Science helps us to think about our place amidst creation. We are part of the physical fabric of the universe and have developed through the evolving history of life on earth. In highly complex ways, we are connected to human beings who lived several thousand years ago, we are connected to all life on our planet and we are connected to the universe itself.
Pope Francis argues in his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ (Praise Be to You), published in 2015 that human beings possess a uniqueness which cannot be fully explained by evolution.
Each of us has his or her own personal identity and can enter into dialogue with others and with God himself. Our capacity to reason, to develop arguments, to be inventive, to interpret reality and to create art, along with other ‘not yet discovered capacities’, are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology. The sheer novelty involved in the emergence of a personal being within a material universe presupposes a direct action of God.
Pope Francis also states that we must see that everything is interconnected and that all of creation is a ‘kind of universal family’.
Our relatedness to the rest of creation does indicate that we are not completely different from what creation itself is. Saint Paul writes, ‘from the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth’ (Romans 8:22). Eucharistic Prayer IV affirms to God that we ‘confess your name in exultation, giving voice to every creature under heaven’ and bring ‘to perfection his work in the world, he might sanctify creation to the full’.
Humankind finds its proper purpose through an unfolding evolutionary story guided by divine providence. This story weaves its way throughout creation towards humankind and leads to the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who fulfils creation through salvation. In ‘Laudato Si’, Pope Francis writes compellingly that ‘For Christians, all the creatures of the material universe find their true meaning in the incarnate Word, for the Son of God has incorporated in his person part of the material world, planting in it a seed of definitive transformation’.
The transformation brought about by Christ is something that is happening right now. This sacred transformation has been operating throughout creation since the beginning of time, manifested in Christ’s Resurrection and revealed to us since the earliest moments of the Church. St. Paul writes in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, ‘So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come’ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
We are a critical part of the unfolding story of God’s universe. We belong right where we are now. Every moment matters. We each have our part to play in this truly astounding story.
We share in the creative potential that God desires the universe to have. Contemplating an evolutionary universe and the nature of God revealed by scripture can support our own spiritual journey. Such contemplation highlights our role as co-creators in God’s continuous creation of the universe.
Each of us treads upon a unique path that is not always easy to discern. Along this path, we encounter challenges, struggles and joy. The light of deep truth guides us and beneath this eternal light, we grow constantly by humbly remaining open to God’s wisdom, hope and love.
A presentation by Sean O'Leary will take place in Ballyvaloo Retreat and Conference Centre, Blackwater on Tuesday 19th March at 7.30 pm. The title of the presentation is: 'The Gospel of Creation - Discovering Wisdom through Science, Faith & Hope'. All are welcome. This presentation will include artwork by the presenter which explores the harmony of science and the Christian faith.