes his graduate program in California, The Philosophy, Cosmology and Consciousness Program (PCC) has been designed to help shape the intellectual, moral and spiritual leadership necessary for meeting this historic challenge. The PCC concentration is an area of study within the Philosophy and Religion Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.” There is also a blog that provides interesting information on a regular basis.
- The Jupiter Scientific Reports and News – This website is for readers who are either a professional cosmologist, or have an interest in quantum physics or any of the hard sciences. But it does have a sense of humor for those of us who can remember our college physics. Here’s a little quip I picked up on their webpage: When a third grader was asked to cite Newton’s first law, she said, “Bodies in motion remain in motion, and bodies at rest stay in bed unless their mothers call them to get up.” Sorry!
- Integral Enlightenment is Craig Hamilton’s website. Its subtitle is, Awakening to An Evolutionary Relationship to Life. This page provides information about his Academy for Evolutionaries and some of the teleconference courses and on-line courses they offer for a reasonable price. It describes a current course that has nine modules, which can be accessed by nine weeks of teleconferences or asynchronously on your website. To give you a sample of the module’s content, the first module is entitled, Awakening to the Call of the Cosmos: What it Means to be an Evolutionary. The website has testimonials from former students and reviews from some very impressive contributors, e.g., Ken Wilbur, Michael Dowd, Brian Swimme, and Barbara Mark Hubbard among others.
- This is an engaging article in Yes Magazine by K. Lauren de Boer entitled New Cosmology: A Great Story – Our Common Story by K. Lauren de Boer. She asks the question, “Could a story of awe at the unfolding of the universe be a story in which we can all find a home?” She goes on provide a down to earth (no pun intended) and personal view of the Great Story and our place in the universe.Another article by K. Lauren de Boer, also in Yes Magazine, that impressed me was, New Awareness: A New (and Ancient) Understanding of Who We Are. She challenges the old belief that we are the only species on our planet that have “elaborate means of communication, experience a range of emotions, and can carry out complicated reasoning. There are primates that use tools, birds that create up to 2000 songs, dolphins that engage in altruistic behavior.” She recognizes that it is difficult for many of us to come to the point where we are at peace in acknowledging that we are not at the center of the universe and therefore cannot dominate other people, animals, the earth and the heavens. The good news is that we can discover a richer life, one based on “finding our place in the diverse, evolving, interdependent web of being. As we rediscover the connections our culture has broken, we accelerate the trends that will transform the world.”
- The website of Shift Network has a power point presentation (located here) of a program entitled Vision 2012. The power point has 29 slides to guide participants towards global change.
The plan is described as:
“A roadmap for accelerating the shift to a peaceful, sustainable, healthy, and prosperous world.”
It basically is a blueprint for organizing the shift in seven steps. Each of the steps outlines their plan for making the shift from where we are today to where we would like to be. It has concrete steps of how their strategic objectives can be met. Vision 2012 not only touches upon the millions of changes needed, but it shows that it IS possible to create a global shift if enough of us work together across sectors, organizations, nations, and religions. They believe that,
“The great challenge of our time is to create a global culture that is sustainable, peaceful, healthy, and prosperous. We can rise to this challenge, just as previous generations have risen to the challenge of their day. Our planet and children are depending on it.”
- Here is the website for Global Mind Shift. I’m one of the 11,242 people from 148 countries who have signed up for their website – as of this minute. Their home page has a video that describes, what a global shift is. Here is a quote from their website: You might want to consider joining us. Especially “If Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi or other great spiritual teachers of the past were alive today, this might well be their wristband of choice. They knew that the answers we seek lie within each one of us. And asking ‘What would I do?’ is a great place to start.”
- This is a two part article by Rich Heffern in the The National Catholic Reporter: Part I, Part II, of the Fine Tuned Universe. Both articles are based on the premise that science and spirituality are no longer enemies, and they now have a common cause in search for meaning and purpose. “According to a growing number of hard-nosed physicists, the laws of nature are so finely tuned, and so many ‘coincidences’ have occurred to allow the possibility of life, the universe must have come into existence through intentional planning and intelligence.” According to the author, this change in positions is the result of a number of factors, including discoveries in quantum physics, psychology, and biology. Both articles are well worth reading.
- Awakening to the Call of the Cosmos: How to Align Your life with the Impulse of Evolution. This webpage contains a free lecture by Craig Hamilton, founder of The Academy of Evolutionaries. Just click on the arrow to start the lecture or download if you wish to save it. If this free lecture interests you, the webpage can lead you to other courses that Craig Hamilton offers.
“Craig is a founding member of Ken Wilber’s Integral Institute, a member of Deepak Chopra’s Evolutionary Leaders Forum, and was a participant in the Synthesis Dialogues, a 35-person interdisciplinary think tank presided over by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His celebrated conversations with other luminaries form the basis of the acclaimed webinar series’, The Great Integral Awakening: Pioneering A New Spiritual Path, and Awakening the Impulse to Evolve: The Birth of Evolutionary Spirituality. He has also been a contributor to Shift magazine and co-authored IONS’ 2008 Shift Report. Craig lives with his wife, Claire, in San Rafael, California.”
- Sister Joan Chisster is the author of this article, The God who Beckons. She is the author of over thirty books, a regular contributor to the National Catholic Reporter, lecturer and leader in women’s issue in the church. Over the years I’ve read a number of her books and recently have seen her move in the direction of Creationism and Evolution. I think this article show how she is becoming a leader in articulating the new cosmology’s place in her catholic tradition.
- Teilhard and Question of Life’s Suffering: An Excerpt from Rediscovering Teilhard’s Fire, (SJU Press. 2010, Kathleen Duffy. Editor) By John Haught. Even though this article deals specifically with Teilhard’s position on suffering, it presents suffering from a cosmic perspective vs. the views of the scientific naturalists or the religious position that we suffer because Adam and Eve committed the original sin and passed it on to us. As described in the article:
“Teilhard proposes an alternative cosmological framework, one that is fully supported by science, to serve as the context for theology’s reflections on the meaning of suffering – and here I am talking about all of life’s suffering and not just our own. In a universe that is still unfinished – one that is even today emerging from the ‘nothingness’ of primal multiplicity – the attribute of perfection can be applied only to a future cosmic unity that will occur in the everlasting care of a God who calls the universe into being from up ahead in the future. The logic of evolution has now permanently closed off the path of restoration and expiation. Evolution places in question all theodicies that have nourished themselves on nostalgia for a lost paradise. It leaves no legitimate room for resentment that paradise has been lost since creation has never (yet) been a paradise. Both the biblical logic of promise and the pattern of evolution have together barred the door to our ever returning to Eden. Henceforth our attempts at theodicy must purge themselves of all motifs of expiation and, place life’s suffering and sacrifice in the context of hope for future fulfillment.”
- The Great Story, created by Connie Barlow.
“Encompasses meaningful ways of telling the history of everyone and everything. The Great Story offers each of us the opportunity to find meaning and purpose in our lives and our time in history.” (also known as the Universe Story, Epic of Evolution, or Big History) it’s humanity’s common creation story. It is the 14 billion year science-based sacred story of cosmic genesis, from the formation of the galaxies and the origin of Earth life, to the development of self-reflective consciousness and collective learning, to the emergence of comprehensive compassion and tools to assist humanity in living harmoniously with the larger body of life.”
The website is full of information on the evolutionary process presented through songs and videos of Connie Barlow, Carl Sagan, Neil de Grasse and other well know scientists, academic and religious leaders. If you click on any of the subjects on the main page, you will get a video that can be enlarged by clicking twice on the smaller video image.
Below is series of four modules, each one is about eight minute long. They are accompanied by music and lectures by Connie, which trace our development over billions of years. For me, each one was a “peak experience.”
- I would be remiss if I didn’t include Thomas Berry in this list of resources. Many of his works, essays, videos, lectures etc. are available on his website. Berry has been described as, “the bard of the new cosmology. He unerringly finds the mythic dimension and the moral significance behind the scientific facts.” -Theodore Roszak, author of The Voice of the Earth and Ecopsychology, Review
He was described by his publisher as,
“The grandfather of the Deep Ecology movement and is known variously as a geologian or cosmologist. It is certainly an honor to publish this extraordinary document which is at the same time the summation of his life’s work and a blueprint for our own. Berry’s language and thinking are on a grand scale and it is only by sharing in his vision that we will be able to take advantage of this moment of grace and find a way to ensure the future of the planet.”
The publisher was speaking of Berry’s book, The Great Work: Our Way into the Future, which was well received by scientists and religious leaders.
One of his reviewers on amazon.com prophesized that, “This may be the great summary work of Thomas Berry. It is historically up to date, as befits a great historian of religion, science and the Earth. The assessment of the present is realistic to any who appreciate what we have lost. He projects into the future from the past as far as can be seen and hoped.”
The Great Work was published in 2000. Other books of his essays were edited and published after his death, but the Great Work was indeed just that, his Great Work, which he left for us to continue.
I would also recommend a book that Berry wrote with Brian Swimme, whom I mentioned above in reference #5. The title of their book is, The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era-A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos [Paperback], available on amazon.com. The book is described in the Library Journal by Elizabeth Salt, Otterbein College Library, Westerville, Ohio. “Physicist Swimme and cultural historian Thomas Berry here examine and synthesize a vast body of knowledge and hypothesis from the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, anthropology, and history. They seek to provide a concise but comprehensive story of the development and evolution of the universe, the earth, and humanity. The authors incorporate what they consider to be the most convincing hypothesis and take an inclusive perspective that views the entire universe as a continually developing, interconnected community. Their book presents a fascinating exploration of the earth’s history and, in richly evocative language, paints a picture of the evolution of the universe as a tremendous, ongoing creative activity. The final chapter explores the growing human influence on the condition of the planet and pleads for ecological responsibility. This is an engaging presentation written in nontechnical language. It is recommended for popular science collections.”
- One last reference for now, Matthew Fox has been a hero of mine since I read the first edition of his book, The Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality Presented in Four Paths, Twenty-Six Themes, and Two Questions, in 1983. It was named one of the “20 books that changed the world” in New Age Journal’s Annual Source Book for 1995. In 2000 the second edition of the book was published.One of the reviewers on amazon.com wrote, “Fox presents his Creation-Centered theory of spirituality in an easy to understand manner. His ideas on spirituality apply to all religions and denominations. It is a very uplifting and positive way of interpreting our spirituality and existence in the spiritual world. His books also lays out what he refers to as ‘Paths’ which we experience throughout life, and he gives insight on how to deal with, and grow from our experiences as spiritual people. I was also pleased that it focused on the positive aspects of spirituality, of life itself, rather than the sin and guilt that surrounded the beliefs of my Catholic up-brining. I gained a more thorough understanding of my place in life on earth from this book – it is one I will continue to reread throughout my lifetime.”
I heartily agree with the reviewer. I re-discovered the book after I started reading Swimme, Berry, Dowd, Barlow and the other authors listed above. It became apparent to me that Fox’s concept of “original blessing” made even more sense to me than when I read the first edition. What didn’t make sense to me, was why Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, (now Pope Benedict XVI), who was then the head man in the Vatican’s Office of the Inquisition, I mean Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, forbade Father Fox to teach theology in 1988, and why he was dismissed from the Dominican order.
Here’s some Additional Songs, Pictures and Lectures on the Evolving Universe. They say that pictures are worth a thousand words, so here are some videos that are educational, entertaining and engaging.
- The Big Bang Theme Song – Barenaked Ladies
- I Feel the Energy, a song by Keith Mesecher and The Cosmic All Stars
- The Play, a song by Peter Mayer
- My Soul, a song by Peter Mayer
- Song by Peter Mayer, Holy Now
- Silent Night for the Cosmically Inclined. From the Great Story.com
- Mother Nature Needs Us. By the P.J. Band
- Terra-ble Blues. By Earth Day Lament
- Louis Armstrong singing, What a Wonderful World
- Doris Day singing, I Got the Sun in the Morning
- Frank Sinatra singing, When You’re Smiling
- Bette Midler singing, The Rose