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Can the human species really understand its source?


Question & Answer

Q: By Clifford from the internet:
Has the latest telescopic view of the universe (universes?) had any effect on liberal thinking concepts of a creator, intelligent design OR ESPECIALLY on the capability of the human species to really understand its source? Are we attempting a task greater than our human intelligence is capable of?
A: By Rev. Matthew Fox
Dear Clifford,

There was a time when cosmology or creation was at the very heart of healthy religion and spirituality. Genesis itself begins not with the human condition but with the universe—an Original Blessing indeed! The Wisdom tradition, from which the historical Jesus springs, celebrates God in nature. Pre-modern thinkers like Thomas Aquinas said: “Revelation comes in two volumes: Nature and the Bible” and “the most excellent thing in the universe is not the human but the universe itself.” Meister Eckhart said: “Every creature is a word of God and a book about God.”

What happened to this theological interest in the universe? Well, the Black Death in the fourteenth century scared people into thinking nature (and God) were out to get us. And the “neurotic question” (Biblical scholar Krister Stendahl’s language) “Am I saved?” held sway. So Redemption and Salvation swamped Creation as a prime interest in the Reformation and at the dawn of the modern age. The burning of Giordano Bruno at the stake in 1600 and the imprisonment of Galileo did not help much either.

So religion pretty much went its way in pursuit of “souls” and anthropocentrism while science went its way in pursuit of truths about the universe. A schizophrenic civilization was the sad result. But today is another day. Today many scientists agree that science and spirituality need each other and as for theology, Pere Chenu, my mentor, named the Creation Spirituality tradition that has been my life’s work. Aquinas devoted his life to bringing the scientist Aristotle into the faith tradition. “A mistake about creation results in a mistake about God” Aquinas warned.

Of course we cannot do theology without science. When we try we get silliness such as people championing homophobia while ignoring what science tells us about gay and lesbian populations just like the church ignored Galileo’s findings centuries ago. Science feeds us with the awe of creation. What about the fact uncovered two summers ago that our universe is two trillion galaxies large? Doesn’t that reignite our wonder at being here? And since “ecology is functional cosmology” (Berry), surely our entire ecological crisis looms in great part because religion has failed in its responsibility to announce the sacredness of creation.

In my book on Evil called Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society, the first three chapters are about the sacredness of the Universe Flesh; the Eco flesh; and Human Flesh drawn from today’s scientific findings. Only in the context of wonder and awe ought we to be talking about spirituality or theology or Evil.

The Cosmic Christ archetype offers a profound awareness about the cosmos that was alive in the earliest Christian Scriptures including Paul and the Gospel of Thomas.(1) One reason seminaries are dying is that they have Biblical scholars but no scientists on the faculty telling of the wonders of creation.
So, YES! OF COURSE cosmos and psyche must reunite and the sooner the better. Aquinas said “every human person is capax universi, capable of the universe.” And what a universe it is! He invokes the psalmist who writes we are to get “drunk on God’s house” and Aquinas comments, “that is, the universe.”

~ Rev. Matthew Fox

This Q&A was originally published on Progressing Spirit – As a member of this online community, you’ll receive insightful weekly essays, access to all of the essay archives (including all of Bishop John Shelby Spong), and answers to your questions in our free weekly Q&A. Click here to see free sample essays.

About the Author

Rev. Matthew Fox holds a doctorate in spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris and has authored 32 books on spirituality and contemporary culture that have been translated into 69 languages. Fox has devoted 45 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality and in doing so has reinvented forms of education and worship. His work is inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions and has awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West. He has helped to rediscover Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas. Among his books are Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh, Transforming Evil in Soul and SocietyA Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality JourneyMeister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Times and Confessions: The Making of a Postdenominational Priest

A new school, adopting the pedagogy Fox created and practiced for over 35 years, is opening in Boulder, Colorado this September.  Called the Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality it is being run by graduates of his doctoral program and will offer MA, D Min and Doctor of Spirituality degrees. With young leaders he is launching a new spiritual (not religious) “order” called the Order of the Sacred Earth (OSE) that is welcoming to people of all faith traditions and none and whose ‘glue’ is a common vow: “I promise to be the best lover of Mother Earth and the best defender of Mother Earth that I can be.”

(1) See my The Coming of the Cosmic Christ and my and Bishop Marc Andrus’ Stations of the Cosmic Christ.

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