Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Moltmann's Evolution: Consonance

Sexual dimorphism indicates that, as human males are disparate from human females, the male retains behaviors of the sexual dimorph: aggression, polygamy, and social hierarchy. Sexual monomorphism, on the other hand, indicates that, as human males are similar to human females, the male retains behaviors of the sexual monomorph: passivity, monogamy, and flat- pair bonding. The tension between these two principles, of course, might well account for all of literature and a fair bit of human culture.

Biologically, we really don’t know which way we’re going. So to speak of the human as being simultaneously imageo dei and imageo mundi is not without precedent, and to introduce human beings as the embodiments of metaphysical tensions is at least as old as Shakespeare. But a right reading of creation might indicate that it is a good deal older still. Creation’s historical progression indicates a sequence of which humanity is not the final step: the Sabbath is. More, the historical progression indicates that even the highest step is dependent or contingent upon the others.

The human being is like the animals an animated body; the being of the human is similar to the being of the animals; the human eats as the animals eat; the human is blessed as they are blessed: with fertility. Yet animals cannot garden, and the human is to keep and tend and till the earth and it is not good that the human should be alone. The animals are not in the image of God. Even the angels are not in the image of God. But human beings are God’s vicar, proxy, and representative and as such precede the Sabbath reserved for the glory of God.

Our work is the glorification of God. Our work will always be the glorification of God; in the redemption of creation the glorification of God becomes the first thing that is the foundation of all new things. The human task then is not to supersede the creation but to precede it into the kingdom of God as servant-priests. The new creation will follow and depend upon and be the culmination of human work, and not the converse. Instead of the hubris of social Darwinism then, the biblical accounts of creation and redemption leave the human race not exultant but humbled as the serving base of the kingdom of God.

This is the divine history. By being open to the future, to the very progression of time, it is open to interpretation. It is not the exclusion of evolution but proposes an answer to the question of what evolution means. In evolutionary terms, in a self-directing, self-reproducing, self-ordering biosphere, both God and humankind seem to become superfluous; yet directing, reproducing and ordering meaning remain irretrievably human tasks – a religious worldview would merely ask that we direct, reproduce and order creation and its meaning toward God rather than ourselves.

One must demythologize both evolutionary and creationary accounts to understand them both and negotiate the tension between their claims. And the true real tension here is not between a science-world and a Bible-world but between a man-centered world and a God-centered world. Already, both science and bible agree that humanity is not the center. They also agree that the universe is not stable; history is not an orderly procession of natural laws and fixed states. More, bible and science agree that the future of the history is written in neither present nor past. Future is contingent upon the past but does not simply proceed from the past. The future is both determined and free, bound and open. The parts always give rise to a whole greater than their sum.

The world anticipates its future. It does so in a way contingent upon chance, though what evolution calls blind chance creation calls the freedom of the goodness of God. And what evolution does not call a goal at all, except, perhaps, the continuance of life, creation calls the goal of the revelation of the glory of God. That it ‘may not’ reach its purpose does not remove that purpose. That it ‘may not’ reach its purpose does not remove God’s continuous and creative Yes to the cosmos. If God is closed to anything, God is closed to closure.

God is closed upon liberation. God’s constitution is transformation; God’s expressive creation, then, is free, righteous and ultimately saved as this and only this is the eschatological exclamation of the glory of God.

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