Monday, August 8, 2011

Theology 101: Creation

Last night I caught Richard Dawkins’ commentary on the existence of God on the Green Channel. He was showing how with the ‘Big Bang Theory’ there is no room for God. He has proven with math and logics that it didn’t take God to be creator of the Universe.

Now, I am no physicist. I do not know the mechanics of how the natural world works. I am so math-challenged that I can’t balance my check book. But I do know that natural law is not the only thing that makes the world go round.  I do know that there is something that somehow not only caused the Big Bang that led to billions of years of evolving and transformation and it continues to be a part of that ever-expanding creation.

I have no way of even beginning to describe that Presence, that element that is not matter or time that I know in the depths of my being as the dimension of holiness. I conveniently call that presence God simply because I have no other word for it—he, she or they. It is just an awareness that beyond the parameters of time and space there is something or someone who touches my soul—that part of me that cannot be described but where I am most fully alive. It is not a figment of my imagination because I cannot even imagine that Presence in whole.  But only in part, as Paul says..

What I call God or the Holy is not something that I can even begin to describe. I can only point to the effects in life. Professor Hawkings is an amazing scientist. And I am sure he is sure of his facts. But the Holy is not about facts. The Holy includes all of that which cannot be explained in natural law. I am sure the good professor would say that there IS nothing outside natural law. But I have experienced that Holy and it is not something I have manufactured. I am not smart enough to manufacture that presence that goes beyond time, matter and space.

Yes, I am sure that I am not too scientific about my theology, but then again just how scientific should we mortals be when trying to describe that which is beyond matter, space and time? It is an experience that moves me beyond the confines of that which can be quantified. Is this ‘fuzzy thinking?’ Of course it is! But all theology is ‘fuzzy thinking.’ To even talk about the Holy ultimately limits the Unlimited because to name puts limits on that which is named.

I have been preaching about the Indefinable for 40 years now and I am no closer to describing the Holy than before I went to seminary. I can only speak in metaphors and use words allegorically to explain that Presence that has been there all my life even though I may have not known it. I use the metaphoric language that those who have gone before me and who have known that Presence too. I use technical terms such salvation, redemption, belief, faith and even God the way my predecessors used them, but I am beginning to find that those words do not convey the awe, the kinship, the call to be in that Presence.

Marcus Borg has tried to reclaim some of those words in his “Speaking Christianity”. And I too believe it is time to redefine some of those words that have become ‘definitions’ of how that Holy acts in creation. It will require a willingness to unhinge ourselves from those nice neat compartments that we can put God so that we do not have to be present to that Presence.

In Psalm 8, the composer says: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;  what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?  Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.” The psalmist understood the quandary of trying to describe God. The only thing he could do was comment on creation and the awe that the beauty of the heavens and earth seemed to express the awe for the Creator. Does the God I know have to even be the Creator? The Presence I know most surely could have initiated the Big Bang. It really doesn’t matter if God was the Creator. It matters only that I acknowledge that Presence and honor it.

I choose to call it God. I choose to personalize it because it is easier for me to understand how this Presence functions in my life if I do. But that too is not necessary. God does not demand it of me. That Holy Presence is just part of my life. It is in me and around me. I claim it and hold it for all to see. But that Holy One is the beginning for me. It is the Big Bang of my life if not creation.


Rmj said...

Did Dawkins bother to point out the "Big Bang" theory was first promulgated by a Jesuit priest? Who obviously didn't think the theory excluded God as Creator.

Maybe Dawkins needs to reconsider what "Creator" means. It does have a theological meaning which, as Wittgenstein would point out, merely means Dawkins and the theologians are using different language games.

But not that one is more right than the other.

Muthah+ said...


I do agree with you. As Marcus Borg says, the God that Hawkings doesn't believe in he wouldn't believe it either.

I got Hawkings' sense of God is far too material and 'out there' for me. The Holy or Presence is so palpabale for me that I cannot deny it/her/him.

And while I will refer to that Presence as he or she when I preach for lack of a better term, I am not willing to categorize anthropomorphically.

If I could use Person without people immediately putting gender on to it, I would but it is very hard for folks to articulate this Presence that is so intimate without personhood.