Monday, October 5, 2009

OMG! What time is it?

Once again time has proven my enemy... or at least proven itself faster than my muse and my organizational skills. But in a nutshell, since last post [OMG! July?! Really!?!] it's been a time of inner work, outer preoccupations, and now I'm back in the safe cloister of academia. Well... relatively safe

Here at Unity Institute we just completed a symposium called Lyceum 2009-Science & Religion: An Evolving Dialogue. I sat on a panel of students from UI and other seminaries as we debated the still-a-hot-button issues of Creationism v Evolution [you can find a decent side-by-side comparison here]. We harangued over multiple points ranging from our thoughts about religion influencing public policy [which is another post for another time] to where we stood on each process on its own merit. I can't recall everyone agreeing on any point at any point in the session, but as the Lyceum title suggests, this was an opportunity to dialogue rather than convince.

Probably the most debated [sorry...conversed] point that came up [and it returned in metaphysical theology class this morning] was the nature of God. More specifically the question of God being vs God becoming. Is God already all God can be or is God evolving along with us? The idea of God being is a long standing tradition of many faiths, including Christianity, including Unity. Recently [as in last century] the idea of Process Theology has been gaining ground. It basically purports that God is changeable inasmuch as we exercise our free will and thought and create our experiences. In other words, God experiences itself through our choices and knows all the possible choices we can make...except the one we actually make. Of course, this approach flies in the face of the "Omniscience" of God, which is a bitter pill to swallow, because as our professor Rev. Dr. Thomas Shepherd pointed out, remove one card and the whole house of cards falls.

Where do I stand on this? I keep coming back to an agnostic [some would say cynical] position of "we cannot and never will know with any certainty." That doesn't posit that either is wrong and suggests that both sides of the debate may also be correct. But I also think that the real question here we might be overlooking is one of time. We humans tend to think of time as linear but it might not be [click here for the easy explanation or here if you want to get technical...most of clicked the first one didn't you?]. More often than not I find myself pitching my tent in the camp that views everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen, exists in every moment. Time is also inextricably linked to distance [i.e. space - hence terms like spacetime contiuum]. An easy example is stargazing. The light from some stars takes millennia to reach us, meaning we're now seeing it as it was thousands of years ago. In a sense we have time-traveled.

So I think any discussion about our understanding of God has to include our understanding of time. If every moment in time also exists in this moment, then yes, an evolving unchangeable God is possible. Does this challenge previous held notions? Naturally...but that's half the fun of this.