As I have read Bishop Spong over the past few years, he has challenged me to rethink some basic beliefs and assumptions. My own exploration of science and astronomy led me to conclude that God cannot be up there and out there in a universe with billions of galaxies each with billions of stars. Immediately, I heard, “The kin-dom of God is among you. Teilhard de Chardin and others have helped me understand that Christ is the deepest reality within me and that the Cosmic Christ is drawing creation to completion.
This brief excerpt from Spong fills in some more of the details:
If human life, as Darwin suggested and as modern science keeps verifying, is the product of millions of years of evolutionary history, then none of these theological formulas [paradise, the fall, redemption] remain valid. Without an original, perfect and complete creation, there could never have been a fall from perfection, not even metaphorically. Original sin has thus got to go. Without that fall from perfection there was no need for God’s rescue and no reason for Jesus to come to our aid. The idea of God as the punishing parent organizes religious life on the basis of the childlike and primitive motifs of reward and punishment. The cross understood as the place where Jesus paid our debt to this vengeful God becomes not just nonsensical, but it also serves to twist human life with guilt in order to make this system of thought believable. That is why Christian worship seems to require the constant denigration of human life. Christian liturgies constantly beg God “to have mercy.” Our hymns sing of God’s amazing grace, but the only reason God’s grace is amazing is that it “saved a wretch like me.” This theology assumes that God is an external being, living somewhere above the sky, whose chief occupations are two: first to keep the record books up to date on our behavior, thus serving as the basis on which we will be judged; and second to be ready to come to our aid in miraculous ways either to establish the divine order or in answer to our prayers. Darwin was only one part of the explosion of knowledge that rendered these ideas not only irrelevant, but unbelievable. Copernicus and Galileo had destroyed God’s dwelling place above the sky by introducing us to the vastness of space, suddenly but not coincidentally rendering this God homeless. Then Isaac Newton discovered the mathematically precise and immutable laws by which the universe is governed, leaving little room in it for either miracle or magic, which rendered the miracle-working deity unemployed. (http://johnshelbyspong.com/2009/09/03/the-study-of-life-part-6rethinking-basic-christian-concepts-in-the-light-of-charles-darwin/#respond) Continue reading