John 5:17-18 : “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”
Last week we lost one of our greatest ever scientists, Dr Stephen Hawking. I was moved to look one of his lectures on line (found here at http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html) where I read of his account of the non-static dynamism of the universe, and how people at various times had prefered the idea of a “static universe” or the “Steady State Theory”. When he was a young man making his reputation, the static universe was the favoured theory amongst the scientific elite. The universe had always existed, without beginning and end, and was essentially the same as it ever was.
One of the great revelations of modern science, in which Hawking was a prime mover, was the realisation is that the universe has not always been the same ; it is not a static state phenomenon. The galaxies hurtle away from each other at increasing speeds, and our telescopes see the birth, life and death of stars and galaxies. The whole thing is dynamic and changing, a cosmic pattern of birth, life, death and resurrection, changing over time . Lots and lots of time is involved, and lots and lots of change.
Earthly nature too seems to me to be invested with this quality – it has been included with a certain quality to modify itself, to remove and introduce species, and to spur itself on to change from within, to adapt and evolve. Why on earth should that be seen by people of faith as a negative thing? God has created everything, and he inhabits creation and sustains it, so why might it not it possess some of his creative capacity?
This is not to say it is “divine” but rather that it is made with the potential to create from within itself. It can only do this from existing matter and within existing physical and cosmic laws created by God. But it seems very beautiful to suggest that creation is creative, that God moves through his creation changing things, moving them on.
Creations creative capacity comes nowhere near that of God himself – this is not what we call “pantheism”. It is finite because it based on matter, which is not divine. But that matter, and the way it is organised and characterised, has the power to exert transformative creative purpose because God has endowed it with that potential. It is all not just set in motion and then left to go, but perpetually inhabited, sustained and guided by him. So why would it stay the same ? The concept of evolution and change being at the heart of the cosmos and being guided over eons of time, should not worry the Christian at all. It is just another example of wonder, and an illustration that creation is moving somewhere – it is purposive !