One of the things that I believe in is human evolution & the theory of evolution. Human beings never suddenly appeared on the planet but we evolved like every other thing in creation. Science tells us that our evolved form of Homo Sapiens replaced Homo Erectus and Neanderthal man, we have proof of that in fossils and in the genome project and in our DNA. Science tell us that we evolved 200,000 years into the human form we know as Homo Sapiens and began to leave Africa around 60,000 years ago, to become the dominant species. That evolution process is still going on in human beings as they adapt to their environment – apparently hair isn’t as necessary as it one was in the glacial age, more’s the pity!
We have had a chequered history in the Christian Church regarding evolution. People for many centuries felt that they needed to defend the story of Adam and Eve and the 7 days of creation, as a historical fact. Of course that is to misunderstand the bible and the idea of creation that is presented there. How could those civilisations understand scientifically the way our world has evolved, it is difficult enough for us to piece it all together, the bible was never meant to be that kind of book that explained the world scientifically. People in previous times could never know some of things that we have come to know through scientific research, they could never have seen things that we have seen in programmes like the Blue Planet
In recent days the 20th century Jesuit palaeontologist Teilhard de Chardin is being rehabilitated. Many of those assertions of modern science which underpinned his work are readily accepted and no longer feared or looked on with suspicion. Just 50 years ago the Catholic Church was warning people not to read his works and not to regard his research as Catholic thought.
We don’t have to retreat into a walled city of medieval thought, but we are part of this bright new world which understands the world, where we come in, how we come about and our relationship to other things round about us. The story is even more amazing, astonishing and incredible than we could ever have known. We are still in the middle of piecing it all together.
If it is strange how little we have known about ourselves, isn’t it strange how little we know about God. It is strange too how we make God look like us, think like us, behave like us. Today we even call him a King. The Old Testament makes him a mighty king, a war-like Lord. The bible makes him a shepherd who pastures sheep, looks after sheep, protects sheep. These are human things that we brand onto God.
The Eastern Orthodox Church says that there is more that we don’t know about God than we do know about him. Everything, they says, we know about him falls short, everything we can say about him is less than what he is. Whereas in the west we emphasise the knowability of God, in the East they emphasise that he unknowable, the everything we can say or know about him falls short of the mark. God is a mystery. It is like the water in our hands, we think we have him and like the water it slips though our fingers.
These things and titles that we give God are human constructs even although they might be inspired words that come to us from the bible. His tenderness is like that of a shepherd. His might is like that of a king. But the words will always fall short, God is always more, he is always more, he cannot be boxed or limited by our thought or by what we say of him or how we see him. He is always more than a human shepherd. more than an earthly king, his tenderness and power are always more than we could ever imagine, more than even the holiest of men and women knew about God.
What an incredible thing human beings are. Homo Sapiens emerged out of Africa. One of things about these early men and women is that tried to understand where they had come from and what they were about and who it was that had created them. They had the simple idea that anything that existed had to be created and that there had to be one creator of it all.
Added to the story of creation and evolution that we know through science we believe like those men and women who were our fore fathers there is another story that runs along side it, how God behaves in creation, what God does, how God acts and who God is.
We believe that God has revealed Himself to us in this story of the world. Even more amazing than this - - in this evolving form of Homo Sapiens, God entered into the world to make himself known to us, speaks in our words, acts in ways that we understand and will himself to be understood, know and loved – the Word was made flesh and lived among us.
He who has created and set in motion all things came as one of things he had created, to allow his mind to be known, his ways to be known, himself to be known. To give us the secret that lies at the centre of the universe and the centre of our human form – that it is always a mystery of love, that moves the Universe forward, that moves it from chaos to order.
He allows himself to speak and be known to in this human form that comes forth from Africa and becomes the steward of creation and will have dominion of growing and living things. God says: I will make to this creation I will even make them in my own image.
In the evolving creatures that are human beings God is present. In the many and varied faces of human beings the divine mark is there. In the life and history of human beings God has visited us from on high. He allows himself to be known in the languages of men and women, in their yearning to know him, in our signs and symbols. He even allows himself to be known in worldly terms as a shepherd, as a mighty king, as a teacher even if at the end of the days these words do not say enough about him.