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Step 2: Stir and bake until the world comes to its end

We would like to spice our recipe with ingredients from three passages in the Bible. The first is Genesis 1:31, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” The second is Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” Now, we’re not absolutely sure how to interpret these, even though we have some good ideas. We’re cautious. So we add a third: 1 Corinthians 13:12, “now we see in a mirror dimly.”

We believe that God creates from the future, not the past. God starts with redemption and then draws all of creation toward it. Or, perhaps better said, God’s ongoing creative work is also God’s redeeming work. Only a redeemed creation will be worthy of the stamp of approval we read in Genesis, “very good.”

As we look backward in time, we suggest that the first thing God did for the creation at the moment just prior to the Big Bang was to give the world a future. God gave the world a future in two senses. The first sense of the future is openness. The gift of a future builds into physical reality its dynamism, openness, contingency, self-organization, and freedom. The future God built into the initial conditions of the Big Bang included sufficient openness to make possible the evolution from inanimate matter to life and eventually to conscious life. The bestowal of this kind of future is the bestowal to reality of the possibility of becoming something it had never been before. God provided the condition that made and still makes ongoing change possible. And, what God did at the beginning to make the Big Bang possible is what God is doing every moment, every second. At the very moment you are reading this, God is dispensing to our world a future that is open for variation. God unlocks the present from past causation; and this frees the present for newness in the future. God is unceasing in serving the world in this manner.

By God imparting the quality of openness to the future, God makes room for the distinction between primary and secondary causality. God’s direct act is the primary cause. God establishes the world. God gives the world being, and preserves if from falling into nonbeing. God also imparts openness toward a future that can be different from the past. This permits the creaturely world to take action. This permits what we call secondary causation within evolutionary history, leading to unpredictable patterns of variation and self-organization.

The second sense of the future is fulfillment. God gave the world a promise that, in the end, everything would be “very good.” God provides the final cause, so to speak, at least in a qualified sense. Anticipating fulfillment, we want to say that future-giving is the way God both creates and redeems the world.

Like a cake in the oven, we and all of reality in the universe are not done yet. Not ready. But, we will be. The world in which we live is still being created. And when it is finally created, it will be redeemed. It’ll be ready for a divine feast.

It should be obvious that we do not limit the concept of creation to a single act back at the beginning, back at the Big Bang or back in Genesis 1. We do not hold a deist view, according to which God creates the world and then goes on vacation to let the world run on its own. Instead, we say that God’s creative act of imparting an open future is an ongoing one. We certainly affirm creation from nothing, creatio ex nihilo. Yet, we also affirm that the creative power by which God brought being out of nonbeing continues to sustain the world today.

We want to add something more. Each moment God imparts openness to the future that releases the present from bondage to past determinations. God’s creative activity is never ceasing. Each moment the entire physical universe is given its existence in such a way that it is open toward what comes next. This ceaseless future giving by God explains why the laws of nature cannot grip nature in a rigid determinism. It explains why each moment has the freedom to transcend the previous moment. What we see as contingency or chance or self-organization is the result of God’s liberating gift of an open future. We call this continuing creation, creatio continua.

Email link | Printer-friendly | Feedback | Contributed by: Martinez Hewlett and Ted Peters

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