Does the Earth ask things of us?
The Dominican Sisters International (DSI) think it does, and decided to find out just what exactly the Earth is asking of them. Mark Shea and Disputations have both rightly commented on just how far off this question is. The Earth is not a being, it cannot ask questions, and the "New Cosmology" is not "the critical lens from which all preaching needs to flow and all justice action should emerge."
My question is this - what is this "New Cosmology" that they speak of? Where did they get it, why did they come up with it, and what does it say? It sounds like a New Age concept that is devoid of any true Christian theology.
After doing a Google search for "New Cosmology" it became apparent that folks from all sorts of fields are coming up with new cosmologies of their own. Many are from physicists researching general relativity and quantum physics, but some are looking to find spirituality within scientific theories. The one the Dominican Sisters are referring to comes from Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, who have co-written a book called The Universe Story : From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era--A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos.
A quick look at Brian Swimme's website returned the following questions from an interview with "What is Enlightenment?" Magazine:
WIE: You often speak about the fact that we are at a unique juncture in human history because we now have knowledge of the fourteen billion years of cosmological evolution that brought us to this point—and that this knowledge carries with it a responsibility that we never before imagined. can you give a basic outline of the vast scope of this evolution?
Brian Swimme: It’s really simple. Here’ the whole story in one line. This is the greatest discovery of the scientific enterprise: You take hydrogen gas, and you leave it alone, and it turns into rosebuds, giraffes and humans.
WIE: That’s the short version.
Brian Swimme: That’s the short version. The reason I like that version is that hydrogen gas is odorless and colorless, and in the prejudice of our Western civilization, we see it as just material stuff. There’s not much there. You just take hydrogen, leave it alone, and it turns into a human—that’s a pretty interesting bit of information. So that’s why I love the short version.
So where does this "New Cosmology" clash with Christianity? I think the answer is pretty apparent - that you "just take hydrogen, leave it alone, and it turns into a human." I don't think you have to be an experienced theologian to see a problem with this statement. So often the good-intentioned concern for the Earth ends up coming from these ideas which are antithetical to the core of Christian theology. This is really a shame, because any authentic Christian spirituality already should include respect for God's creation, there is no need to search elsewhere. Anyone who searches for answers to dilemmas within the body of Christ and does not find an answer needs to delve deeper into the mysteries of Christ.
For a more thorough examination of a "New Cosmology" within Catholicism, Bill Jacobs, director of the Catholic Conservation Center, has written an excellent article, "A Cosmos Without the Redemption of Jesus Christ?"
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