Bridges & Pathways to Experiencing More of God: Nature, Part V
This will be my last post in the current series challenging us to see more of God’s presence and empowering in our interactions with the creation. In wrapping these thoughts up, it seems important to also note some of the limitations of our experiences in this area.
– Nature is “bloody in tooth and claw,” as Darwin and others have often pointed out. Just watch one of David Attenborough’s great nature documentaries if you have any doubts. With all of its beauty and order and self-sustaining adaptation, nature is also a brutal place that cannot really be romanticized. It cannot be the only pathway to experiencing God as a “Very Good God.”
– In fact, I would argue, as John Pulkinghorne has pointed out in his writings, that all natural systems reflect the reality that this age cannot last—it has destruction built into its current systems. Every known natural system is poised for destruction. In fact, most scientists would argue that the destruction of all that we know is not a matter of if, but of when. And, as far as earth is concerned, we must know of at least a dozen ways in which this globe could easily come to an end or at least no longer be habitable, from asteroids to global warming to explosions of the “ring of fire.” Beyond the destruction that seems to apparently be built into all of the systems, there is also the further reality that nature as we currently experience it is neither “all good” nor conducive to an “all good human society.”
– Any ethic derived from nature alone may not be limited to, but must include, the “goodness” of survival of the strongest, smartest, most ruthless and most adaptable animals and humans. This is certainly not a “Jesus-like” ethical foundation.
– And, for those who just want a “God and me in nature” experience of God, there is a total absence of the main Judeo-Christian claim about how we humans come to know more about God’s past, present, and future goals for humanity—God’s encounters with humans in human history. Certainly, the biblical claim is that God’s unique self-revelation is most available in history: (1) humans in the image of God, (2) the Covenant with Abraham, (3)the Exodus of the Jews, (4) the life, death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus, and (5) God’s intention to create a new heavens and a new earth in which all that has gone before can be caught up in God’s future purpose of the human race.
Much of what is both unique and key in the Judeo-Christian claims about God cannot be found in our experiences of God in the creation. But, this should not keep us from experiencing the wonder of the Creator’s gifts through the creation. It is great to experience what is there for all to find if they have eyes to see—the wonder, power, and gifts from our Creator to us human creations.