Tuesday, 4 December 2012

4th December 2012

Certain instincts inherited across generations are characteristic of all living matter and make both survival and growth possible. Among these are the impulse to reproduce, to defend against danger and learn to adapt to changing conditions, to the point where physique and behaviour modify themselves over generations to optimise survival potential. From the origins of time and space itself matter has evolved to the point where planet Earth (and presumably others like it) produced rare conditions in which organic forms of matter have all the characteristics we call life. The evolution of the human species, with its particular form of self awareness and ability to understand and organise its own environment, is the most recent chapter of a long evolutionary history.

Faith refuses the notion that this entire process 'just happened' and started itself for no discernable reason. Faith speaks of God as 'uncreated creator', the Mind whose infinite intelligence is expressed in the rich complexity of the creative process. Exactly how all things came into being, where and when the seemingly unending chain of cause and effect began is subject to detailed human enquiry now that we have evolved the technical means to do so.

Even the question of whether or not God was the Prime Mover in the creative process is not ultimately accessible to enquiry or reasoning. Whatever we think we know of God, so much more remains unknown, a complete mystery. How all things were originated by God is beyond our comprehension. Our longing to understand the reason for our existence however, leads us to take it on trust that, no matter how it was achieved, God is creator and source of all that is.

Reaching out from the natural pre-occuption with survival and all it entails, human beings have a capacity for curiosity, awe and wonder which takes them out of themselves. Having a useful knowledge of our environment is a part of what it takes to adapt to changing circumstance and survive.  Longing to know more about the universe and God has evolved as part of our self-consciousness. It is so much more than hunger for useful information. It is longing for relationship a mutual relatedness not only with creation but the Creator. In trust we reach out and hope that God is also reaching out towards us, to engage with us. "O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down!" as Isaiah said. It's a sentence at the heart of the Advent seasonal liturgy.

We have evolved possessing this higher longing as part of self consciousness. The heart of faith interprets and voices this candidly in the words of St Augustine: "O Lord thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee."

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