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The Great Blasphemy?
Here's my beloved, Connie, in front of the world-famous "fish-within-a-fish" fossil at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. We visited this amazing museum, part of Fort Hays State University, in Fort Hays, Kansas, a few days ago on our drive from Durango, Colorado to New York.
When I'm at a world-class museum like Sternberg, I can't help wondering if future generations will look back at our time and judge it as the period of "The Great Blasphemy." To "blaspheme" is to treat something sacred as profane, in word or deed. It is behaving disrespectfully or harmfully toward someone or something that is, in fact, worthy of deepest honor, respect, even reverence.
When I suggest that our time in history may come to be known as "The Great Blasphemy", what I'm pointing to is the fact that hundreds of millions of religious believers around the world not only are unable to see the entire 14-billion-year history of the Universe as holy—indeed, as the primary revelation of God—but many even consider evolution "demonic." I know this because I, too, was once such a blasphemer, proclaiming evolution was "of the devil." Many people, of course, have never been exposed to religiously inspiring views of evolution, so this should not be surprising. And the fact that many theists and atheists alike hold trivialized notions of the divine—i.e., they think of God as an otherworldly entity whose main business is engaging in unnatural acts (i.e., supernatural interventions)—also contributes to this condition.
Non-evolutionary views of God are by their very nature unsubstantial and inconsequential. The fact that Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion, was an overnight bestseller is compelling evidence of this. No one would buy a book titled, The Life Delusion, or The Universe Delusion. Why? Because 'Life' and 'the Universe' are not trivial concepts—they are undeniably real. "Do you believe in water?" is an absurd question precisely because water is real, not imaginary. It simply doesn't matter whether we 'believe in' water or not. We are each 50-70% water. Without water we wouldn't exist, whether we believe in it or not.
Tradtional "flat-earth" views of God (understandings that emerged when people thought the world was flat) must be believed in or not. Evolutionary understandings of God transcend belief. Indeed, any "God" that can be believed in or not is precisely what I'm not talking about. The reason I spend two chapters in my book discussing this is because, to my mind, nothing is more important than un-trivializing God and redeeming God talk. Philip K. Dick has written: "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." It is precisely this reality—this undeniable reality (and nothing less than this)—that I'm pointing to when I use the word "God." And when we truly get this, it becomes obvious that facts are God's native tongue.
Only when the evolutionary history of the Universe is articulated in a way that conservative religious believers feel in their bones is holy, and in a way that liberal believers are passionately proud of, will evolution be widely and wholeheartedly embraced. Fortunately, that time, is now—not 2,000 years ago, not 200 years ago, and not even 20 years ago. Now is when we are awakening to the reality that evolution is divine and that we've been blaspheming God to say otherwise. Now is when we can see that our faith can be enhanced and enriched by a deep-time view of cosmic history. And now is when we can fully appreciate that God did not stop communicating truth vital to human wellbeing back when scripture was still recorded on animal skins and preserved for posterity in clay pots. To my mind, this truly is Great News.