"A mistake about Creation will necessarily result in a mistake about God." —Saint Thomas Aquinas
One of the most important truths revealed in recent centuries is this: everything—the entire Universe—is in an ongoing process of deep-time transformation. Galaxies and star systems evolve. Planets evolve. Life evolves. Human cultures evolve. Individuals and groups of all sizes evolve. And our personal and collective thinking about life's big questions (including our concepts/stories of Ultimacy, God, or Undeniable Reality) evolve, too. Reflecting on this is, I suspect, what led Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to write:
"Is evolution a theory, a system, or a hypothesis? It is much more: it is a general condition to which all theories, all hypotheses, and all systems must bow and satisfy henceforth if they are to be thinkable and true. Evolution is a light illuminating all facts, a curve that all lines must follow."
Over the next few weeks, I will elaborate on The 7 Deadly Sins of Old-Time Religion, taking them one at a time. I will show that there are 7 profoundly negative consequences of religious resistance to a measurable understanding of reality, and deep-time view of grace. Specifically, I will reveal how, from a religious naturalism point of view, a pre-evolutionary worldview frozen within scriptural literalism necessarily...
1. Trivializes God, guidance, and good news;
2. Balkanizes religion and bastardizes science;
3. Desacralizes nature;
4. Blasphemes death;
5. Fails our children in three tragic, unnecessary ways;
6. Denies individuals and families access to the most important saving wisdom for overcoming personal and relational challenges; and
7. Blinds us from seeing the true nature of the current global integrity crisis.
Everything must evolve in order to remain viable. Three billion years ago, life (bacteria and archaea) thrived in a context of 2% oxygen. Today, anything less than 15% oxygen would wipe out all mammals. In an ever-emerging, ever-developing Cosmos, conditions that were once healthy and lifegiving can later become dangerous or even deadly—which is, of course, why life must be so adaptive.
Traditional religions will either evolve like everything else or, paradoxically, they will destroy nearly everything they stand for, or perhaps just go extinct. I'm betting my life that they will evolve, and will become more lifegiving then ever—not just for their own members but for the entire Earth community. This is, indeed, why I wrote Thank God for Evolution, and why Connie and I have been living on the road for 7 years, sharing a sacred, meaningful view of cosmic, Earth, life, and human history with religious and secular audiences across America.
The boldest creedal assertions are in the future, not the past. I foresee a time in the not-too-distant future when churches and other religious organizations preach and teach the science-based epic of evolution as our common creation story, and when this story is seen as foundational for moral instruction and teaching values to the next generations. Widespread awareness of The 7 Deadly Sins of Old-Time Religion will, I pray, significantly further this process.