Conscious evolution

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Friday, July 18, 2014


TRADITIONALLY, the Church has looked at the world as a ‘valley of tears that we will ultimately leave’. This is quite a negative outlook on the world, different from what the theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin has discovered about the world.

He says that human beings are evolving to a new ‘consciousness’ along with nature. Human beings have a consciousness different from the animal world which has no consciousness but only an instinct, an intuitive power that makes animals move on together with other living beings.

Consciousness is part of the evolution, according to Chardin. It makes you feel at home in the world. Faith however, tells us that the world is not our home forever. There is an ‘omega point’ in our life when we will move into eternal life.

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Through modern science and technology we have discovered also that there is a new level of ‘consciousness and connectivity’ which can be seen in the social media. The idea that you can have a computer in your office and you can connect with the entire world right there would have been unthinkable 50 years ago. The Church however, is still behind in this respect. Her theology and doctrine is still trying to catch up with these new insights.

All these ideas come close to what we call pantheism, a philosophical thinking that identifies God with the universe. God is an integral part of the universe but He is never identical to it.

However, a little pantheism could be helpful for us because we are so afraid of bringing God into the world; and yet the world is His creation. It may give us also a greater awareness or consciousness of our sinfulness and the need of Christ’s saving action which heals us and makes us whole and thus makes us more deeply united with God.

We often criticize each other for not being Christian. Instead of criticizing others we better have a close look at ourselves and see how much we have realized the “Good News” in ourselves. We have to live our faith. Pope Francis gives us much hope in the Church when he says: “a breath of fresh air is putting forward not a teaching Church but a living Church.”

I was able to get hold of the writings of a Franciscan sister Sr. Ilia Delio, who is a theologian and director of Catholic studies at Georgetown University in the United States. She says somewhere: “We must realize that we are in a new world and we must adjust the Gospel to the world in which we live. The Church needs to widen its boundaries when it comes to women in the Church and the participation of women in the decision making in the Church. The Church has always feared when women become too independent. You go back to the Middle Ages when some women were burnt at the stake. Thank God we have done away with stakes as I probably would have been there myself.”

These are strong words of a sister who is so much involved in the Church, the life of the Christian community. We are all members of the Christian community and equal in dignity, bishops, priests and ordinary lay people. We must live up to that dignity and show it clearly in the relationship with other Christians.

[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 18, 2014.

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