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We Should Celebrate Darwin
By Sister Paula Gonzalez, S.C., Ph.D.
Source: St. Anthony Messenger
Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2009
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Many scientists since Darwin's time have realized that scientific searching can result in the awesome realization that creation is an ongoing process, set in motion by an Eternal Creator.

In 1881, only 10 years after Darwin published The Descent of Man, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was born in France. After extensive study of hominid fossils and early human societies, this Jesuit paleontologist in 1938 completed his most important work, The Phenomenon of Man. His religious superiors found his thinking unorthodox and forbade him to publish.

After Teilhard's death in 1955, many of his works began to be translated and published. He originated the concept that humans are a phenomenon of Earth's evolutionary adventure, which is moving toward the Omega Point, the Cosmic Christ. The influence of Teilhard's ideas has been far-reaching because very early he integrated broad scientific knowledge with a deep sensitivity to religious values.

At vespers on July 24, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI preached about God's power and goodness. He said: "The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: In the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, where the cosmos becomes a living host."

Influenced by Teilhard's work, the late Thomas Berry, a Passionist priest who called himself a geologian, recently has provided our 21st-century world with timely wisdom. His agreement with Teilhard's idea that "we must consciously will the further stages of the evolutionary process" is clear in Berry's major book, The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future.

As a cultural historian, he was eminently qualified to state: "Natural selection can no longer function as it has in the past. Cultural selection is now a decisive force in determining the future of the biosystems of the Earth."

To a large extent, the further development of the human family in what Berry described as the "sacred Earth community"—the entire created universe—is in our hands.

Our times require that all of us appreciate our part in this great work of cocreation. As Father Berry explained in 1999, "The Great Work now, as we move into a new millennium, is to carry out the transition from a period of human devastation to a period when humans would be present to the planet in a mutually beneficent manner. We cannot doubt that we too have been given the intellectual vision, the spiritual insight and even the physical resources we need for carrying out this transition."

The evolutionary adventure continues!

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Sister Paula Gonzalez, S.C., Ph.D., taught biology at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio, for 20 years. An environmentalist, she is a cofounder and board member of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light. A presenter of many workshops and retreats in the United States and Canada, she lives in a former chicken barn that is solar-heated.

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