November 17, 2019

Evolution: What Does This Have To Do With Adult Spirituality?

Jesus said…”I came to bring fire on the earth; how I wish it were already kindled.” (Luke 12:4-5)

There are many things we hear today to which we say: “I was never taught that when I was in school!” True. That usually boils down to five reasons, or a combination of them: (1) you were too young to be taught that fact or truth; (2) it was a fact or truth that wasn’t known at that time; (3) it may have been taught, but either you weren’t paying attention or were absent the day it was taught; (4) it was taught and either you did not grasp the concept or you didn’t think it was important for you to learn; or (5) you dismissed the idea as unbelievable or not useful in your life.

This observation fits both scientific and religious concepts. For example: evolution. Do you believe the world evolves? Do you also believe that we evolve spiritually as well as physically? Or, don’t you believe in evolution at all?

Today, there is an effort being made to see science and theology as complementing one another. The one is not the other, but both are part of God’s eternal truth and truths cannot contradict each other. They are two sides of a coin: each revealing God’s self-communication to us as essential to the unfolding of The Eternal Truth: God.

We have a Universe Story which is grounded in empirical science that deals with matter that can be quantified and measured. We also have the Christian Story grounded in the spiritual experience of human beings and is not based on matter–for example, love. These cannot be quantified and measured. These two Stories have more in common than they do for what separates them. Modern science has separated the two and disregards the possibility of any kind of spirituality and transcendence. Today’s evolving spirituality tries to bring both Stories together in a complementary relationship as part of God’s plan.

Today, many scientists refer to the world as we now know it as multi-verse, meaning many universes, not just one (uni-verse). We used to think of infinity as referring to the number system or space. Now, scientists tell us from empirical evidence (matter) that we are dealing with three infinities: (1) that which is infinitely large; (2) that which is infinitely small; and (3) that which is infinitely complex.

In the process of evolution, human beings become more aware of God’s self-communication, its significance in human life and in the existence and life of all God’s creation. In the Psalms, David sings of his appreciation for God’s world. Think what David would sing about today with our new discoveries! These would make quite an impact on his spirituality and expand his depth of meaning, praise, and love for God.

Because of the Hubble telescope and other scientific studies, we now know that the earth is about 13.7 billion years old and that there are billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, extending billions of light years out into space. (A light year is the speed light travels in the vacuum of space in just one our regular solar years: this is 5.88 trillion miles a year which equals 5.88 x 10 to the 12th power!) These galaxies are moving at incredible speed even further out into space in an orderly manner. Each scientist of the past has discovered a part of this wonder. New discoveries transcend older ones, but are built on them and include them as part of the new revelations in the evolution of God’s world.

What does this have to do with the Christian Story in general or our spirituality in particular? Do these new discoveries in cosmology affect the spiritual life in general? Affect mine in particular? How? Or, do they no affect my/our spirituality at all?

At one time, the theology and spirituality taught in most religions was one based on “sin.” Today, our Christian Story has evolved into one more based on grace and Jesus’ words in John 10:10: “I came that you may have life and have it more abundantly;” and on His plea as quoted above: “I came to bring fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled.” (John 12:4)

So, let’s not be afraid of new information or turn it off as heresy. Christ’s work is still evolving. He is working now through us to set the world on fire with his love! Christ’s baptism launched his process; our baptism lets us pick up where Christ left off. We must help him to bring his love-commitment to complete fulfillment. Remember: Jesus told his followers that they would do greater things than he did. We are some of his followers!

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Written by
Sr Angelita Fenker

SR. ANGELITA M. FENKER, 83, passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013. Born in Fort Wayne, Sr. Angelita was a religious Sister and educator with various educational and ecumenical organizations in the U.S and Canada for 60 years, retiring in 2007.

She started her ministry in 1947, earned Bachelors degrees in education and family studies from University of Saint Francis and Purdue University. She was an elementary teacher, principal and director of religious education in Missouri, Louisiana and Indiana. She earned her Masters degree in education administration from Marquette University. From 1973 to 1990, served as the National Associate Director of Families for Prayer, Inc, of Albany, N.Y. During this time, she also earned her doctorate degree in spirituality and family spirituality from the Graduate Theological Foundation.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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Written by Sr Angelita Fenker
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